Chicago O'Hare International Airport is actively working to make the world a little more connected. The hub just announced that it is about to become the only airport in the United States to offer direct flights to every continent. The only exception is Antarctica. Chicago has now earned a distinction that only belongs to Dubai, London and Johannesburg.
Chicago was already a pretty impressive international hub before the announcement that it would soon be offering direct flights to every continent. However, it was a new flight from Ethiopian Airlines that pushed the airport to the next level. A direct flight between Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) in Ethiopia and Chicago officially began service on June 11. The route is available three times per week. Chicago's status as a truly elite international hub will officially start in November. That's when Air New Zealand will begin flying to Chicago and offer regular service to and from Auckland.
This has been a big year for O'Hare. The airport has introduced 15 new international routes in recent months. Those routes allow travelers to get to destinations like Aruba, Venice and Oranjestad from America's heartland. The new routes being offered at O'Hare are helping to solidify the need for a proposed expansion project that would cost $8.5 billion. The new addition would include a global terminal that would help the airport to increase the number of international flights it offers by even more. United Airlines, American Airlines and a number of international partners would use the new space as their international hubs. Close to 1.7 million passengers passed through O'Hare during 2018's Memorial Day travel window. That's an increase of around 2.3 percent from last year.