Review: American Airlines Flagship Lounge Chicago O’Hare Airport

Introduction
American Airlines Flagship Lounge Chicago O’Hare Airport
American Airlines First Class 777-200 Chicago To Beijing
W Hotel Beijing Chang’an
Cathay Pacific & Dragonair Lounge Beijing Airport
American Airlines First Class 777-200 Beijing To Chicago


Our flight from Washington DC landed at around 2PM, while our connection to Beijing was at 5:20PM. So upon landing we headed towards the Flagship Lounge, which is located at the far end of the “K” concourse, across from gate K19. While a lot of international flights leave from that area, it can be a bit of a haul from other parts of the concourse.

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American Terminal 3 Chicago O’Hare Airport

At the end of the concourse the door to the Flagship Lounge is located on the right, across from the elevator to the crew room.

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American Flagship Lounge entrance Chicago O’Hare Airport

The agent that checked us in was extremely friendly, as I find to be the norm for the Chicago Flagship Lounge agents. They’re one of the only redeeming qualities of this lounge.

Do keep in mind that the Flagship Lounge is available both to customers traveling in international first class on oneworld, as well as oneworld Emerald members. That means Executive Platinum members traveling internationally (even in economy or business class) automatically get access to the lounge, which makes it a bit more crowded than your average first class lounge. Furthermore, non-American AAdvantage oneworld Emerald members get Flagship Lounge access even when traveling domestically.

The lounge itself isn’t very big, though uses partitions pretty well to make the lounge feel more private and spacious.

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American Flagship Lounge Chicago O’Hare Airport

There’s nothing “first class” about the seating, and if anything the lounge is overly furnished, as the seats are all very close to one another.

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American Flagship Lounge seating Chicago O’Hare Airport

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American Flagship Lounge seating Chicago O’Hare Airport

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American Flagship Lounge seating Chicago O’Hare Airport

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American Flagship Lounge seating Chicago O’Hare Airport

In the back corner of the lounge is a “quiet room” (the former smoking lounge, eons ago), as well as a business center with several PCs.

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American Flagship Lounge seating Chicago O’Hare Airport

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American Flagship Lounge seating Chicago O’Hare Airport

Then in the very back of the lounge is the buffet area. The right side of the buffet has drinks, primarily, while the left side has food.

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American Flagship Lounge buffet Chicago O’Hare Airport

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American Flagship Lounge buffet Chicago O’Hare Airport

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American Flagship Lounge buffet Chicago O’Hare Airport

The right side has the typical Admirals Club snack mix “towers.”

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American Flagship Lounge buffet Chicago O’Hare Airport

Then there’s a Nescafe cappuccino machine.

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American Flagship Lounge coffee machine Chicago O’Hare Airport

And an open bar with liquor, beer, wine, etc.

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American Flagship Lounge drink selection Chicago O’Hare Airport

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American Flagship Lounge drink selection Chicago O’Hare Airport

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American Flagship Lounge drink selection Chicago O’Hare Airport

In terms of the food spread, it’s not a meal substitute, but is substantially better than in the Admirals Club. They have an “afternoon tea” setup of sorts, with small cakes and fruit.

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American Flagship Lounge buffet Chicago O’Hare Airport

Then they had a “make your own French onion soup” setup, which sounded good in theory, but just wasn’t.

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American Flagship Lounge buffet Chicago O’Hare Airport

Then there was a small selection of sushi, veggies, finger sandwiches, hummus, etc.

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American Flagship Lounge buffet Chicago O’Hare Airport

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American Flagship Lounge buffet Chicago O’Hare Airport

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American Flagship Lounge buffet Chicago O’Hare Airport

Then some cold cuts and cheese.

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American Flagship Lounge buffet Chicago O’Hare Airport

And some shrimp and whole fruit.

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American Flagship Lounge buffet Chicago O’Hare Airport

Wifi in the lounge was reasonably fast. The lounge has bathrooms with one stall each, though there are no showers in the Flagship Lounge. That’s a big downside, since the Admirals Club has decent showers, though is about a five minute walk away.

One good thing about the location of the lounge is that it has a back door, through which you can directly access gates K16 and K18. The flight to Beijing was leaving from gate K16, so that was convenient. At around 4:30PM we decided to head through the back door to gate K16.

