Chicago Midway Airport Spotting

Chicago Midway International Airport (IATA: MDW, ICAO: KMDW) is the second largest airport of Chicago. In 2016 it received 22.7 million passengers, most of them flying Southwest Airlines. The airport has 5 runways, of which only two are used as runway for commercial aircraft.
Southwest is the dominant carrier of the airport, but some other airlines, like Delta Air Lines, Delta Connection, Porter Airlines and Volaris, are regular visitors.

Midway Airport has its own subway- (Orange line) and bus station and therefor easy accessible from the city centre. With busline 55A/55N/63W it is possible to visit most spots (without a car).

Written by Julian Mittnacht and Bas Velders (Last visited in 2015)

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Weather
Airport Information Runways 4R/22L 4L/22R
6,445 ft  (1,964 m) 5,507 ft (1,679 m)
13C/31C 13L/31R  13R/31L
6,522 ft (1,988 m) 5,141 ft (1,567 m) 3,859 ft (1,176 m)
 Terminals One terminal for all airlines.
Spotting Information Ladder Not needed.
Car Recommended, but not necessary.
Restrooms Public restrooms are only to be found in the terminal, but there are lots of restaurants near every spot.
Drinks/Food Restaurants near every spot.
Hotels South of spot #5 is the hotel area of Midway airport.
Season Spring/summer.
Runway Usage  General Info The two longest runways 4R/22L and 13C/31C are use most. Runway usage varies a lot, depending on the wind conditions. On one trip in 2012 there were 3 runways changes for arrivals in 2 hours.

Spot #1 – Terminal ramp – Departures/Arrivals runway 22L
WHERE The spot is easy to find. Its on the opposite side of the entrance to the Southwest check-in on a sidewalk. Walk to the position where the fireplug is so you won´t have the light poles within your frame.
WHAT Perfect for all 22L movements, arrivals and departures/line up.
TIME From sunrise until afternoon.
MISC. Everything you need within the terminals. I suffered no issues with security during my stay.
FOCAL LENGTH The 737 is the usual aircraft and you need 200mm for it on the runway/threshold.
Spot #2 – Apron overview/Departures & arrivals 22L
WHERE This spot is located on the corner of South Cicero Avenue and W 55th Street. From the terminal building it is a 10 minute walk to this spot. For taxiing/departing traffic you have to shoot though the fence. Another option is to try get up one of the parking garages, but success is not guaranteed.
WHAT Arrivals runway 22L and taxiing traffic on the apron.
TIME Early mornings and late evenings or a cloudy day.
MISC. Take everything you need. There is a gas station and restaurant on the corner of W55th Street and South Central Avenue (Spot #3).
FOCAL LENGTH 50-100mm for arrivals/departures 200-300mm for traffic on the apron.
Spot #3 – Arrivals runway 13C
WHERE This spot is located on the corner of W55th Street and South Central Avenue. You can park your car in the surrounding streets. There are multiple small grass fields where you can stay (depending on the light conditions).

By bus: At the bus station get on bus 55A or 55N and get out on 55th Street & Central. The bus ride will cost you 6 minutes (instead of a 30 minute walk).

WHAT Arrivals runway 13C.
TIME Early morning (northern side) / ~ 12.00 – sunset (southern side).
MISC. There is a gas station and restaurant on W55th Street.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-100mm for arrivals
Spot #4 – Arrivals runway 4R/4L
WHERE This spot is located on W 63rd Street and South Central Avenue. You cannot see the runway (blocked by the wall), but arrivals can be photographed. Park your car in the surrounding streets.

By bus: A t the bus station get on bus 63W and get out on 63rd Street & Lorel. The bus ride will cost you 3 minutes (instead of a 20 minute walk).

WHAT Arrivals runway 4R and 4L. Departures can be photographed through the fence near the Midway Armory (small meshes).
TIME Sunrise till ~ 15.00.
MISC. On South Central Avenue are some restaurants.
FOCAL LENGTH  50-100mm
Spot #5 – Arrivals runway 31C
WHERE On W 63rd Street and South Cicero Avenue it’s possible to photograph 31C arrivals. From the terminal it is a 15 minute walk. You cannot see the runway, because it is blocked by a wall.
WHAT  Arrivals runway 31C
TIME Early morning (northern side) / ~ 12.00 – sunset (southern side).
MISC. You are on the parking lot of White Castle.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-100mm

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