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TravelNatural light and space for all: A look at O'Hare's newest United...

Natural light and space for all: A look at O’Hare’s newest United Club


Since losing American Airlines elite status in March, I’ve been considering switching my loyalty to United Airlines. The carrier happens to have its largest hub at my home airport in Chicago. While considering my elite status strategy, I’ve been exploring what United has to offer at O’Hare International Airport (ORD), including its lounges.

To help with this important research, United let TPG take a look at the newest United Club at ORD, which opened in early 2023. Here’s what I found.

United Club lounge O’Hare location

Newest United Club at ORD. CAROLINE TANNER/THE POINTS GUY

O’Hare’s newest United Club is in Terminal 1, Concourse C; it’s next to Gate C10 and across from Gate C15. If you fly United at ORD frequently, you’re familiar with the airline’s colorful pedestrian walkway, connecting travelers to concourses B and C.

After you reach Concourse C, follow the signs for Gates C 1-16 and veer right as indicated; the arrow on the United Club sign points in that direction.

This United Club is not restricted to flyers out of C gates, but it is most convenient for them; there are also two United Clubs in Concourse B.

The lounge is open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

United Club lounge O’Hare access

United Clubs are accessible via credit card, status and paid options.

Cardholders of the United Club℠ Infinite Card ($525 annual fee) receive unlimited complimentary access for themselves and up to two guests or immediate family members (partner and children) per visit. The entry-level United℠ Explorer Card includes two single-use United Club passes yearly.

You can also pay for a United Club membership with either cash or miles; the price is based on your United Premier elite status.

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Select Premier members can access the United Club; specifically, United Premier Gold (and higher) members can access the carrier’s lounges when traveling internationally on any Star Alliance carrier, regardless of their class of service. They can also bring one guest departing on a Star Alliance carrier from the same airport. Star Alliance Gold members who hold status with another partner airline can use the United Club with any same-day Star Alliance boarding pass, including during domestic United travel.

Premium-cabin Star Alliance travelers can also use United Clubs, though the exact terms and guest privileges vary by ticket type.

You can purchase daypasses for $59 at United Club locations or through the United mobile app.

Related: Guide to United Club access

United Club lounge O’Hare layout

Newest United Club at ORD. CAROLINE TANNER/THE POINTS GUY

At 17,000 square feet, this United Club is nearly twice the size of the previous United Club it replaced near gate 16. There’s no shortage of space for loungegoers to work via individual tables, one-person desks, couches, lounge chairs and coworking-style desks with 400 seats overall.

As the newest United Club at ORD, you’ll find a modern design paying homage to its Chicago roots. It features brightly colored abstract murals from local Chicago artists, including Kate Lewis.

“It is one of the first United Club locations to open with the new club design and amenities,” a United spokesperson said. “It’s part of our ongoing commitment to renovate and introduce new United Club locations that reflect local communities and provide a more modern United brand experience.”

I appreciated the bright colors reflected in the centerpiece mural, tiled wall and jet bridge visible outside the lounge. However, the design choices did not immediately reflect Chicago to the naked, uninformed eye. There were industrial design touches in the large symmetrical windows, the large open floor plan and the high ceilings; there were metal, brick and concrete accents throughout.

United Club lounge O’Hare amenities

Newest United Club at ORD. CAROLINE TANNER/THE POINTS GUY

A wellness room is designed for parents to privately feed or change their children. It’s complete with a chair, table, sink, diaper disposal and changing table.

Additionally, there were men’s, women’s and gender-neutral family restrooms — all of which were clean and bright.

As is the case with all United Clubs, there was a customer service desk with two live agents to help customers with flight changes or other relevant issues. If you prefer to “get travel help without getting up,” there are various QR codes throughout the lounge you can scan for assistance with rebooking, upgrades and seat assignments.

United Club lounge O’Hare food and drinks

Newest United Club at ORD. CAROLINE TANNER/THE POINTS GUY

This United Club has a hot and cold buffet and light snacks. I was there during breakfast, which runs until 11 a.m. Then, it switches over to lunch.

Breakfast options included classics like scrambled eggs, turkey sausages and potatoes as well as a variety of pastries. Breakfast sandwiches, bagels, English muffins and toast were also available alongside a smorgasbord of toppings, such as apple butter, whipped honey ricotta and whipped avocado. A yogurt bar featured tiramisu overnight oats, fruit and granola; hot oatmeal and cereal rounded out the options.

The current menu highlights spring elements, including a spring salad with quinoa, spinach, feta, toasted sunflower seeds, craisins, garbanzo beans, red onion, dill and red wine vinaigrette. Entrees include a chicken cacciatore, tomato basil rigatoni and wild rice pilaf with roasted zucchini, Italian herbs and garlic.

Regardless of the time of your visit, you can find snacks on hand in the lounge, including gummy bears, peanuts, plantain chips, Chex Mix and fruit such as bananas, apples and oranges.

Nonalcoholic beverage options were expansive, and I was most impressed with their coffee selection. There was a customizable coffee machine to make espresso, cappuccinos and lattes; brewed Illy decaf and bold roast coffee; and various milk options, including almond.

Those who don’t drink coffee can choose from various Bigelow teas, fruit juices, filtered sparkling and tap water, citrus water, Nestle hot chocolate, a freestyle Coca-Cola machine and various Coke soft drinks.

The bar offered complimentary beverages, including beer, wine, liquor and nonalcoholic offerings. Premium alcoholic beverages were also available for purchase.

Of note are the automated robot trash collectors. This small but convenient detail allows customers to leave their dishes at their tables for pickup after they eat.

Bottom line

The space itself is what impressed me most. Even with a good crowd around my 10 a.m. arrival time, I could walk through the lounge and visit easily without ever feeling crowded.

Since United has a stronghold in Chicago, it makes sense for Chicago-based flyers to consider the airline their go-to. Plus, the lounge can help travelers (myself included) avoid feeling overwhelmed when attempting — and sometimes failing — to find a place to sit, charge a phone or work before a flight.

The United Club experience is another reason I am considering making United Airlines my airline of choice.

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