As a reminder here is a layout map of the ORD terminals. It is missing the new L pier 'stinger' 5 gate American Eagle addition but is otherwise accurate:
My walking tour had taken me from the B gates to the G gates via the E and F concourses. You can see below that the outside of F pier wasn't especially busy:
I actually didn't walk up the G concourse and instead moved directly beyond it to the G/H apron which was definitely American Airlines territory:
The G pier had mainly E-Jets on the right side and smaller CRJs on the left side. H pier was stocked primarily with a mix of Boeing 737-800s and Airbus A319/20/21s. I had arrived just too late to catch an MD-80 in action.
Walking up the Y shaped pier and taking the left side K path opened up the view at the top of the Y. More American narrowbodies plus a single Iberia A350 docked at gate K16:
The end of the K pier is also close to the threshold of runway 28R, which was being used for take-offs. There was a lot of United traffic awaiting its turn to leave:
K pier also is one of the closest vantage points to Terminal 5 and the A and B taxiways that allow circular movement around the whole terminal block. Accordingly it is a good place to stand to view aircraft awaiting departure and more of the international movements. Terminal 5 handles most of the international operations, although when the OGT is complete it will instead handle Delta, Skyteam and non-affiliated airlines. Currently the only domestic operations from it are those of Frontier Airlines.
Taxiway traffic included a nice mix of widebodies and more interesting narrowbodies:
Walking back down K pier I passed the American Airlines widebody gates all of which were stocked with 787s. The gates at the start of the pier were occupied by 737s and a SkyWest CRJ:
Across from K concourse can be seen the L pier with the inside of it full of more American Eagle regional jets:
In some way’s concourse L is one of the more interesting parts of the field despite being one of the smallest. It has more American Eagle but also the gates for Spirit plus the small feeder airlines Air Choice One and Cape Air. There is also an additional 5 gate American Eagle stinger pier, which is attached to L and opened in 2018.
From the end of L pier you also get a close view of the taxiways and international terminal once again:
It was by now getting close to departure time so we made our way back to terminal 1 with only a couple of photo stops en-route:
Back to Terminal 1
Back at terminal 1 my colleague settled in at the gate lounge while our aircraft for the ORD-LAX leg, the 737-824WL N33203, was prepared. There was still about half an hour's wiggle room though so I took the opportunity to quickly race across the under-taxiway walkway to the satellite C pier.
United decorates its gate markers in the colours of the Chicago Bears:
Finally aboard our 737 all that remained was to push-back and taxi to the runway. This was no mean feat given the traffic volumes and must have taken about half an hour. I had a window seat but quite a few of the photos weren't particularly good. Here's the best of them:
After take-off our aircraft obligingly made a nice sweep around the airport allowing me to capture some passable overviews of the facility:
The flight to LAX was pleasant enough and as it got dark I could see some impressive lightning storms in the clouds as we crossed the Rockies and past Las Vegas. By the time we got to Los Angeles it was after 9 pm and so you're spared any photos from there, despite the long walk from United's terminal to the Tom Bradley International facility. The last leg of our journey was on the Air New Zealand 777-300Er ZK-OKO and as economy was only about a third full it was most pleasant.
I'm Richard Stretton, an aviation enthusiast and major collector of 400 scale model aircraft. This blog discusses ongoing events in the world of 400 scale.
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