The recently derived distributions for the scattering-matrix elements in quantum chaotic systems are not accessible in the majority of experiments, whereas the cross sections are. We analytically compute distributions for the off-diagonal cross sections in the Heidelberg approach, which is applicable to a wide range of quantum chaotic systems. Thus, eventually, we fully solve a problem that already arose more than half a century ago in compound-nucleus scattering. We compare our results with data from microwave and compound-nucleus experiments, particularly addressing the transition from isolated resonances towards the Ericson regime of strongly overlapping ones. © 2017 American Physical Society.