Review: American Flagship Lounge Chicago O’Hare Airport

Introduction: LAX-ORD-JFK-LAX
Mini-Review: Virgin America First Class Los Angeles To Chicago
Review: Four Points By Sheraton Chicago O’Hare Airport
Review: American Flagship Lounge Chicago O’Hare Airport
Review: American Flagship First Dining New York JFK Airport
Review: American First Class A321 New York To Los Angeles


American is in the process of revamping their international lounge experience, including creating new Flagship Lounges. American’s Flagship Lounges used to just be open to international first class and oneworld Emerald passengers, while now they’re also open to international business class and oneworld Sapphire passengers, which hopefully translates into a better experience for a lot more passengers.

American kicked off these changes with their newly refurbished Flagship Lounge in New York JFK, and the second lounge is in Chicago. That lounge opened last week. Later this year American should be opening Flagship Lounges in Los Angeles and Miami, and in 2018 they should be opening Flagship Lounges in Dallas, London, and Philadelphia.

As a reminder, the following passengers have access to Flagship Lounges:

  • Passengers traveling in oneworld longhaul international first and business class same day
  • Passengers traveling in first class and business class on American’s premium transcontinental routes, including from New York to Los Angeles, New York to San Francisco, and Miami to Los Angeles
  • American Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Platinum members traveling on a longhaul international itinerary, regardless of the class of service
  • All non-American AAdvantage oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members traveling on any oneworld flight, even if it’s domestic

I had the chance to check out the lounge this past Thursday, and wanted to report back on my experience. I arrived at the airport before 6AM, and my flight was only at noon, so I had the chance to check out both the breakfast and lunch spread in the lounge.

The American Flagship Lounge Chicago is open daily from 5AM until 10PM, and is located in the same area as the Admirals Club.

When you clear security at O’Hare you’ll want to follow the signage towards the H & K concourses.


Chicago O’Hare Terminal 3

Once you walk down the long corridor with the flags, you’ll see that the H and K concourse split off in a “V” shape. You can go either way, because the lounges are in an area that connects the two concourses.


Chicago O’Hare Terminal 3

The Admirals Club and Flagship Lounge share an entrance, so at the reception desk you’ll be sent to the appropriate lounge.


American Flagship Lounge Chicago exterior


American Flagship Lounge Chicago entrance

At check-in I was given an invitation to the Flagship Lounge, and on the back of the card the agent wrote “1,” which I’m guessing refers to the fact that I was traveling alone and didn’t have any guests.


American Flagship Lounge Chicago invitation

With my invitation in hand, I headed towards the elevators — the Flagship Lounge is located on the second floor, while the Admirals Club is located on the third floor.


American Flagship Lounge Chicago elevators

Once I got to the second floor there was an agent standing in front of the door to take my invitation, and then she let me through the door and into the lounge. It’s a bit of a weird system, but I guess that’s the only way they can properly control access to the lounge.


American Flagship Lounge Chicago entrance

The first great thing is that the new Flagship Lounge is huge, at roughly 17,000 square feet. In the morning it was almost completely empty, while it started to fill up mid-morning, ahead of several flights departing to Asia.

To give you a sense of the layout of the lounge, it’s in a rectangular shape, though the lounge consists of several smaller rooms to make it feel more private. Along the interior wall of the lounge is a long hallway that connects the various rooms.


American Flagship Lounge Chicago hallway

In this area was a display with plenty of magazines and newspapers.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare reading materials

The entire length of the lounge has floor to ceiling windows overlooking the gate area, and runway in the distance. I love a lounge with good views, and that’s an area where the Flagship Lounge most definitely delivers.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare view


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare view

Inside the entrance to the lounge and to the right is a customer service desk, should you need help with any reservations, etc.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare customer service

The room just inside the entrance is also the most colorful, and I actually wish the rest of the lounge was designed in a similar way.


