Choosing an Airport

Choosing an airport may seem simple – if you fly to Chicago (or London or Paris or another city), you look for the Chicago (or other city) airport. The problem is that many large cities have more than one airport. For Chicago, the main choices are Midway or O’Hare. Paris has Charles de Gaulle or Orly. London has six airports to choose from.

American Tails

I’ve flown into both New York City and Washington, DC, several times. These cities have a number of airport choices. It takes time to look at all the options and also, to keep them all straight.

Recently, a couple people I know went to the wrong airport for their flight. One friend arrived at the wrong Tokyo airport for his flight. He did not have enough time to get to the correct airport, so he had to take a later flight.  When another friend and her family realized they were at the wrong airport, they were able to take a taxi to the correct one. Although the ride was expensive, they arrived in time to take their originally scheduled flight.


Since I live near Chicago, I fly out of Midway International Airport (MDW) or O’Hare International Airport (CHI). Midway is a little closer, but does not service all the airlines I like to fly.

Southwest Tails

I usually fly from Midway when I am flying within the US. Southwest is my choice for domestic flights – they only fly out of Midway. Delta Airlines flies out of both Midway and O’Hare, but I haven’t flown Delta recently.

O’Hare is my choice for traveling abroad. United Airlines and American Airlines do not fly from Midway, but rather, fly out of O’Hare. At times I’ve flown internationally on other airlines – Air France, Austrian, Luftansa, and Air Canada – which also fly out of O’Hare.

O’Hare International Airport

It is easy for me to choose when flying in and out of Chicago, but for someone unfamiliar with the airports or the area, going to the wrong airport could be a problem. With light traffic, it takes at least 45 minutes to get from one to the other.

My recommendation – Fly Southwest out of Midway. For anything else, fly out of O’Hare.

Paris or Orly
At Charles de Gaulle Airport

On several trips, I’ve flown into and out of Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG) in Paris. I find the airport confusing, but I always manage to get to where I’m going. To get to Paris from CDG, which is northeast of the city, you can take a car (or taxi), bus, or train. – I usually take the train.

This fall, my daughter and I will be flying into Paris-Orly Airport (ORY). This will be my first time landing at Orly, located straight south of Paris. We are looking into the best transportation option to get to the city, but the options are the same as CGD – car, bus, or train.  It looks like we might take the bus into the city and then take the metro to our Airbnb.

Although we have looked at Orly in the past, the best flight deals have always been with flights arriving at CDG. This time, we got a great deal flying a low-cost carrier (TAP Air Portugal). The flight is from Chicago O’Hare to Lisbon, Portugal, and then on to Paris Orly.

London Airports

London has six major airports and many smaller ones. The largest, most popular one is London Heathrow (LHR). I have actually never flown through Heathrow. When my daughter and I traveled to London five years ago, we arrived via the Eurostar – the train that travels through the Chunnel under the English Channel. When we left, we flew on Ryanair from a smaller airport.

One of the reasons that I’ve avoided London Heathrow is that the taxes and fees at this airport are often very high. If I’m looking at a flight that includes a stop, it is almost always cheaper to go through a different European city.

In addition to Heathrow, London’s second busiest airport is Gatwick (LGW). Gatwick is the home base for easyJet, but other airlines also fly from this airport. Our flight on Ryanair left from Gatwick.

Stansted (STN) is the third largest London Airport and the base of Ryanair. It is also home to Harrods Aviation which welcomes VIP planes.

Other London airports you may encounter are London City Airport (LCY), Luton (LTN) or Southend (SEN). These smaller airports transport passengers to many United Kingdom and European destinations.

Choosing the Wrong Airport

If the location is one you are less familiar with or one you have never flown to before, it’s easy to assume you will be flying out of the main airport. When my friend and her family flew out of Seattle, they assumed that would be flying from the same airport where they arrived – Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Sea-Tac is very popular – most people have not even heard of Paine Field. However, United Airlines flies out of Paine Field and scheduled their flight home from the smaller airport.

Narita International Airport

When my friend flew out of Tokyo, he went to Narita International Airport (NRT). His flight, however, left from Haneda Airport (HND).  Haneda has been in the news recently due to its major expansion. The airport is located much closer to the city of Tokyo and will continue to gain in popularity.

Choosing an Airport

Many times, the choice of airport is made because of airline preference.  As I mentioned above, if I want to fly on Southwest, I choose Midway.

Sometimes, though, choosing an airline may still give the option of more than one airport.  Delta flies out of both Chicago airports. United flies out of both Seattle area airports. In cities like Tokyo, many airlines fly out of both airports.

When we flew from London to Ireland on Ryanair, we had a choice of different airports. We researched to choose the most convenient and cost effective one.

Final Thoughts

Although I wasn’t happy that my friends had issues with their flights, their problems serve as a reminder for me to be extra careful when booking my own flights. I’m planning a trip to Seattle next summer.  Although either airport might work for my plans, I need to be sure to schedule a rental car or figure out transportation from the correct one.

I’m looking forward to flying into Orly airport this fall.  Each time I experience a new airport, I learn more about the city I am visiting. I’m interested to see if Orly is as confusing as CDG. Maybe I’ll like it better and plan my future Paris trips to fly into Orly.

I love to travel and flying always adds excitement to the trip. Where have you flown lately?

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