Media Policy

Our objective is to assist the media by providing information about the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) and the operations of O'Hare and Midway International Airports without compromising the safety, security, or efficiency of the airports' operations.

The CDA Media Relations office assists news organizations by providing information about the CDA and Chicago's airports. All inquiries and requests for interviews about airport issues should be directed to the CDA Media Relations office. Any interviews or stories concerning a specific airline should be directed to that airline.

The CDA Media Relations office number is (773) 686-3700. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Reporters/news desks needing immediate assistance outside of regular office hours should contact the CDA Media Relations office number/pager (773) 686-3700, and follow the prompts to leave a message and contact number. The message is immediately forwarded to an on-call media representative, who will respond to emergency inquiries and situations.

To receive a news release or to be contacted regarding newsworthy items, please contact the CDA Media Relations office at (773) 686-3700.

Chicago Department of Aviation's Commercial Filming and Photography Policy

Media Access

The terminals at both O'Hare and Midway International Airports are public buildings operated by the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), but are non-public for purposes of access and free speech activities. Nonetheless, it is the CDA's policy to accommodate the media whenever reasonably possible. The CDA's primary responsibility and highest priority is to maintain safe, secure and orderly airport operations.

The CDA reserves the right to deny media access for safety, security or operational reasons. Additionally, whenever the federal government declares an imminent or elevated threat alert on the National Terrorism Advisory System issued by the United States Department of Homeland Security, the CDA may suspend or prohibit media filming and photographing in the secured area. Suspension and prohibition will be based on the totality of the security situation, including the availability of security resources at the Airports in light of increased demands and requirements by the federal government.

Pursuant to applicable laws and regulations, only ticketed persons, persons holding valid ID badges, or persons escorted by properly badged personnel are allowed beyond the security checkpoints. Law enforcement and CDA personnel have the authority to stop any unapproved filming or photography at any time.

Only credentialed media representatives will be allowed access pursuant to the provisions of this media policy.

General Requirements for all credentialed media crew members in and around the airports:

  • Display official photo identification at all times.
  • Do not block fire escape routes and or/fire emergency exits.
  • Do not block any entrance, exit, escalator, ticket counter, taxi staging area, taxi pickup area, passenger check in, security checkpoint, baggage area, or other area within or around the airport.
  • Do not interfere with airline or airport operations.
  • Remain at least 10-feet away from passengers standing in line so as to not obstruct the orderly flow and formation of passenger traffic.

Prior to the Security Checkpoints

Subject to the general requirements above, media may film, tape or photograph in publicly accessible areas, including, but not limited to, lobbies, parking lots and garages, roadways and other common use areas.

After the Security Checkpoints

To film areas beyond security checkpoints, all media must first obtain clearance from the CDA and must be escorted by a representative from the CDA or other approved escort (e.g., TSA or airline representative).

Airport Traffic Control Tower and Other Federally-Controlled Areas

The airport traffic control tower is controlled and operated by the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA"). For media access to the airport traffic control tower or any other federally-controlled areas, you must contact and obtain approval from the FAA or other responsible federal agency, along with the CDA.

Leased Areas

The areas that are leased to the airlines and other tenants, such as ticket counters, boarding locations and waiting areas, private offices, stores and restaurants, are under the control of those parties, and media access to those areas must be approved by the appropriate airline or business, and CDA notified.

Airfield and Chicago Department of Aviation Operations Tower Access

Media access to the airfield, CDA operations tower, and other areas not accessible to the general traveling public, is very limited and may be denied at the sole discretion of the CDA.​​

Media Parking

News organizations are asked to contact the Chicago Department of Aviation's (CDA) Media Relations office at (773) 686-3700 prior to arriving at the airport.

All news vehicles, except “live” broadcast trucks, must be parked in the airport’s parking garages. Limited “live” broadcast truck parking may be permitted within designated areas at each airport and is subject to change based on security requirements.

Midway International Airport

Live broadcast trucks are permitted with prior approval from the CDA on the upper level outer roadway near Door 4. Trucks must be attended at all times. Unattended live trucks and all other vehicles must park in the garage. Only one live truck per station will be allowed to park at any time.

