Travel By Plane to Milwaukee

  James  3 mins read.

Travel by Plane

It is generally easiest to fly into the Milwaukee Mitchell airport (MKE), even if doing so requires a connection. The other good alternative is to fly into Chicago O’Hare airport (ORD).

I personally use both MKE and ORD depending on the situation. With international travel the cost of taking a sedan between Milwaukee and ORD is often offset by the additional savings in flight costs. For regional travel, it is generally less expensive and more convenient to fly into and out of MKE.

The Milwaukee airport is a 15 minute drive or Uber ride from downtown Milwuakee. Travel time from downtown Milwaukee to ORD consistently takes less than 75 minutes, even in bad weather and heavy traffic.

If you live in the Midwest United States, you may want to consider taking the train instead of flying.

To obtain a Certified LeSS Practioner certification you must attend the entire course. As a practical matter this often requires spending an additional night in a hotel, and returning home the next day. Please plan accordingly.

Direct Flights to Milwaukee

Milwaukee’s Mitchell airport is a mid-sized airport. It is not a hub for any airline. The major airlines all have non-stop flights to their respective hub airports, frequently several per day for each hub.

Typical daily non-stop flights are therefore as follows:

  • Delta: ATL, BOS, DTW, MSP, JFK, LGA
  • United Airlines: ORD, EWR, DEN, IAH
  • American Airlines: ORD, DFW, CLT, PHL, PHX

Southwest Airlines has non-stop flights to a lot of the cities the major airlines do not.

You can find a complete list of non-stop locations here.

Mitchell is large enough to be able to easily fly almost anywhere with no more than a single connection, and small enough to be an easy airport to navigate. The parking structure and rental car center are both attached to the aiport.

Unlike some larger airports, there is no on-campus hotel. There are a few budget hotels near the airport, but the vast majority of the hotels are found in downtown Milwaukee.

Chicago O’Hare

The Chicago O’Hare airport (ORD) is one of the largest international airports in the nation. It is a hub airport for both United Airlines, and American Airlines. It even has its own Die Hard movie.

Since O’Hare airport is located on the northern edge of Chicago, it is a relatively easy 75 minute freeway drive from Milwaukee. Most of the heavy Chicago traffic occurs further south than the O’Hare airport.

The advantage of O’Hare is the tremendous number of flights available. The disadvantage is the huge size. It can easily take 20 minutes to walk between more distant terminals, even when you know exactly where you are going.

As with many big airports, getting to the rental car center requires taking a train. Which is at least better than taking a rental center bus.

Since traveling from Milwaukee to ORD requires crossing the Wisconsin/Illinois state line, you are better off using a sedan service than an Uber. I have been very happy with sedan service from AccuTrans. AccuTrans has a large enough fleet to handle last minute changes, while avoiding being overly expensive. As of November 2022, the all-inclusive costs from AccuTrans to go from/to downtown Milwaukee and ORD is as follows:

  • ORD to downtown Milwaukee: $256.18
  • Downtown Milwaukee to ORD: $252.18

The $200 difference between an Uber ride to/from MKE and a sedan to/from ORD is sometimes about the same as the savings in airline fare found by flying in/out of ORD.

As a frequent flyer, I typically check routes from both airports and then pick whichever option makes the most sense. When my schedule is less time sensitive, I typically end up flying from MKE. On a tighter schedule or when flying internationally, ORD is often a better choice. Occassionally, I fly out of one and return via the other.

As long as you have TSA Pre or Global Entry, security at ORD is relatively quick and painless. If you don’t, that alone might be a good reason to avoid flying out of ORD.

The on-campus hotel at ORD is the Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport.