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Midway to Union Station via CTA


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#1 JayPea

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Posted 16 May 2009 - 11:37 PM

In July I am joining my uncle for the (in)famous Slidell loophole trip. I'm flying (there's that nasty F word :lol: ) from Spokane to Midway, and, as he lives in downstate Illinois between Bloomington and Champaign, I'm taking the Lincoln Service train #305. I've decided to take the CTA train from Midway to Union Station-or at least the vicinity thereof. I have a few questions:

1) How easy is it to go from the baggage claim to the Midway CTA station? I have a map of Midway but it is rather sparse in detail.

2) In looking into this, I see I take the Orange line from Midway and the nearest CTA station to Union Station is the Quincy Street station. Are there stairs or an escalator here? I travel light; a medium suitcase, backpack, and small camera bag, so steps won't be a problem, but I just want to know what to expect.

3) From a map of the CTA system I have, it looks like it's just a three block walk between Quincy Street and Union Station, with Union Station being west of Quincy and across the river. And in case my occasional dyslexia acts up :lol: the Sears Tower is between the two. Even I couldn't miss that!! It looks simple enough but I want to make sure. Keep in mind I'm a bumpkin who grew up in a town of 500 and live in a town of 2900 and about the only mass transit, especially in town #1 is the school buses. :lol: Is it as easy as it looks?

4) About how long can I expect for the journey between the two to take? My flight arrives about 2:50 and the 305 leaves at 5:15. And in case my flight is delayed, I know another Chicago-Bloomington train leaves at 7PM or another option if need be would be the City of New Orleans to Champaign which leaves at 8. I have other options, so it's not as if I'm stuck should my flight be delayed. But, again, I just want to be sure.

We're taking the CONO from Champaign to New Orleans so we'll get a bonus overnighter before the 6 day 5 night Loophole trip. I'm looking forward to it!

Edited by JayPea, 16 May 2009 - 11:38 PM.

Amtrak miles traveled: 85410
Pre-Amtrak miles traveled:8478
Bustitution miles traveled:450
States traveled through on Amtrak: 44

#2 edibot42

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Posted 17 May 2009 - 12:22 AM

Just what IS the Sidell loophole? I've seen it mentioned but never explained.
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#3 AlanB

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Posted 17 May 2009 - 12:27 AM

1) How easy is it to go from the baggage claim to the Midway CTA station? I have a map of Midway but it is rather sparse in detail.


I've never done it but I don't think it's all that hard. Might be a bit of walk, but nothing terrible.

2) In looking into this, I see I take the Orange line from Midway and the nearest CTA station to Union Station is the Quincy Street station. Are there stairs or an escalator here? I travel light; a medium suitcase, backpack, and small camera bag, so steps won't be a problem, but I just want to know what to expect.


No escalators or elevators at Quincy/Wells. You'll have to carry things down the stairs.

3) From a map of the CTA system I have, it looks like it's just a three block walk between Quincy Street and Union Station, with Union Station being west of Quincy and across the river. And in case my occasional dyslexia acts up :lol: the Sears Tower is between the two. Even I couldn't miss that!! It looks simple enough but I want to make sure. Keep in mind I'm a bumpkin who grew up in a town of 500 and live in a town of 2900 and about the only mass transit, especially in town #1 is the school buses. :lol: Is it as easy as it looks?


It's not hard at all. It's a very simple walk and you can't miss the station as it is immediately after you cross the bridge.

4) About how long can I expect for the journey between the two to take? My flight arrives about 2:50 and the 305 leaves at 5:15. And in case my flight is delayed, I know another Chicago-Bloomington train leaves at 7PM or another option if need be would be the City of New Orleans to Champaign which leaves at 8. I have other options, so it's not as if I'm stuck should my flight be delayed. But, again, I just want to be sure.


