Commercial Filming and Photography

The Chicago Department of Aviation, or CDA, manages Chicago O’Hare and Midway International Airports. Chicago’s airports offer service to over 260 nonstop destinations worldwide, including 47 foreign countries, combined. Together, Chicago’s airports serve more than 105 million passengers each year and generate approximately $60 billion in annual economic activity for the region.

Filming at O’Hare and Midway can distinctly set the scene for Chicago-based films and photography due to their iconic architecture and art. Alternatively, the airports also offer less recognizable options to represent other airport locations.

All commercial filming within and on the property of Chicago’s airports requires expressed, written permission from the CDA. This applies to projects such as, but not limited to:

Feature Films
Television Series
Corporate and Student Films
Web-Based Media
Professional Photography


All commercial production must follow the process listed below. Ticketed passengers are not exempt from this policy.

News media filming is governed by the CDA Media Policy.

Filming Locations:

CDA’s primary responsibility and highest priority is safe, secure and orderly airport operations. The following filming locations may be available during off-peak hours (typically overnight). The use of any location is subject to operational and security approval, as well as approval by any impacted airlines or other airport tenants.

The Department of Aviation encourages all filming requests to be submitted with as much advance notice as possible. Please be advised that access beyond the security checkpoints is subject to additional security approval, including background check and TSA screening.

Airline and Concessions Areas: the areas that are leased to the airlines and other tenants, such as ticket counters, gate areas, jet bridges, baggage claims, private offices, stores and restaurants, are under the control of those parties, and filming access to those areas also must be approved by the appropriate airline or business, in addition to the CDA. This includes cargo facilities, as well as the art in high traffic areas such as Terminal 3 H/K Hall of Flags and the Terminal 1 Tunnel light sculpture The Sky’s the Limit.

Terminal 5, excluding TSA Checkpoints and CBP:

The majority of curbside, ticketing lobby and counters, and gate areas located in Terminal 5 are common use and are available for commercial filming projects with the approval of the CDA. Please note that at this time, Terminal 5 is undergoing major construction and availability may be limited.

Other Post-Security Areas

Concourses, public art, and other post-security areas are available for commercial filming projects with the approval of the CDA.

Other Pre-Security Areas

Curbside, parking lots, garages, roadways, the Multi Modal Facility, and any other areas not under airline or tenant leasehold may be filmed with the approval of the CDA.

Airfield and Ramp Areas

The CDA does not allow filming on the airfield with the exception of b-roll. Filming in ramp areas is subject to approval by airline tenant and CDA. Filming on T5 ramp areas is strictly prohibited.

Air Traffic Control Tower, Customs and Border Protection, TSA Checkpoints, and Other Federally-Controlled Areas: Air traffic control towers are controlled and operated by the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”). Terminal 5 Arrivals areas (excluding landside domestic arrivals areas) are controlled and operated by US Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”). TSA security checkpoints are controlled and operated by the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”). For filming access in any of these areas, you must contact and obtain approval from the responsible federal agency, along with the CDA. The filming of federal personnel, equipment or procedures without this approval is strictly prohibited.

How to Inquire/Apply:

  1. Complete the CDA’s film request form at least two (2) weeks before the requested film date. Requests made less than two weeks in advance cannot be guaranteed. For larger or more complicated projects, additional advance notice will be required.
  2. Conduct a location and technical scout at least one week prior to requested film date to firm location request and to ensure compliance with TSA and other security regulations.
  3. Review the CDA’s Commercial Filming Policy and submit a signed copy of the Policy
  4. Submit your Certificate of Insurance. Please see Commercial Filming Policy for coverage needed and organizations that must be named on this Certificate.
  5. Hire Chicago Police Department escorts to comply with CDA Commercial Film Policy. Please see Commercial Filming Policy for specific requirements.

For additional information regarding filming at Chicago’s Airports, please see the CDA Commercial Film Policy