American Flagship Lounge Chicago seating

To the right of that room is the largest single area of the lounge, and I really appreciate the variety of seating options they have, from communal tables, to workstations along the windows, to more traditional lounge seating.


American Flagship Lounge Chicago seating


American Flagship Lounge Chicago seating


American Flagship Lounge Chicago seating


American Flagship Lounge Chicago seating


American Flagship Lounge Chicago seating

There are several smaller rooms along the main corridor.


American Flagship Lounge Chicago seating


American Flagship Lounge Chicago seating

Further into the lounge was a quiet area. Not surprisingly I was the only person in there prior to the daytime flight to London, but as passengers for the Tokyo flight started to arrive, it became the most popular room in the lounge. 😉


American Flagship Lounge Chicago quiet area


American Flagship Lounge Chicago quiet area

On the opposite side of the above quiet area was another area with five reclined seats. I do wish American had gone with more comfortable loungers here, because these seats simply aren’t that comfortable for relaxing. It would have been nice if they instead had some some semi-private daybeds, and maybe even had pillows and blankets (then again, I realize people would probably steal those, so…).


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare quiet area

Past the quiet area was a media room, which had a couple of dozen seats in it. It would have been kind of cool if they had gone with a much larger TV, rather than just the two standard wall-mounted TVs. But then again, I’m not the target market for that — I hate TVs in lounges.


American Flagship Lounge Chicago media room


American Flagship Lounge Chicago media room

American was really thoughtful in terms of their placement of power outlets, which all too often isn’t the case. They had both 110v and USB chargers. I was also impressed that many of the leather chairs had ottomans that could be pulled out from underneath the seats.


American Flagship Lounge Chicago seats with ottomans

All of the above seating was inside the entrance and to the right, while to the left was the dining area and some more seating. This included an area with the below semi-private seating arrangements, which I’m a fan of.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare seating

The dining area was large, with plenty of dining tables and communal tables.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare dining area


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare dining area


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare dining area


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare dining area

That’s also where the buffet was located.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare buffet

The lounge had several drink stations throughout. On the far right of the lounge was an area with water and an espresso machine, with both mugs and to-go cups.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare drink station


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare espresso machine

There was another station with fresh fruit, candy, soft drinks, and the specialty cocktail, which I believe changes throughout the day.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare drink station


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare snacks

In the morning it was a “create your own bloody mary” station. I love the concept of this, as they really go all out in terms of the ingredients you can use to prepare a drink to your liking.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare bloody mary station


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare bloody mary station


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare bloody mary station

The main food & drink selection was of course near the dining area. The centerpiece of that was a beautiful self serve wine display.

Hey, I’ve gotta give American credit for serving Bollinger — that stuff isn’t cheap, and I heard corks pop faster than in a rap music video. Seriously, kudos to American… I’m curious to see how long that lasts.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare Bollinger champagne

There was also a decent selection of both red and white wine.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare wine selection

On the opposite side of the room was the impressive self serve liquor selection.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare liquor selection

There was also one of those fancy Coke soda fountains that serves dozens of different varieties of Coke products. Then there was a fridge with beer, water, and soft drinks. Big kudos to American for serving San Pellegrino — now if only they’d serve it onboard!


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare drinks


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare drinks

In addition to an espresso machine, there was also La Colombe drip coffee. Personally I prefer that to most of the stuff that comes out of machines, so I was happy they had that option as well.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare dining area


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare coffee

Breakfast was served until 11AM, and the selection was impressive. I’ll let the pictures mostly speak for themselves.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast selection

In addition to the above, there’s a custom made crepe station, with a “chef” on hand. Apparently what they serve rotates throughout the day. I love the concept, and you could choose whether you wanted a savory or sweet crepe.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast

American Flagship Lounge O’Hare crepes

However, I felt like the execution could have been a bit better. The crepes were already pre-made, so really the “chef” just heated the crepe for a moment, and then put the toppings on top. When I ordered one early in the morning the lounge was still empty, so I felt like they could have made the crepe on the spot, and it would have tasted better. Then again, I get that the lounge filled up quite a bit later, so I guess the priority is being able to make them efficiently.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast crepe

