Our trip to began in Chicago on a cold, windy winter day. The cold isn’t usually a problem for O’Hare operations, but as the day wore on, the snow became a problem, ultimately leading to a pretty significant departure delay.
I’m generally not someone who arrives to airports really early, and in this case, even though we could access the United Global First Class Lounge, based on past experiences (in 2010, in 2012, and in 2015), I didn’t feel the need to spend much extra time there. The lounge is exclusive in terms of access, but it is really not anything all that special or worth much extra time.
Some nice Chicago-centric art in the United Global First Lounge
This lounge is undoubtedly better than the United Clubs at O’Hare. As a First Class passenger on a Star Alliance airline, I had access to this lounge before my flight on ANA. This would be the only lounge I would access since this leg of the trip was only this one flight, from O’Hare to Tokyo Narita. As a reminder, this trip was booked using United miles, 110,000 miles plus $11.20 in taxes per person.
We arrived at the ANA check in area on far end of United’s Terminal 1 check in lobby. There was no wait for the First Class line. We had a very nice United agent who checked us in, although she seemed new to ANA’s systems. We were planning to connect to a JAL flight on a separate ticket, so it took some time to manage our checked baggage. Once completed, she offered to escort us to security. Not really needed, but we were having a nice conversation, so it was nice to continue it for a few minutes as we walked all the way across Terminal 1 to the priority check in area there. That was odd, but without PreCheck, I guess that was our best option.
From there, we headed back towards the underground connector and walked towards the C gates, where the United Global First Lounge is located. There is more food available than just the nibbles in the United clubs, but it wasn’t anything I got too excited about. I knew there would be plenty of food on the flight, and even though airplane food isn’t much to get excited about, I correctly assumed it would be better than what was being served in the lounge.
Food and drink selection in the O’Hare United Global First Lounge, December 2015
There was a selection of pre-wrapped and rather sad looking sushi along with pastries, and cereal. The ANA flight was scheduled to depart at 10:45, so while the lounge was pretty empty (another couple was there who was also on our flight, plus one other guest), the food options were worse than I remember from past visits. Maybe breakfast time is the reason, since there are relatively few flights where people would normally have access to this lounge.
As for alcohol, the selection is self serve. Beer and Baileys can been seen in the fridge in the above photo. I didn’t partake at this early hour, but there was a pretty decent selection of liquors plus Veuve Clicquot champagne on ice. Seems like the liquor selection has improved slightly over the years, mostly thanks to the marketing agreements United has with several of the vendors.
Liquor Selection at the O’Hare United Global First Lounge, December 2015
For the purposes of comparison, here is how the liquor selection has changed over time based on my past visits:
Here is what was on offer in 2012
And this photo from 2010
Is this lounge it worth a stop? Sure, if you have access to this lounge, why not? Is it worth getting there very early to maximize the experience? Not really.
Soon it was time to head to our gate just before boarding time. The weather outside wasn’t improving, but we were hopeful we wouldn’t have any delays. As it would turn out, we wouldn’t be so lucky.
Next up, a review of our experience in ANA First Class from Chicago to Tokyo.
For an introduction and index of posts for this series, please click here.