O’Hare International Airport or Chicago O’Hare is an international airport located on the Northwest Side of Chicago, Illinois. We review the best airport lounge if you are flying in First or Business Class or have a Priority Pass or relevant credit card.
On Lake Michigan in Illinois, Chicago is among the largest cities in the U.S. with a skyline of skyscrapers, including the John Hancock Center, Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), and the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower. We have already reviewed the best executive or club lounges in Chicago.
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Free Airport Lounge Access
If you have not paid for Business Class or First Class, you can access airport lounges for free if you have an unlimited Priority Pass or an Amex Platinum card. To get bonus referral points and advice on the Platinum American Express and other free lounge access credit cards, have a read of our best credit cards for luxury travel.
1. United Polaris lounge, Terminal 1, Concourse C
The United Polaris lounge is the best airline lounge at ORD airport and can be found in Terminal 1 in Concourse C, next to gate C18. This United Polaris lounge is open from 7.15 am – 9:00 pm and we reviewed the Chicago Polaris lounge previously. There is also a United Club lounge next to gate C16, which is not as good.
If you are flying long-haul international United Polaris Business Class from ORD (or on a Star Alliance flight in Business or First), you simply need to scan your boarding pass to access this lounge. If you are flying domestic Business Class, you do not automatically get access.
This is the kind of lounge which is a pleasure to spend time in. The interior design has been meticulously thought out, and we particularly like the sparkly star-like lighting in the ceilings.
There are plenty of private seating booths and options, as well as a stylish bar with bar stools. Some of the chairs have excellent airport views looking out towards the planes.
There is a dining area within this lounge with an excellent selection of food and drinks. There is a buffet with hot options, tasty salads, sandwiches, wraps, snacks, and desserts, but the highlight is the table service dining option with menus and waiters. The menu includes:
- Cocktails, Wine & Spirits including Champagne
- Breakfast Light Bites (served until 11:00 am)
- Breakfast Entrées (served until 11:00 am)
- Lunch and Dinner Small Plates
- Lunch and Dinner Entrées
The food is good and tasty, and the Entrées when we visited were:
- Mahi Mahi with sweet potato mash and cabbage
- Oraange seared chicken breast
- A Mushroom and rice dish
There were also various shrimp starters and small dishes and “omelet your way” if you are there for breakfast. The quality of the food is excellent. Puddings included apple spice cupcake, citrus mousse, and double chocolate cookie, which is warmed and comes with vanilla ice cream and is highly recommended.
Within the lounge, there is fast, free Wi-Fi and excellent modern shower rooms. There are also daybeds like chaise longues in a private room to enable you to rest before your flight.
2. American Airlines Flagship Lounge, between H and K concourses
The other great lounge at Chicago airport is the American Airlines Flagship Lounge. American’s Flagship Lounges used to be open to international First Class and Oneworld Emerald passengers. Now they’re also open to International Business Class and Oneworld Sapphire passengers. American Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Platinum members traveling on a long-haul international itinerary, regardless of the class of service, also have access.
The lounge is located in the same area as the American Airlines Admirals Club. The length of the lounge has floor to ceiling windows overlooking the planes and the runway. You could spend all day watching American’s planes. There are some particularly good desk seats with powerpoints looking directly out to the planes in this lounge, ideal for catching up with work.
There are chaise longue style day beds, numerous other seating areas, and a dining area. Within the dining area, there is self-serve alcohol, including champagne and wines. There are whole fruit and sweets plus a huge selection of good quality food. At breakfast, expect muffins, freshly cooked fried potatoes, sausages, bacon, eggs (scrambled), sushi, smoked salmon, salami, nuts, veggies, berries and cut fruit, mini boxed cereal, and crepes. The coffee is good, and the bathrooms and shower suites are smart with rainfall and handheld showerheads, and high-end toiletries.
3. United Airlines United Clubs, Terminal 1
United Airlines actually has three additional United Club lounges in Terminal 1, two in Concourse B (at Gates B18 and B6), and one in Concourse C. Unlike the Polaris lounge. These United Club lounges are open to all United Club members. Anyone ticketed on United Airlines can usually purchase a one-day pass to use the clubs.
