American’s new Flagship Check-in at Chicago O’Hare (and 1-Stop immigration)

I just flew from Helsinki to Chicago on American this afternoon, and had the opportunity to experience two pretty cool things.

First of all, O’Hare is the first airport to have a “1-Stop” immigration program, which was launched in June. Basically if you’re traveling just with carry-ons you can use a separate immigration queue which is at the very front of the arrivals hall and has substantially shorter lines. From there you’re sent through an express corridor so you don’t even have to go to baggage claim.

I was the only one in my travel group with Global Entry so figured I’d still beat them out of customs and immigration, so I was kind of shocked when I found them all waiting for me outside of immigration. Has Global Entry been outdone?!

I also had the chance to check out American’s new Flagship check-in, which just opened today. It’s available to international first class, Concierge Key and Five Star Service customers.

The Flagship Check-in area is located immediately to the left of the first and business class check-in counters and Pre-Check security checkpoint.

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While it’s fairly basic, it’s beautifully designed, and features three check-in counters and a seating area.

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Directly from the check-in area there’s a door leading right to the front of the security line, in the same place that Pre-Check lets out.

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Kudos to O’Hare for the amazing “1-Stop” program and American for the new Flagship check-in area, which is a great addition for premium customers.

Comments

  1. The “1-Stop” immigration program in ORD is a good idea but it was poorly implemented. You are still required to fill out the blue customs sheet which IMO, is a pain. I’d rather keep using GE at ORD, even if it is a few seconds slower.

  2. I saw something similar implemented @ IAH more than a year ago – if you don’t have any checked bags, they direct you around the baggage claim hall and customs; this applicable to both Global Entry and regular passengers.

  3. Did it appear to cause backups in the TSA precheck line, given that that line has been cut to make room for this?

  4. @ Bruce — Agreed, still prefer using Global Entry, but for those without Global Entry think the execution is excellent.

  5. @ Brian — Used the Pre-Check lane and only took a few minutes. Didn’t see any delays as a result.

  6. @ Brian — First Global Entry is located at the far end of immigration, so takes a bit longer to get to. Then I had to queue to wait for an agent so he could look over my passport and the printout from the Global Entry kiosk, which is a trend I’ve been noticing lately.

  7. I’d still assume that GE will be faster 9/10 times though.

    You’re allowed to cut those queues to have an agent to look at the slip – some places even let you walk straight through without seeing an agent (IAD comes to mind). Of course, everyone looks at you angrily when you cut, but it is allowed.

  8. @ et — To the best of my knowledge foreigners can use it as well (though it doesn’t seem like many foreigners travel without checked luggage).

  9. Also recently through ORD and was conflicted as to which line to use, 1-Stop or GE. The 1-Stop line was only about 4 deep with two agents processing. There was nobody in the GE line but I got held up at Customs for a minute behind the Griswolds back from European Vacation…

    Anyway, I suspect because it’s very new that not many people knew about it even though it was announced both onboard the IB flight from MAD and when the door was open at ORD. (I certainly didn’t)… I think at the moment it’s a tossup time-wise, but certainly better than a regular line either way. Once knowledge grows I suspect the lines at 1-Stop will grow.

    When that happens I think it will be a mess. The implementation sticks out into the fairly narrow hallway. There was also a proctor at the end of the line pointing people in the right direction. Can you imagine if the 1-Stop line grows and people don’t know where to go and they just add themselves onto that line not knowing!! Mayhem!

  10. “First of all, O’Hare is the first airport to have a “1-Stop” immigration program”

    Nonsense. IAH has had it for 2-3 years (pre-UACO) and it has worked wonderfully. No, it isn’t faster or better than GE, but speed at ORD is due to the extra 10 minutes walk and a wait… plus CBP’s slower double-check since the budget cuts. The other aspect of GE that beats it is that GE doesn’t give you yet another stamp in your passport. 1-Stop sometimes does.

  11. I’ll be using the 1 stop program in Chicago – can someone give me the details to use this when getting off the plane – I have carry-on only and have 2 hours to make it to Terminal 2 for US Airways – Thank You

  12. @ mary lee williams — It’s pretty straightforward, just follow the signage for 1-Stop, as it’s the first immigration area when you enter the hall.

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