Catching a flight in 2025? Your commute to Chicago O’Hare International Airport might look a lot shorter if you’re flying with United Airlines.
United is partnering with Archer Aviation to provide flyers an air taxi service from Vertiport Chicago on the Near West Side to O’Hare.
The flight is expected to take about 10 minutes. That’s a lot less than the time many know it takes by car, though the cost hasn’t been released.
Joe Schwieterman, a professor at DePaul University’s School of Public Service who specializes in public policy, transportation and urban planning, said there’s a lot of questions remaining — but there is some talk the trip could be in the $100 to $150 range.
“The last six months brought a frenzy of news about this,” Schwieterman said. “Eight or so years ago, there was a lot of speculation that this was going to happen. We waited and waited, and now it’s coming out fast and furious.”
Vertiport Chicago is a helicopter facility located within the boundaries of the Illinois Medical District, just west of downtown.
“There’s a big push to build a facility for helicopters,” Schwieterman said, “but these new vertical takeoff devices and the medical district really helped make this happen. … It’s been waiting for this kind of technology. It’s about a nine-, ten-minute ride from the Willis Tower, but it’s close enough to downtown to see some big potential there.”
The proposed aircraft will be electric, in comparison to more conventional aircraft like helicopters.
“United is really trying to be a leader on the sustainability side with Scott Kirby pushing to use sustainable fuel, investing in electric airplane technology,” Schwieterman said. “This is a baby step toward that. The first electric commercial planes will probably be these vertical takeoff devices. … One of the Archer models they’re talking about may only have room for four or so passengers, but shortly after that we’re going to see bigger devices.”
But in order to make this model work, there needs to be room for more than four people, according to Schwieterman.
“We have to have multiple people on board … paying for a pilot and so forth,” Schwieterman said. “A big question on the demand is where is it going to land at O’Hare? Back in the old days when we had Chicago Helicopter Airways, which operated from downtown to O’Hare and Midway, they landed on the roof of Terminal 2. These are not so clear if they’re going to land behind security, or if you’ll have to get in line with everybody else when you get to the airport.”