I'm thinking that with walking at both ends and whatnot, you'll need about 45 minutes to a hour to complete the trip. Members from Chicago may know better than I on that one.
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#4 photoeditor

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Posted 17 May 2009 - 10:41 AM

Orange Line from Midway to Quincy should take 25 minutes actual running time. The train goes clockwise around the Loop so Quincy will be one of the first few downtown stops (which means, for future reference, that it's about 32 minutes from Quincy back out to the airport). Headways between trains at the time of day you're arriving are seven to ten minutes. Southwest baggage reclaim at Midway can be a bit slow -- I've waited as much as a half hour -- so bear that in mind. Midway station is some distance from the terminal due to bad planning, but at least the walk is indoors. Quincy station itself is probably the least renovated, but most restored, station in the system; it's the one they use for movie shoots, so it basically has its 1920s appearance, varnished woodwork, copperplate typefaces and all (i.e. bring your camera). But that does mean a lot of stairs to negotiate. At least you get to go down stairs, not up. Overall, I'd expect your plane could be as much as an hour late and you'd still make your Amtrak connection. With an on time arrival at Midway (with the resulting quicker baggage handling as well) you'll have plenty of time at Union Station because you'll get there well before 4pm. By the way, when you get to Quincy, go out the station to the north (the way the train is heading), and walk west over to Union Station along the left side of Adams Street and use the entrance on your left almost immediately after crossing the Chicago River (i.e. before you get to the main station building). By doing this, you'll go straight down an escalator to the check-in/ticketing area and save yourself some more stairs. But be sure once you're in the station to walk through the tunnel into the Great Hall and take a quick look around, it's very impressive indeed.

#5 John Bredin

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Posted 17 May 2009 - 11:35 AM

If you have wheeled luggage, I wouldn't get off the Orange Line at Quincy. Washington/Wells is the next stop after Quincy/Wells, but it's a modern station with elevators. In my experience, rolling luggage the extra two "blocks" (downtown blocks are half the size of the 8-to-a-mile blocks outside downtown) is better than clambering luggage down the long and relatively steep and narrow staircases at Quincy. There are curb cuts (for wheelchairs, etc.) at every intersection downtown.

By the time you get to Union Station, the riverside entrance mentioned by photoeditor will starting to be busy with impatient home-bound commuters. If you continue a short distance along Adams Street to the first intersection (Canal Street) and head left/south, without crossing Canal, so that the old station building is on the other side of the street, there's an entrance mid-block with elevators that will take you directly to ticketing/baggage.

I second photoeditor's suggestion to see the Great Hall. It's not far off the beaten path, a little west of the ticketing area, and worth seeing even if you have only a minute or two to spare.

Edited by John Bredin, 17 May 2009 - 11:38 AM.


#6 jphjaxfl

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Posted 17 May 2009 - 12:57 PM

A few years back, I attended a conference in San Francisco so I flew to Chicago took the Orange to Quincy and walked to Union Station to take the CZ and connecting bus to SF. I had shipped my larger luggage to the hotel in SF so was traveling fairly light with a brief case and a smaller duffle for the train. Everything went very smoothly probably an hour at the most from the time I walked off the plane at Midway til I arrived at the Metro Lounge at Union Station. Chicago is not as transit friendly as some of the eastern cities but you can still make it work.

#7 JayPea

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Posted 17 May 2009 - 04:02 PM

Thanks, everyone, for your helpful replies. I've been to Union Station before, and in fact was just there a couple of months ago, but it's been years since I've gone anywhere to and from Union Station other than by way of Amtrak. While visiting in Illinois, I've gone to several Cubs games, and in fact have taken the CTA to get there, but it has been so many years since I did that I just don't remember the details. I do have a wheeled suitcase but it's rather large; for ease of travel I'll stick to my circa 1978 suitcase. I do hope to be able to arrive in time to get a glimpse around the Great Hall; I've enjoyed doing so on every trip through Union Station.

Just what IS the Sidell loophole? I've seen it mentioned but never explained.