In addition to the crepe, I had some eggs and a (tiny) yogurt parfait.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare breakfast

At 11AM the lunch selection was brought out, and the spread was equally impressive. I’ll once again let the pictures speak for themselves.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare lunch selection

There was also a small dessert selection.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare lunch selection

I had some salmon, potatoes, and the delicious spicy tofu curry dish.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare lunch

I was impressed by the quality of the food, and everything was flavorful. I was also impressed by them always making sure they had enough of every dish. The lounge filled up around 10AM and a dozen people were constantly grazing the buffet, yet I never saw an empty dish.

In terms of the lounge’s other features, there are six shower suites.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare shower rooms

These are really nice shower suites, and each room has a rainforest showerhead, a toilet, sink, etc.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare shower room


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare shower room

Toiletries were provided by CO Bigelow.


American Flagship Lounge O’Hare CO Bigelow toiletries

American Flagship Lounge Chicago bottom line

Overall I was very impressed by American’s Flagship Lounge Chicago. Let’s start with the positives.

The lounge is large, and I don’t think crowding will ever be a major issue, unlike in the Flagship Lounge at JFK. The lounge is well designed, has lots of different seating zones, and has great shower suites. I also love the amount of natural light that the lounge gets. The drink selection in the lounge is fantastic, especially that they serve Bollinger champagne. The food selection is great as well.

To share a few of the negatives, I will say that I think the decor of the lounge is a bit boring. A few of the seating areas have a cool design, though most of the rooms feel no different than an Admirals Club, so I feel like that was a missed opportunity. However, the fact that the lounge is spacious and has lots of natural light largely makes up for that. I also wish that the lounge had proper workstations/cubicles, rather than just communal tables.

Overall this is such a huge improvement over the old Flagship Lounge in Chicago, which was my least favorite one in the system. So it’s great that this lounge is not only an improvement, but that so many more people have access to it without diminishing the experience.

Well done, American!

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!

Comments

  1. Wow, this looks great, actually better than the JFK one assuming you don’t have access to the Flagship First Dining there. JFK is a total zoo around the time of the evening flights leaving for Europe, with very few empty seats and far too many people FaceTiming.

    Puts BA’s lounge in the other terminal (which actually has international F passengers using it) to shame.

  2. Hi Lucky!

    For JFK, I know Cathay uses the American flagship/admirals lounge. For a silver member traveling economy on Cathay, do you know if the lounge access would be to the flagship or admirals lounge?

    I know that business class on Cathay automatically has flagship access, but I wasn’t sure about silver marco polo members. Thanks!

  3. The food does look impressive — particularly compared to what you’ll likely get on board 😀 Although, while the “crepes” were a nice concept, the fillings are meant to go inside, not on top. That AA has put together something both crepe-like and edible is commendable.

  4. AA really doesn’t give a crap about us in DFW do they? It’s supposed to be the headquarters of the company but all we have is the tiny little room called Flagship dining where you have to ask to get drinks and there aren’t even tvs to watch.

  5. Beer selection looked disappointing – way too many bottle of domestic swill for an international crowd. How about showing off some of the local Chicago brews.

  6. Two quick questions…

    1. Is this in the same terminal as BA fly out of?
    2. Assuming 1 is the case, if I wanted to use this lounge as a Gold BA Executive club member (but flying say, premium economy with BA), would I be able to take a guest in? My assumption would be no… but no harm in asking!

  7. Actually, I found the info… and not the same terminal terminal as BA. That’s a shame. I wonder if I could pop over and use it anyway? 😀

  8. Lucky,

    La Colombe is a Philly institution and is now the official coffee of all AA lounges, not just the ones in cities where they have cafes (Philly, Boston, NY, Chicago, DC, LA). Welcome to the cult 😉 There’s one in Century City and one in Beverly Hills if you feel like a fix outside of the airport.