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American Flagship Lounge exit Chicago O’Hare Airport

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American departure gate Chicago

Our 777 featured the “new” American livery.

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American 777-200 to Beijing

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American 777-200 to Beijing

The gate area didn’t feel that crowded until around 4:40PM, at which point everyone seemed to queue up for boarding.

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American departure gate Chicago

That’s problematic at gate K16, give that it’s narrow, due to the podium being immediately in “front of” the jet bridge entrance.

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Boarding to Beijing

American Flagship Lounge Chicago bottom line

The Flagship Lounge Chicago could use a refresh. It’s also a fairly small space, especially given how many people have access to it, thanks to how generous oneworld lounge access policies are for elite members.

Ultimately the lounge is a step up over the Admirals Club in terms of food and drinks, though that’s about the only good thing I can say about the lounge. The fact that it doesn’t have showers is disappointing, so when I’m in need of a shower I often just skip the Flagship Lounge altogether, and use the Admirals Club instead.

In terms of American’s US Flagship Lounges, I think the one in Los Angeles is my favorite, followed by the one in New York. The one in Chicago ranks last for me, personally.

If you’ve visited the American Flagship Lounge Chicago, what was your experience like?

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Comments

  1. All lounges in ORD sucks. Even the SWISS lounge in Terminal 5. Gosh, why can’t every major US hubs have a bunch of good lounges like what LAX have.
    LAX may not be the best airport in US, but definitely have best lounges in US, especially in Tom terminal.
    The Oneworld lounge, Emirates lounge, Virgin lounge and new Star Alliance lounges in LAX are way way way way way way way much better than rest of lounges in US. Even include Delta lounge in JFK.
    Another reason makes me love LAX. (Also, remember LAX is the most competitve market in US given no single airline dominate that market, and LAX soon will have more population than NYC)

  2. Reading this makes me so outraged. I can not belive AA is offering this to First Class Int’l passengers. I can not wait to for the ME3 to clean their clock!

  3. @Fred – No you can not enter this lounge with the Citi Prestige Card. You do get access to the Admiral’s Clubs.

  4. Hi Lucky,

    IMHO that ever since the announced merger with US Air, the quality of food has degraded so much to a point of being inedible in all facets of the airline. It’s not just the on the plane that we have seen this drastic negative change. All the lounges, Flagship and Admirals Club have felt this change. I’m glad I was lucky enough to experience the “good old days” of the 1st class lounge experience.
    For those seeking a meal instead of a quiet work location, one would be better served to fly into DFW and go to the AMEX Centurion lounge instead.

    -Keith

  5. The United Club at Chicago has much improved catering, @Lucky I like your blog but I think you should ditch AA, I do admire their fleet plan and hard product but, merging with US might be as bad (or worse) as when United merged with Continental. Jeff Smisek may not be the most experienced CEO, but he is neither a douche (Richard Anderson) or a cold realist (Doug Parker). I have a suspicion you are biased against United, where is the news report about their 777-300er orders to replace their junky 744s?? You love LH first so why not be
    more loyal towards UA.

  6. Lucky,

    A little confused on one of the lines up there. If you’re an ExecPlat, can you enter the lounge even if traveling domestically because all oneworld Emeralds have the same service. If not, can’t I go out of the lounge, turn around, and come in and say, “Hello. I’m Joe Schmoe, a oneworld Emerald. No, I have no idea who the man who looked just like me from before was.” Thanks!

  7. Parker, AA says that it’s own elites are not allowed to the AC/Flagship lounges on purely domestic itineraries including Canada.

    However, if you have OWE from another airline – say, BA or CX or JL etc. you are perfectly able to use the AA lounges using your OWE status.

    http://www.oneworld.com/ffp/lounge-access

    See here: American Airlines AAdvantage® members and US Airways Dividend Miles members, regardless of their tier status or class of travel, are not eligible for lounge access when travelling solely on North American flights within or between the U.S., Canada, Mexico (except Mexico City), the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean. For more information, visit, http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/airportAmenities/AdmiralsClub.jsp and http://www.usairways.com/en-US/traveltools/club/default.html

  8. I use this lounge frequently and think it’s fine. I think you are so jaded from experiencing so many nice lounges around the world, you can’t accept anything that isn’t up to those standards.
    Next time- skip it! Or stop complaining!

