REVIEW – American Airlines Flagship Lounge, Chicago – ORD T3
American Airlines (AA)
Class: Business and First
OneWorld International First and Business Class ticket holders
American Airlines Transcontinental First and Business Class ticket holders
AA Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro and Platinum flying OneWorld Internationally Only
AA Concierge Key, Non-AA OneWorld Sapphire and Emerald status holders taking ANY OneWorld flight
Date: December 2017
American Airlines has been on an absolute tear for the past few years, investing in the hard product on board their planes and also reconfiguring their international lounges and bringing them up to the standard of their OneWorld stablemates JAL and Qantas.
I was very impressed with the new Flagship lounge in JFK and was hoping that this would be an equally modern facility, befitting of an internationally competitive airline.
The lounge was a little hard to find as the terminal signage only mentioned the Admirals Club, the lesser tier of lounge available to AA Elites or Premium cabin passengers flying domestically. I figured we could head there and ask the staff for directions.
No signs for the Flagship Lounge anywhere!
As we approached the Admirals Club, located between the K and H gates in Terminal 3, it became clear that we’d come to the right place. Whilst the old and tiny First Class lounge use to occupy an area at the end of the K gates, the new Flagship Lounge sits directly below the Admirals Club, on the 2nd Floor.
We were greeted at the combined lounge on the ground floor and given invites to the Flagship lounge.
Upon exiting the lift on the 2nd floor, we were greeted by an AAgent who took our invitations and welcomed us to the lounge.
A “Quiet Area” near the entrance to the lounge. You’ll notice that every single seat has access to both power sockets and table tops.
A very similarly designed area but not a designated quiet zone. Just beyond this was a darkened theatre room with TVs, rather unexpectedly, showing Premiership football.
The lounge benefits from a perfect location between two sets of gates and has some excellent planespotting views as a result! Again, all seats have access to both USB and regular US power sockets.
We decided to drop our bags at a window side table, in this little bar area, before heading on to explore the rest of the lounge.
Other than those at the dining tables, every seat in the Flagship lounge has access to power. This seems like a smart design choice, there are plenty of places for people to sit with a laptop, which means that dining tables will be kept free for people who are actually eating and drinking.
A bloody mary station featuring a choice of gin, tequila and two vodkas. All very decent brands. There was a selection of garnishes available including crispy bacon! This was almost enough to make up for the fact that the juices had all gone off and were beginning to fizz and ferment. The sign also incorrectly gave instructions for preparing a Manhattan and had probably been sitting there for as long as the mouldy beverages. We pointed this out to a lounge attendant who didn’t speak English… or Spanish. After finding another attendant we were able to get new, properly refrigerated, juices.
A selection of teas and a bean to cup coffee machine.
Window seats with a great view.
The main dining area looked like the canteen on a spaceship.
I was really impressed with the food options at this lounge. The cold cuts were all very high quality, not to mention the beef and pork tenderloin salads. The tuna hosomaki actually had a decent rice to fish ratio too!
Whole roasted quail, garlic chilli sea bass and my absolute favourite: braised beef short rib. This is one of the highest quality buffets I’ve ever encountered. Anywhere! Every single thing I tasted was absolutely delicious.
Hendricks, Belvedere, Glenlivet, Woodford Reserve, XO Cafe… wow. Seriously impressive for a lounge which would grant access to a BA Silver Card holder flying in economy!
At this point I feel I should mention that there was also a sunken countertop featuring bottles of champagne. These used to be Bollinger but when I visited both this lounge and the JFK lounge in early December of 2017, this had been downgraded to Taittinger. Still far better than most lounges in the US but a downgrade nonetheless, made within months of the lounges opening…
A very impressive selection of soft drinks including a machine that can make almost every soft drink ever! There is also a decent array of beers and even sake.
Garlic and chilli seabass, grilled asparagus, beef short ribs and wild rice with butternut squash, washed down with super spicy tequila bloody mary – with bacon garnish. I wish this was every meal of my life.
Trying to figure out when the GoPro will finally sync to my phone and take a pic.
After our amazing brunch my friend Andi and I hung out drinking bloody Marys, enjoying the sunshine and the views of the tarmac from our window seats. FUN FACT: In addition to being the only other person I know that is crazy enough to take a 7 flight itinerary from LHR-ORD in December, just to have dinner, Andi is also the voice of the Emirates ICE welcome on board video.
We passed through a winter snowstorm in JFK, with another having just hit London earlier in the morning. I would never have expected ORD to deliver the best weather on this winter trip!
I love seeing skyscrapers in the distance at airports…
Overall this is an absolutely fantastic lounge. AA have really come far in the last couple of years. Their 777s now all feature flat beds with direct aisle access and WiFi and slowly but surely their lounges are becoming equally cutting edge.
I wouldn’t put this in the same category as The Pier in HKG or the Qantas First lounge in SYD but it is very, very good and easily one of the best lounges available to business class and mid tier status holders on the OneWorld network. Ample daylight, runway views, fantastic food, a variety of top shelf spirits, almost every soft drink ever and power points at nearly every seat. What’s not to like?