  9. @neil – Looks like Anti-Hero IPA from Revolution in there, but agree that only one local beer is a disappointment.

  10. The liquor selection loooks good in general but they’ve really downgraded the Japanese choices. The sake is vastly inferior and there didnt appear to be any shochu at all. Both were pretty reasonable in the old flagship space.

  11. Ben, I am a reader of your blog who is blind. I enjoy reading your reviews, specifically because of how generally how descriptive they are. However, on occasion, you tend to rely too heavily on pictures. For example, in this review, you have inserted pictures of the various food options at the lounge and there is no description of the actual food items, except for the crêpes. I would really appreciate it if, in addition to the pictures, you could outline what options are available, and whether, from looking at the food, how appetising it appears.Similarly, in your flight reports, instead of taking a picture of the menu, could you list what is on the menu, because, as this would be text, it would be easier for people who are blind to read.Apart from this, I really like your reviews.

  12. @Richard G

    Hi Richard,

    BA flies out of T5 while AA flies out of T3 where this lounge is located. You can get to T3 from T5 by taking the landside ATS and then clearing security at T3. The TSA agents may ask you why you are in this terminal, but just say it is for accessing a particular lounge. You can then head to the Flagship Lounge.

    As you are a BA Executive Club Gold Member, you have oneworld Emerald status. This gets you and a guest flying on ANY same-day oneworld flight into the Flagship Lounge, even if it was a domestic flight.

  13. Bleh! Although I appreciate AA’s ensuring that the new Flagship Lounge is spacious enough to prevent overcrowding, it otherwise looks incredibly sterile and uninspired compared to the ORD Polaris Lounge. The seating is straight out of a dentist’s waiting room.

  14. @Jacob McCarthy

    Thanks! I’m surprised that it’s even possible. Got to love this site for knowledgeable posters!

  15. @Hiro:

    You do realize this is a Flagship Lounge, not an Admiral’s Club?

    Not sure you can compare the United Club at T7 in LAX to this.

    The admittance to the Flagship Lounge cannot be purchased via membership.

  16. Excellent photos as usual. Based on them I would give this AA lounge a 2.5 out of 5. The lighting is ghastly, harsh, glaring mercury vapor like in a non-descript office – along with that corridor entrance which gives the feeling of entering a cold corporate cave; very uninviting, even intimidating! The furnishings look cold, sterile and void of comfort and colours that could help to mute the overall cheap minimalist style. I prefer a First lounge like CX in Hong Kong which has a tastefully decorated and comfortable home/living room feel.

  17. @randy

    Marco Polo Silver is Oneword Ruby so would NOT have access to the flagship lounge when flying CX economy or premium economy.

    Kudos to AA this lounge looks like a big improvement and I love Bollinger!

  18. It’s a very good lounge. Not on the same level as The Pier, obviously, but certainly a bit better than The Wing and The Bridge. I’d even give it the nod over the Sakura Lounge at NRT (curry beef notwithstanding).

    There are times when this lounge gets extremely busy. I was there on a Sunday afternoon a week ago and it was absolutely packed. No issues getting a shower or a place to sit (luckily), but it was the busiest I’ve seen it.

  19. “Bollinger — that stuff isn’t cheap, and I heard corks pop faster than in a rap music video” HA!

    @Frank – tell him he’s dreamin’…

    @schar – essentially, an Admiral’s Club is a bog-standard lounge that you can earn OR buy your way into even in Y &/or without any elite status, whilst the Flagship Lounges are intended more as an elevated level of lounge that are solely for premium cabin (J/F) and elite status (OW Sapphire/Emerald) customers only.

  20. The Flagship lounge is awesome! Just came in from Shanghai and had 4 hours to kill before my connection. I had a very tasty meal, some really good wine and even showered…these showers are spa quality showers. Feel so much better getting on my connecting flight! Thanks AA!

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