Admirals Club Flagship Lounge Chicago, Review

The Admiral’s Club in Chicago’s O’Hare airport encompasses two levels with the middle level being the coveted flagship lounge. On a recent trip through Chicago on an Iberia Business Class ticket, we were granted entry to this exclusive retreat.

American has differing level of Admiral’s club in their program, with the top being the Flagship lounges. Only found in hub cities, Flagship lounges offer a much more refined and personalized experience than their lesser standard club cousins.

With locations in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, and coming soon to Philadelphia, you just might bump into one of these gems in your travels.


It was a cold winter’s day…

Nah, I won’t start out like that, but it was a cold March morning when we passed through the H/K gates in O’Hare and found the lounge entry. You’ll notice that there is a sign for both the Admiral’s club and the Flagship lounge.

Flagship entry is limited to those holding international first and business class tickets, certain transcontinental flights (LAX and JFK mostly), Platinum and above members with the Advantage program as long as you’re flying internationally, and OneWorld Sapphire and Emerald members.

Even if you are a Platinum, Platinum Pro, or Executive Platinum member, you can only enter on International itineraries, no domestic flights count.

We presented our boarding passes for Iberia and were given an invite to the Flagship floor. Once we entered that floor we surrendered that invitation (no sharing with friends!).

The Lounge

Once you’re out of the elevators, bathrooms are on your left and the counters for any flight changes or assistance on on your right. 

Seating was fairly wide open as there were not a ton of fliers heading out during the time we arrived. I can imagine as the Oneworld flights fill up during the day that this can get crowded.

There was a “champagne bar” which really was just some champagne bottles in an ice cooler. They were just making the change from breakfast to lunch so the lunch offerings were laid out in their buffet area.

Sushi, cold cuts, and cheese were on offer. AT LEAST they weren’t the standard cheese cubes that you get in most Admiral’s clubs…

Healthy options such as salads, pastas, green beans and baked potatoes…

Along with some southern selections of succotash and barbecue ribs…

Domestic and imported beers along with sake were yours for the taking in the cooler.

The free pour bar was just off to one side. If you wanted a double or a triple, here’s your chance. The alcohol options were pretty standard fare, but I do appreciate some local Chicago spirits. Kudos to American for allowing some local flair into their bar.

Sweettooths got their fill here as well. Candies from gummy bears and hot tamales to cheesecake and lemon bars were displayed.

The Chicago Botanical garden had a display of orchids on loan for their annual “In The Tropics” orchid show. Nice touch, but nothing says “Chicago Winters” like tropical orchids…

Just as we were getting our snack on and relaxing, we saw our Iberia plane pulling up to the gate. Iberia arrives in the international gate but then departs out of the domestic terminal, so it arrives empty to the gate. 

Overall Impressions

I have to say that Admiral’s Clubs in the USA have often underwhelmed us. Even the international lounges have their moments…

With that said, the offerings in the Chicago lounge were pretty good. It was a lot more than your standard dining and all the alcohol was free. In normal lounges you have to pay for your liquor, so this is a marked difference.

I’d love to see more of these lounges pop up as starting your trip off in relative comfort sure does make the rest of the journey more enjoyable (especially if you’re subjected to actually flying in American’s long haul products… which do leave a lot to be desired.

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. Do you get access flying business class into the USA?

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    • Will you be connecting onto an American Airlines flight?

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  2. I’ve been to all the Flagship Lounges – Chicago and JFK are the best, but LAX can be great for celebrity spotting and Miami has had delicious scallops every time we’ve departed for Europe in the evenings.

    For clarity, there is no charge for standard (well) drinks in any Admirals’ Club, including basic wine and typically a local beer or three on tap. You only pay for call liquor and top shelf wine/specialty craft beers. Usually, if you are traveling internationally in business or first from a non-hub city, you will receive two or more certificates that allow you “call” beverages at no cost. When I’ve asked politely, I’ve even gotten additional certificates on occasion.

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    • I wish you didn’t have to ask for certificates. Suppose that was the great part about here, just a free pour!

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