‘Proof of airport business’ required to enter O’Hare overnight from Blue Line, officials say

People arriving at O’Hare after 10 p.m. must have a boarding pass or employee badge, the city says. The policy has been in place since 2020.

SHARE ‘Proof of airport business’ required to enter O’Hare overnight from Blue Line, officials say
Two Chicago police officers patrol a pedestrian way near the O’hare Blue Line station at O’hare International Airport, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023

Two Chicago police officers patrol a pedestrian area near the O’Hare Blue Line station at O’Hare International Airport on Feb. 16.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Those arriving by CTA train at O’Hare Airport during overnight hours need to provide proof they have “business” there to be allowed to enter, officials said.

Chicago police officers will be asking anyone arriving at the airport via the Blue Line between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. for “proof of airport business,” such as an airline boarding pass or an employee badge, the Chicago Department of Aviation said in a statement.

Those who can’t provide proof will be turned away.

“In order to provide a secure environment at O’Hare International Airport, CDA security personnel work with the Chicago Police Department to enforce existing laws, which make clear that it is unlawful to be at Chicago’s airports without any airport business,” the airport agency said.

The Aviation Department emphasized that the policy has been in place since 2020. As a secure location, O’Hare does not allow members of the public to be at the airport unless they are flying in or out or work there.

It was unclear whether the policy applied to people picking up or dropping off travelers at the airport, but the agency said “all CTA customers exiting the Blue Line station” during those hours would be asked to show proof of business.

Enforcement of that policy appeared to have waned earlier in the winter before it was given extra attention in recent months after the number of unhoused people seeking shelter at the airport drew national attention and criticism.

In February, Mayor Lori Lightfoot acknowledged the seriousness of the problem but argued that conservative media had blown the issue out of proportion.

“We have taken and will continue to take the steps that are necessary to move people out of the airports,” she said then. “The airports are a very different place than on the street under an underpass.”

Haymarket Center’s O’Hare Outreach program, which connects people who are homeless and seeking shelter at the airport with resources, said the number of people seeking shelter at O’Hare in the winter always increases, but the increase has been higher recently.

“We’re gonna continue within the bounds of the law to do what is necessary to provide those folks with support — but elsewhere. They can’t be in our airports,” the mayor said.

The airport agency said enforcement of the policy was renewed because the Blue Line resumed 24-hour service to and from the airport last month. Previously, trains did not run from O’Hare to the Rosemont station from midnight to 4 a.m., a policy which started during the pandemic.

An increased police presence could be seen at the airport in February, including a cadre of officers stationed at the O’Hare Blue Line stop inside the airport. They were seen asking people coming into the airport via the Blue Line to show their airline tickets or work IDs, even before 10 p.m.

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