  9. Does anyone know why DFW does not have a Flagship lounge? I know there was one in the past.

  10. @Parker – AA Executive Platinum don’t get lounge access when traveling on domestic US itinreraries, unless connecting to an international flight. That restriction does not apply to oneworld Emerald members with other programmes.

  11. If we have admirals club access with the AA citi exec and are on an international itinerary do we get access to this lounge?

  12. @Brian, what’s wrong with pointing out how inferior this “first class lounge” is in comparison to those of most other carriers throughout the world? How is it “jaded” to point out the obvious deficiencies in this lounge? Or as Americans, are we just supposed to accept substandard offerings with a “love it or leave it” attitude?

  13. @DAve – no access with Citi Platinum card

    @Jamie – no, unless you are AA Executive Platinum, or One World Emerald, or flying in international First Class

  14. This looks pretty good! I am wondering, having the prestige card and no status with aa whatsoever, in what circumstance am i allowed access to this lounge, and how about my companion?

  15. Its funny. I am like you and often skip this lounge and use the admirals club. I would have a hard time saying that this lounge is better then the admirals club. There are no showers, and usually on international connections I like to clean up. Also I find the area cramped even when it’s empty.

    My usual plan is spend most of my layover in the admirals club, and only use the Flagship lounge to grab a snack.

  16. @Ken. Well said. For many who post with juvenile tomes like Brian’s miss the point of Lucky’s postings, viz. to give his experiences as he sees them. And his personal views should not be dismissed with loser attitude of ‘stop complaining’. Lucky has traveled enough to ferret out the nuances between quantity and quality of standards. Keep complaining, Lucky!

  17. @Brian As a regular reader (and infrequent commenter) on this blog I beg to differ. The point of a review is to experience and evaluate the lounge, so that readers can make informed decisions, be it which lounge to use or which hub to fly out from. If there’s anyone who has to “stop complaining”, I’m afraid it’s you.

  18. AA has so few paid international F pax, in their eyes it would be economic suicide to offer vintage champagnes, cooked to order meals and waiter service. Their OW contract forces AA to offer a separate space to F and OWEmerald members. They just do the bare minimum to comply.

  19. @JoeMart. U.S. carriers probably haul few paid international F fares and that’s reflected in their service. Why pay loads of cash for an inferior product when there’s other choices in the form of Asian and, increasingly, Gulf carriers who actually have ‘First, not meaning second service’.. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that U.S. carriers have their danders up lately.

  20. I just came across that AA will be remodeling their Admiral Clubs within the next few years. Hopefully O’Hare Admiral Flagship lounge will be brought up to higher standards? It looks like NY Lax and MIami will be getting the first updates.

  21. I believe you can also use the flagship lounges if flying transcon first class on a plane with three classes.

  22. @ sbord — I haven’t heard them announce that they’ll be updating the Flagship Lounges, but we could certainly hope.

  23. I’ll have a long overlay in ORD getting off Air Berlin Business and before flying AA domestic in First. What is the best lounge that I can use in ORD for 5 hours?

  24. @ Viet — In that case only when traveling in international first class on a oneworld carrier.

  25. @ Jamie — Nope, just access to the Admirals Club. This lounge is for oneworld Emerald and international first class passengers.

  26. @ Brian G. — Simply put because American knows everyone there is a hub captive and there are too many Executive Platinum members to practically have one.

  27. @ Brian — I agree it’s “fine.” So is the Admirals Club. So is the gate area. But that doesn’t mean I can’t provide an objective review and compare it to other lounges, no?

  28. @ Parker — All oneworld Emerald members EXCEPT those through AAdvantage get flagship lounge access whenever they travel, even if it’s domestic. Meanwhile AAdvantage members only get access when traveling on longhaul international flights.

  29. @ Tocqueville — Nope, unfortunately not. Concierge Key doesn’t come with any special lounge privileges, as far as I know.

  30. @ Dave — Nope, you don’t get any lounge access with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card.

  31. Can I use the flagship lounge after arriving on an international first class from Shanghai? I have 3 hours to burn before my domestic connection to Austin and wondering if I can use this lounge ?

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