O’Hare International Airport

A media parking area for live/satellite media trucks is located at the southwest end of Parking Lot B (See Exhibit 1 - Media Vehicle Parking and Media Box Locatio​ns). The designated media vehicle parking area contains an exterior media box which provides connectivity to media boxes located inside of Terminals 1, 2 and 3. Parking in this location is intended for live/satellite media vehicles only. All other vehicles must park in the public parking garages or lots. All media vehicles are prohibited from parking on the upper level (departures) roadway in front of Terminals 1, 2 and 3.

Only one (1) space is allowed per news organization in the designated live/satellite media truck parking area and the spaces are available on a first-come/first-serve basis (See Exhibit 2 - Media Vehicle Parking and Media Box Locations​).

Please note that vehicle clearance height to reach the designated live/satellite media truck parking area in Lot B via the main entrance is 8’-5”. Media vehicles that cannot make this clearance height can access the lot by using the Live/Satellite Media Truck Entry Gate, located prior to the ticket dispensers at the garage entrance (See Exhibit 3 - Media Vehicle Parking Entry and Exi​t).

In order to enter and exit the designated live/satellite media truck parking area in Lot B via the Live/Satellite Media Truck Entry and Exit Gates, Standard Parking Corporation must be notified prior to arrival and departure by each news organization. Call the Standard Parking office at (773) 686-7530 prior to arrival and departure.

There is one other location near O’Hare’s domestic terminals called “Cab Hill” where media parking is permitted under certain conditions. Live and/or Satellite media trucks may park on “Cab Hill” only if 1) the size of the vehicle exceeds the media parking stall (approximately 10’ by 25’) and/or blocks the drive aisle; or 2) if all spaces in the Live/Satellite Media Truck parking area in Lot B are occupied. Live and/or Satellite media trucks parking on Cab Hill must be attended at all times. (For directions to Cab Hill, see Exhibit 1 – Media Vehicle Parking and Media Box Loc​ations​).

For news stories specifically pertaining to events at International Terminal 5, attended live/satellite media vehicles will continue to be permitted on the lower level outer roadway near the international flags. Only one live/satellite media vehicle per news organization will be allowed to park at any time.

Exhibit 1 - Media Vehicle Parking and Media Box Locations
Exhibit 2 - Media Vehicle Parking and Media Box Loc​ations
Exhibit 3 - Media Vehicle Parking and Media Box Ex​it​​​​​​​​​

Airport Emergencies

If an emergency situation occurs, media representatives will be directed to a specific staging area where an airport representative will conduct a preliminary briefing. Briefings will continue as appropriate. Only a Media Relations representative or designated airport management may respond to questions related to emergencies. When appropriate, the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) personnel will refer questions to the airline or the governmental agencies involved.

In the event of an aircraft emergency, the affected airline is responsible for providing information regarding passengers aboard the aircraft and any detailed information about the flight crew, flight activities and the aircraft. In the event of a non-aircraft emergency, information will be disseminated through the CDA’s Media Relations office.

Certain situations will be coordinated through a Media Relations representative in conjunction with either the Police and/or Fire Department public information offices as the situation warrants. At no time will the CDA’s Media Relations representative act as spokesperson for another agency or airline.

Airport Jurisdictions

Certain airport operations fall under the jurisdiction of different agencies working within the airport. The media are requested to contact the appropriate agency public affairs department for interviews and information.

Aircraft Operations/Air Traffic Control

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for all air traffic control, the majority of which is between airports. Please direct inquiries about aircraft operations or delays in the air traffic system to the FAA Great Lakes Region Public Affairs Office at (847) 294-7427. The FAA after-hours number is (847) 294-7410. For the FAA's Public Affairs contact information, click here.

Aircraft/Airline Issues

Individual airlines are responsible for issues relating to that particular airline: labor issues, on-time performance, flight schedules, baggage issues, etc. Please direct inquiries relating to individual airlines to the airline's public affairs office.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for all inbound and outbound international travelers, conveniences and cargo along with the Federal Inspection Services (FIS) at O'Hare and Midway International Airports. All inquiries and request for access should be made to CBP Public Affairs staff. Access requests to the FIS will require 48 hour notification and vetting. For the CBP's website, click here.

