The American Airlines Flagship Lounge at Chicago O’Hare airport is tucked in a corner at the very end of the K concourse in Terminal 3. To get there, walk to gate K20 and turn right. It has a pretty nondescript entrance; if I weren't looking for the lounge, I'd probably miss it.
To gain entry into the Flagship lounge, travelers must be flying in international first class on a Oneworld carrier, or be a Oneworld Emerald member traveling internationally.
I arrived at the lounge around 11am on a Friday after a short flight from New York.
The concierge member who checked me in was very friendly and offered to explain the features of the lounge. She also informed me that my next flight to Beijing was delayed until 5pm and that they would announce boarding.
The ORD AA Flagship Lounge is relatively small compared to the nearby Admirals Club in the K concourse. It was quite empty when I arrived and it remained quiet for the next four hours. During this time, there were no more than 15 guests in the lounge.
The Flagship Lounge feels like a previous generation outstation admirals club. There is plenty of wood and marble and leather. The look is a bit dated for my taste, but perfectly comfortable. There are several dividers that segment the seating areas into distinct zones, creating some privacy. However, the seats tend to be tightly packed together in each section; if the lounge were at full capacity, the space would feel claustrophobic with little room to maneuver.
There is a separate quiet room (formerly a smoking lounge) separated by a glass wall and door. There are also 7 individual workstations (2 furnished with Dell computers) and a multi-function printer off the main seating area.
The food spread was decent for a domestic US airline lounge.
As I arrived, the breakfast buffet was transitioning to a lunch spread.
There were quite a few vegetarian items on offer for lunch: grilled zucchini and squash, minestrone soup, wild rice pilaf, mashed potatoes, and seasoned green beans. There were also chicken and beef entrees, as well as sushi and instant noodles. Plenty of assorted alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks were available, along with whole fruit and some dry snacks.
Staff members circulated regularly to clear used plates and wipe up spills. Everyone was very pleasant.
The wifi speeds in the lounge were decent. I was able to participate in video conferences without any issues. The upstream speeds felt a bit slow when uploading large files, but overall it was perfectly acceptable.
Over the four initial hours I spent at the AA Flagship Lounge, a few additional patrons came and left, but it remained pretty quiet overall. I returned to the lounge between 5-7pm after hearing my Beijing flight was delayed another two hours. The lounge was busier during this time, but more than half the seats were still empty. This made for a significantly quieter experience than the standard Admirals Club.
It’s too bad that US airlines just aren’t competitive with first class lounges like those found at Cathay, Emirates, and Qatar hub airports. I would argue that even the business class lounges of those airlines far exceed the best first class lounges of US airlines.
Summary of American Airlines Flagship Lounge Chicago O'Hare
The lounge is very simple and unmemorable, but is still a solid choice for flyers in AA international first class or eligible Oneworld Emerald members to escape the hustle and bustle of the terminal. I had a very pleasant and productive stay and will likely visit again during my next layover at O’Hare.