01: Introduction: Domestic United Airlines 747-400’s in Global First and economy class
02: United Airlines 737-900/ER Economy Plus (premium economy) San Diego to San Francisco
03: United Airlines 747-400 economy class San Francisco to Chicago
04: Hilton Chicago O’Hare airport
05: United Club, Concourse B, ORD
06: American Airlines Admirals Club, ORD
07: United Airlines 747-400 Global First (first class) Chicago to San Francisco
08: United Airlines A320 economy class San Francisco to San Diego
Having just shelled out $60 for a one-time pass that allowed me to sit in the United Club for a couple hours (shameful, I know), it felt really good to strut over to the American Airlines Admirals Club here in terminal 2, flash my City Executive Card, and walk in like a boss. Ok, well, at least it felt like that for only a brief moment. Domestic airline lounges aren’t usually any more extravagant these days compared to any random quiet spot you could find outside in the main terminal, and the only real perks travelers get at these clubs are a basic assortment of free finger foods and slightly softer seating options. There’s also no guarantee that the lounge will offer a more quiet and relaxed environment than what you can find outside – so think twice before you pay out of pocket to access a day pass for one of these lounges.
Located right in the heart of terminal 2, I’ve walked past the entrance to this particular Admirals Club a million times (give or take) over my years flying in and out of ORD. I’ve never once stepped inside before today, and I really didn’t know what to expect before going in. I assumed that it would be a very large lounge due to the fact that American Airlines has a pretty substantial operation here and this is the only Admirals club on premises. And the “Executive Center” signage on the outside made it feel especially more important, even though I didn’t even know what that really meant.
The “Executive Center” label became more apparent as I made my way past the front entrance and found myself at the elevators which would take me up two flights to the main lounge. The Executive Center was on the second floor, which led me to assume was just conference rooms and meeting spaces. I didn’t feel like pushing my luck and getting thrown out of someplace I wasn’t allowed to be, so I just focused my attention on the Admirals Club on the third floor today. You can bet I’m gonna check out that second floor if I ever fly though here wearing something a bit nicer than my ratty jeans and and trusty North Face backpack!
Right away I was impressed with the layout of this club. I guess I was expecting one large open room like the United Club I just came from, but this one was much larger and broken up into a myriad of smaller rooms with lots of little nooks and crannies. In my opinion, that’s the way an airline lounge should be. Large open spaces don’t feel as comfortable and cozy as a multi-room layout with a large variety of seating options.
Also much appreciated was the fact that instead of one centrally located self-service food bar, there were actually several located throughout the entire lounge. Each one offered basically the same kinds of food, but it was nice not having everyone in the lounge hovering over a single food station.
The finger food here was comparable to what I had just found in the United Club over in concourse B, but this Admirals Club took it one step further with a walk-up food-for-purchase station that looked somewhat decent. I didn’t try any food from here as all I needed was just a light snack to hold me over until my Global First 747-400 flight SFO I was scheduled to board a few hours later. There was sure to be food served on that flight, so I wanted to be at least halfway hungry for it.
Finally, here are a handful of other random pics to wrap up this review:
Having experienced other Admirals Clubs at San Diego and San Francisco, my final thought about this one here at O’Hare was that there’s very little consistency across the brand. So far I’ve found Delta SkyClubs to be the most consistent from location to location, but to me, American Airlines seems not so concerned about their lounge experience. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – every Admirals Club I’ve visited so far has been quite nice, so at least I can feel confident I’ll have a comfortable stay no matter which one I visit.