Airport Security

Chicago Department of Aviation policy is to limit the information made public regarding security procedures used by airport and federal personnel pursuant to applicable laws, regulations and policies. Airport security procedures are established with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and implemented by airport and federal personnel. For more information regarding airport security, contact TSA Public Affairs at (773) 377-1230. For the TSA's media room, click here​.

Emergency Roles

In most situations, an on-scene incident command post will be established either by the Chicago Fire Department or the Chicago Police Department (dependent upon the incident type) using the Incident Command System (ICS). ICS is a management tool consisting of procedures for organizing personnel, facilities, equipment and communications at the scene of an emergency. Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), requires that organizations that deal with hazardous material incidents must operate under an Incident Command System.

The FBI has been designated as the Lead Federal Agency (LFA) for Law Enforcement Operations in a terrorist event, to include weapons of mass destruction. Local and state agencies pertinent to law enforcement operations, to include certain consequence groups, are to work jointly with the FBI in resolving the Crisis aspect of a terrorist situation.

The on-scene incident commander will direct and control operations at the disaster site. He/she will maintain contact with the Incident Management Coordinator (IMC) and keep them informed of the situation. The IMC is established to support the on-scene Incident Commander – not to manage the incident. Emergency response personnel provided by the v​arious organizations/agencies to support incident operations will remain under the direction and control of the sponsoring organization, but will be assigned by the IMC to a specific work assignment or staging area as needed. Work shifts will be established to provide continuous coverage as needed.

During an emergency situation, the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) will be able to provide only the following information:

  • Date and time of incident
  • Name of airline
  • Type of aircraft and flight number
  • Runway affected
  • General description of the incident (if confirmed)
  • Number of persons on board (if confirmed)

Aviation Security Office

CDA security officers assist and coordinate with the Chicago Police Department in all of its responsibilities as they pertain to an incident.


The Chicago Police Department is responsible for establishing and maintaining a security line at the incident site. Law enforcement officers also will maintain constant patrol of the airfield area. The Police Department also provides a variety of professional services such as crime investigation, canine explosive teams, special operations, and rescue. Click here for the CPD's website.


The Fire Department is responsible for firefighting, hazardous materials spills, and emergency medical rescue operations at Chicago's airports. Click here for the Fire Department's website.


In the event of an aircraft emergency, the affected airline is responsible for providing information regarding passengers aboard the aircraft and any detailed information about the flight crew, flight activities and the aircraft. For a list of airlines serving the airport, click below.

Midway International Airport Airline Information
O'Hare International Airport Airline Information

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Several branches of the FAA have responsibilities in the event of an aircraft emergency. The FAA operates the control tower and will direct air traffic during an emergency to permit equipment to proceed to the accident site. The FAA also releases information regarding air traffic control communication with the pilot of the affected aircraft. Reporters must file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FAA for copies of air traffic control audio communications. FOIA requests may be filed through the FAA website, If the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is leading an investigation, the FAA cannot release any tapes until the NTSB approves the release.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

The TSA is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security whose mission is to safeguard the nation's transportation system to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce. Airport security information will be handled by the TSA in the event of an emergency. Click here for the TSA's website.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause of transportation accidents and promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families. The NTSB investigates accidents, conducts safety studies, evaluates the effectiveness of other government agencies' programs for preventing transportation accidents, and reviews the appeals of enforcement actions involving aviation and mariner certificates issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), as well as the appeals of civil penalty actions taken by the FAA. The NTSB may be reached at (202) 314-6100 or

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

The FBI has lead jurisdiction when a law enforcement-related emergency occurs aboard an aircraft. Depending upon the event, local law enforcement, the TSA, and the FAA may also investigate. Click here for the FBI's website.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Any incident involving an international flight or passenger (inbound or outbound) will be coordinated by CBP. All inquiries should be directed to the CBP Public Affairs staff. Click here for the CBP's website.

Medical Examiner Office

Initial confirmation of any casualties resulting from an aircraft accident is made by the coroner, medical examiner, or other designated law enforcement officer. Information will not be released until family members are notified.

Police Incidents

The Chicago Police Department is responsible for coordinating media activity during a criminal investigation. Click here​ for the CPD's website.​​​​