The Slidell loophole is a trip in which, for a 2-zone Amtrak Guest Rewards award trip, you go from Slidell, LA (first stop on the Crescent east of New Orleans) to Los Angeles the l-o-o-o-o-ng way: Slidell to Washington DC by way of the Crescent; Washington DC to Chicago by way of the Capitol Limited; Chicago to Portland by way of the Empire Builder, and Portland to Los Angeles by way of the Coast Starlight. That adds up to six days and five nights on the various trains. I booked the trip just under the wire; this routing is no longer an option, apparently. Now the only routing option for this trip is Slidell to Chicago as before, but from Chicago to Los Angeles, the only option that appears to come up is the Southwest Chief. At least that's the only option I see on Amtrak's website. I hope that explains it and it's not clear as mud to you now! :lol:
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#8 PaulM

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Posted 17 May 2009 - 05:09 PM

The Slidell loophole is a trip in which, for a 2-zone Amtrak Guest Rewards award trip, you go from Slidell, LA (first stop on the Crescent east of New Orleans) to Los Angeles the l-o-o-o-o-ng way: Slidell to Washington DC by way of the Crescent; Washington DC to Chicago by way of the Capitol Limited; Chicago to Portland by way of the Empire Builder, and Portland to Los Angeles by way of the Coast Starlight. That adds up to six days and five nights on the various trains. I booked the trip just under the wire; this routing is no longer an option, apparently. Now the only routing option for this trip is Slidell to Chicago as before, but from Chicago to Los Angeles, the only option that appears to come up is the Southwest Chief. At least that's the only option I see on Amtrak's website. I hope that explains it and it's not clear as mud to you now! :lol:

I reported a different result in a recent thread (rant?) entitled "Yet another guaranteed connection question". See question 2 shown below. Of course Slidell - LA isn't the same thing as CHI-SLO. But why not? If A-B-C and B-C-D are good, why not A-B-C-D?

But will AGR do that (allow me to go to New York City to change)? I was under the impression that it wouldn't because the itinerary didn't show up in the regular schedule.

Hardly a day goes by that someone doesn't make a statement like that. Every time someone does I ask myself two questions:

1. What is your source (other AU posts do not count)? I can't find anything in the AGR T&C that states what constitutes a valid reward itinerary.

2. How can that be? For certain itineraries I have been looking at, the results from Amtrak.com's reservation page seem to be random. For example, I want to go CHI-SLO (San Luis Obispo) via PDX.

For Jan 16, I can do it. The saved reservation is shown here.

For Jan 15, no can do. The results are shown here.

However, if I try the "multi-city" option, I can do it. The saved reservation is shown here.

The obvious questions:

1. Is CHI-PDX-SLO valid on Jan 16, but not 15.

2. Or does a multi-city trip count as valid for the 15th as well?

3. What gives with the reservation system?

I've notices this phenomenon on other itineraries; but I was able to capture "proof" for this one.

I've asked both questions before; but no one seems to want to take up the challenge.

In response to my post, AlanB indicated he did get a CHI-PDX-SLO connection for Jan 15. As I indicated above, the results may vary.

#9 AudenHoggart

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Posted 17 May 2009 - 10:48 PM

If you're connecting from Midway to an Amtrak to Bloomington, there's another option if you're running late at Midway. Amtrak trains on the Chicago-St. Louis line stop at Summit about twenty minutes after leaving Chicago Union Station. Summit is just a few miles west of Midway Airport, and a short cab ride.

#10 ourlouisiana

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 03:32 PM

When we went to CHI last year, we opted to stay at the COmfort Inn at Midway. It's about half an hour trip, give or take. We spent a few days, so we were never in a hurry. THe station at Quincy has no escalator.

We did find that while Chicago has a fantastic transit system, the directions and locations of the stops and stations are vague. ANd don't ask anyone from Chicago where to catch a specific L train. We were misguided and heard .... hmmmm, I'm not sure, maybe that way. Guess if it's not the line they take every day, they don't have a clue !!!!
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#11 RTOlson

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 04:57 AM

If you can, grab a CTA map. They're really detailed and spell things out pretty well.

#12 JayPea

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 03:46 PM

If you're connecting from Midway to an Amtrak to Bloomington, there's another option if you're running late at Midway. Amtrak trains on the Chicago-St. Louis line stop at Summit about twenty minutes after leaving Chicago Union Station. Summit is just a few miles west of Midway Airport, and a short cab ride.



I didn't realize that. I will definitely keep that in mind. Thanks! In fact, that might be a better option anyway. If I can't afford the cost of a cab vs. the cost of a CTA pass then I have no business going anyway! :lol:
Amtrak miles traveled: 85410
Pre-Amtrak miles traveled:8478
Bustitution miles traveled:450
States traveled through on Amtrak: 44




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