All three provide hot and cold food, snacks, complimentary drinks at the bar, free Wi-Fi, computers with internet access, newspapers, and TVs. There are shower facilities at the Concourse C lounge.
4. British Airways First and Terraces Lounges, International Terminal 5
Terminal 5 is the international terminal, so there is a good selection of international airline lounges. All the international airline lounges at Chicago O’hare’s terminal 5 are fairly poor. The BA, Air France Lounge, SAS Lounge, and SWISS Lounges can get crowded, tend to have limited food and no showers.
As regular flyers with British Airways, we always feel homey in a BA lounge. The lounges at Chicago O’Hare International Airport are no exception. There is a small but well-formed First Class lounge. This lounge has a great view of the planes. Food is not exceptional with snacks and a bar.
The Terraces Lounge is for Business Class passengers with good food but no view. Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members and Cathay Pacific elite flyers can use this lounge as well as premium BA passengers.
5. SWISS First and Business Lounges, International Terminal 5
Star Alliance Gold passengers and SWISS travelers with frequent flyer status as well as First and Business Class passengers can use these smart lounges. The look is Swiss with nice wooden finishings, and there is an extensive buffet and a complimentary bar in each lounge.
6. SAS Lounge, International Terminal 5
The SAS Lounge is extremely stylish and modern if a little minimalist. There are workstations and free Wi-Fi. SAS and Asiana First Class and Business Class passengers can access this lounge, along with Star Alliance Business Class passengers, Star Alliance Gold members, and Euro Bonus Gold members.
7. Swissport Lounge, International Terminal 5
Not to be confused with the Swiss Airlines Business lounge, which is next to Gate M9. This lounge can be accessed by First Class and Business Class passengers from Alitalia, Copa, Hainan Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Turkish Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic. Day passes are also sometimes on sale for this lounge.
This is one of two available Priority Pass Chicago lounges, which are both in Terminal 5. The other is the Air France KLM Lounge. This lounge can be found between Gates M7 and M8. Its door faces the KLM/Air France Lounge.
Inside, the lounge is small and square, with smaller rooms leading off the main room. There is no view or natural light, making it one of the worst lounges in Terminal 5. It also lacks many charging stations.
Food is pretty poor in this lounge throughout the day with crackers, processed cheese, cookies, granola bars, and other snacks. But in the evening, there is a hot bar with meatballs, dinner rolls, and veggie platters, as well as pre-packed sandwiches (chicken salad and tomato and mozzarella).
This is a self-serve bar, with spirits and wines including Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio in individual bottles.
8. Air France KLM Lounge, International Terminal 5
This Air France airport lounge is one long room with leather chairs. There are large windows along one side showing the planes and offering plenty of natural light. The self-serve buffet station offers sandwiches, pasta, and vegan boxes with hummus and beans, etc. This lounge is branded Air France and KLM but is also used by passengers of Aer Lingus, Aeromexico, Air India, Etihad Airways, Korean Air, and Royal Jordanian Airlines.
9. Delta Sky Club, Terminal 2
Located between Gates E6 and E7 of Terminal 2 is the Delta Sky Club. You can access this lounge with a Delta credit card or an American Express Platinum card, or you can buy a day pass to give you access on a one-time basis. Delta Sky Club members and their guests can also use this lounge.
This lounge is rather small, so it can fill up, but there are cozy alcoves available if you need to work in quiet. A business center is also available if you need access to a printer. Expect to find continental breakfast, salad bars, and various snacks — as well as hot dogs (this is Chicago, after all).
10. United Airlines United Club, Terminal 2
United Airlines United Club in Terminal 2 at Chicago O’Hare International airport lounge is nice looking and modern with big windows looking out onto planes and the usual spread of food, including cut veggies, cheese cubes, brownies, and packets of snacks plus warm cheese pasta.
11. American Airlines Admirals Club, Terminal 3
There are American Airlines Admirals Clubs at Concourses G, H, or L. All offer basic snacks and cold breakfasts, coffee, and house spirits choices. The Admirals Club between Concourses H and K is larger, with views over the planes and shower facilities.
12. USO Lounge, Terminal 2
The USO Lounge is open to you if you are a member of the U.S. military, but it’s outside security. Inside there’s a playroom for the kids, board games, a quiet library area, movie rentals on a big-screen TV, and a kitchenette with free food.
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