The American Airlines Flagship Lounge at ORD opened in the Fall of 2017. Although I got a sneak peek shortly after it opened, this trip to Beijing, China was the first time I had access to this lounge legitimately.
Location and Hours
The ORD Flagship Lounge is located in Terminal 3 on the connector between Concourses H and K. It shares an entrance with the American Airlines Admirals Club. This lounge is open from 0500 to 2200 daily.
Four sets of customers currently have access to the ORD Flagship Lounge: (1) those on or connecting to an international or transcontinental flight in business or first class on American or other oneworld carrier; (2) American Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro and Platinum members flying on or connecting to an international flight in any cabin; (3) oneworld Emeralds and Sapphires on or connecting to a same-day international flight operated by a oneworld carrier regardless of cabin flown; and (4) Concierge Key members on any flight in any cabin.
As a general rule, anyone with access can bring one guest. Family over the age of two count as a guest. Those privileged Concierge Key members can bring in two guests or any family members (spouse, domestic partner or children under 18).
The Flagship Lounge
At the Admirals Club entrance present the boarding pass to the friendly agent who, if you meet the access requirements, will issue an invitation to the Flagship Lounge. Enter and take the elevator to the second level. (The Admirals Club is on level 3.)
An agent greets passengers as they get off the elevator. Produce the invitation and boarding pass to be admitted.
Immediately inside the lounge are stations for agents to verify credentials.
To the right are several stations for agents who can assist with flight information and answer other questions.
General seating is behind and to the right of the agent stations. Seating for diners is to the left of the stations.
The lounge has a theater at the back of the lounge on the right.
There are several coffee and snack stations and small dining areas within the seating areas.
Food and Beverages
Food and beverages are where the Flagship Lounges distinguish themselves from most other business-class airline lounges in the U.S. or elsewhere.
Until a couple of years ago, I was almost exclusively a Delta flier racking up over 2,000,000 miles flying that airline. Delta would have us believe that it does everything better than its rivals in the U.S.. While the average Skyclub is nicer than the average Admirals Club, Delta doesn’t have a Skyclub that can hold a candle to the Flagship Lounges in terms of free food and beverages.
United has introduced the Polaris lounge; however, there is only one of them (ORD), and United has delayed the rollout of others perhaps permanently. Scott Kirby, who left American Airlines to become President of United, is reportedly no fan of the whole Polaris concept, which was the brainchild of the departed Jeff Smisek.
At ORD, the dining and food and beverage area of the lounge is left of the check-in area.
The food is available at two large buffets.
The other buffet displays entrees and side dishes.
The beverage selection is located to the left of the buffets. In addition to the wine/champagne bar, the lounge offers an wide variety of quality alcoholic beverages for a business-class lounge. There is no bartender.
From the variety of offerings on the buffet, one should never have difficulty putting together a delicious repast.
There is also a station near the beverages where a chef prepares breakfast fare like omelets or later in the day guacamole and other treats.
Unlike the Flagship Lounges at LAX, JFK and MIA, this lounge does not have First Class Dinning, which is a separate restaurant with meals ordered from menu. First Class Dining is only available to American Airlines passengers flying internationally in first class. ORD has no such flights presently although an American representative said that space was available should international first-class flights be added. I suspect though that if there are only one or two such flights in the future American may not open a First Class Dining facility for a maximum of only eight passengers at a time.
A shower before a long flight always improves my attitude and I wanted to see what these showers looked like for this review.
The shower room I used (above) had all of the features I like such as hand lotion, a hair dryer, a bench and a luggage rack, electrical outlets, a shower with dual shower heads, easily identifiable shower amenities, and a toilet. The room lacked a shaving mirror. Perhaps one will be added.
In addition to the assistance of American Airlines agents, the lounge offers good wifi, newspapers and magazines in several languages, a business center, of course, bathrooms.
Even though American should open First Class Dining to Executive Platinum members (we get sit down a la carte dining in Cathay Pacific and Qantas first class lounges), Flagship Lounges are great. The ORD Flagship Lounge offers outstanding buffet fare, and high quality alcoholic beverages.
Where this lounge falls a little short is in decor and ambiance. The lounge follows the same basic design as other Flagship lounges but doesn’t pull it off as well as the JFK Flagship Lounge, for example.
On the whole, however, I rate the ORD Flagship Lounge as an outstanding business-class lounge.