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Travel time from San Diego to Chicago



San Diego to Chicago airports and flights

How long does it really take to fly from San Diego to Chicago? Here's a sample itinerary for a commercial flight plan. If you want to know the total travel time to reach Chicago, you need to include time at the airports. Eventually, you'll be able to customize this itinerary to select other nearby airports and choose your preferred airline.


Thursday, 8:44 am:  start in San Diego
drive for about 6 minutes
most airlines recommend you get to the airport at least 90 minutes before your flight, so arrive by 9:45 am at the latest

8:50 am:  San Diego International (SAN)
if you need to check luggage, make sure you do it at least 30-60 minutes before departure, or in this case, by 10:15 am

9:20 am:  get your boarding pass and go through TSA security
allow enough time for long security lines during busy travel seasons or holidays, and prepare for the wait time

10:20 am:  arrive at the gate
once you're ready to board, you can get something to eat in the airport or just relax near the gate

10:50 am:  prepare for boarding
check your boarding pass for your group number or listen to the gate agent as they announce boarding, some airlines require you to be in the boarding area 10-15 minutes before departure or risk losing your seat

11:05 am:  board American Airlines Inc. flight
you can scroll down to view other airlines that fly this route

11:15 am:  this is your scheduled departure time
but this flight is usually delayed by an average of 7 minutes

11:22 am:  so this is your actual departure time
it takes the plane an average of 20 minutes to taxi to the runway

11:42 am:  wheels up! take-off from SAN
fly for about 3.5 hours in the air

5:09 pm (local time):  Chicago O'Hare International (ORD)
Chicago is 2 hours ahead of San Diego
so the time in San Diego is actually 3:09 pm
taxi on the runway for an average of 18 minutes to the gate

5:27 pm (local time):  arrive at the gate at ORD
deboard the plane, and claim any baggage
if you're renting a car, check if you need to take a shuttle to car rental agency, otherwise you can ride in a cab, limo, or Uber for about 47 minutes to your destination

6:15 pm (local time):  arrive in Chicago

Total travel time: 8 hours




Flying non-stop from San Diego to Chicago

How far is Chicago from San Diego? Here's the quick answer if you have a private jet and you can fly in the fastest possible straight line.

Flight distance: 1,734 miles or 2791 km

Flight time: 3 hours, 31 minutes

Compare this to a whole day of commercial travel with the airports and waiting in line for security, which ends up taking a total of 7 hours, 31 minutes.

Flying private is roughly 2.5x faster, and saves you about 4.5 hours in your total travel time.

Because of the curvature of the Earth, the shortest distance is actually the "great circle" distance, or "as the crow flies" which is calculated using an iterative Vincenty formula. For a long distance, this appears as a curve on the map, and this is often the route that commercial airlines will take so it's a good estimate of the frequent flyer miles you'll accumulate as well.

This is a medium length flight, so unless you have a nice private jet, you might be booking a commercial flight. In that case, your travel time would really need to include how many minutes to get to your local airport, wait for security, board and taxi on the runway, land at the other airport, and get to your destination. The flight itinerary at the top of the page takes into account all these factors to get a more accurate estimate of your actual flight time.



Best day of the week to fly to Chicago

Looking at flights on American Airlines Inc. from SAN to ORD, here's a breakdown of the number of flights available each day:

  • Sunday
  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday

Based on these statistical results, we chose Thursday for the flight itinerary above.




Alternate flights from San Diego to Chicago

The most common route is SAN to ORD, so that's what we used in the sample itinerary. However, you may want to explore travel alternatives, you could try one of these routes:

  1. SAN to ORD
    San Diego International to Chicago O'Hare International
  2. SAN to MDW
    San Diego International to Chicago Midway International




Airlines that fly to Chicago

We picked American Airlines Inc. for your main flight, but there are other airlines that you should check if you're looking for the cheapest flight, or you need a different schedule. Check the websites of these airlines:

  1. American Airlines Inc. (AA)
  2. United Air Lines Inc. (UA)
  3. Spirit Air Lines (NK)




Plan a trip to Chicago

Trippy has a ton of information that can help you plan your trip to Chicago, Illinois. Start by reading the Trippy page on where to stay in Chicago. If you're looking for a place to stay, you might want to check out The James Chicago Hotel. A great place to eat might be Lou Malnati's Pizzeria. Trippy members can suggest things to do in Chicago like Millennium Park. Check out some of the questions people have asked about Chicago like Best Chicago pizza? Click the button below to explore Chicago in detail.






What about the return flight?

The distance is the same either way if you're flying a straight line. But for a real trip, there can be plenty of differences so go ahead and check the reverse flight itinerary to fly from Chicago to San Diego, or go to the main page to calculate other flight times.

You can also compare the travel time if you were to drive instead. Get the full itinerary for a San Diego to Chicago road trip. Or if you're more interested in the distance, How far is it from San Diego to Chicago?

If you happen to know San Diego, don't forget to help other travelers and answer some questions about San Diego!






Return to top of page
At a Glance
without making any stops
flight distance is 1,734 miles
flight time of 3 hours, 31 minutes
Chicago is 2 hours ahead of San Diego
216 San Diego travel answers
267 Chicago travel answers

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Chicago Airports
  1. Chicago Midway International Airport
  2. Chicago O'Hare International Airport



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