New United Club Debuts At Chicago O’Hare Airport

New United Club Debuts At Chicago O’Hare Airport

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United Airlines has this week opened its newest United Club in Chicago, complementing recent lounge openings in Newark and Denver.

Basics of the new United Club Chicago O’Hare

A new United Club has opened at Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD). The lounge is 17,000 square feet, with seating for more than 400 guests. It’s located in Terminal 1 Concourse C, near gate C10, and is open daily from 5AM until 9PM. What should customers expect from this new lounge?

  • The club’s seating includes a variety of options, including recliners, couches, and chairs, and areas meant for lounging, dining, relaxing, working, and socializing
  • The club has self-scan e-gates for entry, as well as customer service via agent on demand kiosks, where travelers can video chat, text, or call a customer service representative with any travel needs or questions
  • For nursing parents of travelers looking to meditate or pray, the club has a dedicated wellness room
  • The lounge has Chicago-inspired design, described as bridging an industrial and modern look

The new United Club near gate C10 replaces the former United Club near gate C16. The new lounge is roughly twice the size of the previous United Club, so adds significant capacity, and should help with crowding. It’s my understanding that the United Club near gate C16 will eventually become part of the United Polaris Lounge, so that this space can expand. See this post for details on how to access United Clubs.

Below you can find some pictures of the new United Club Chicago.

United Club Chicago O’Hare entrance
United Club Chicago O’Hare entry
United Club Chicago O’Hare interior
United Club Chicago O’Hare bar
United Club Chicago O’Hare bar
United Club Chicago O’Hare bar
United Club Chicago O’Hare interior

My take on the new United Club Chicago

The new United Club Chicago looks nice to me. I like the design, I love the amount of natural light and floor-to-ceiling windows, and I appreciate that this lounge adds significant capacity, which always helps with reducing crowding.

A few thoughts beyond that:

  • What’s the point of customer service via agent on demand kiosks, rather than being able to deal with people in real life? That seems like a weird thing to highlight as a benefit of a new lounge, since usually one of the best parts of lounges is in-person customer service
  • The United Club Newark that opened in May 2022 was supposed to be the model for United Clubs going forward, and I love how that lounge has a barista bar; unfortunately it seems that concept isn’t being expanded to this lounge in Chicago, which is disappointing
  • Hopefully we also see soft product improvements with the opening of the new lounge, including an improved food selection
  • American is also refreshing its Admirals Clubs, and I have to say that I think I prefer American’s design style, and find it to be a bit more sophisticated and elegant; the United Club design still feels a bit sterile and industrial to me, though I do appreciate the art
I wish this United Club also had a barista bar

Bottom line

The new United Club Chicago O’Hare Concourse C has just opened. The lounge is located near gate C10, and replaces the United Club near gate C16 (which will become part of the Polaris Lounge). The lounge has nice decor, adds significant capacity, and has great views. I’m just sad that the barista bar that we saw introduced at the United Club Newark won’t be expanding to Chicago.

What do you make of the new United Club Chicago?

Conversations (18)
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  1. Mike Guest

    Ben, food quality is directly related to kitchen size. New clubs are built/renovated with much larger kitchens as a proportion of overall footprint than older clubs. There’s only so much you can do without the right infrastructure (storage, food prep, etc) in place.

  2. Kevin Guest

    I am at the club currently. I am not sure if this is only for the opening of the lounge but there are two staffed customer service desks near the self check in and once inside there is a staffed customer service desk next to the customer service kiosks.

  3. Trent Guest

    Are the wellness rooms only for the breastfeeding parents of religious devotees?

  4. Tortuga Diamond

    Customer service via agent-on-demand kiosks is an oxymoron.

  5. Chris Guest

    I was here on opening day…same day as the FAA meltdown. It was packed to capacity (for hours, obviously) but there was still some seating at the huge bar and plenty of staffing. The extra room really makes a difference when walking about. The food was excellent and shockingly they kept refilling it constantly. I was shocked they didn’t run out given all flights in the country were grounded. They have definitely upped their game....

    I was here on opening day…same day as the FAA meltdown. It was packed to capacity (for hours, obviously) but there was still some seating at the huge bar and plenty of staffing. The extra room really makes a difference when walking about. The food was excellent and shockingly they kept refilling it constantly. I was shocked they didn’t run out given all flights in the country were grounded. They have definitely upped their game. Hopefully they keep it as well staffed on a regular basis. I didn’t even notice the virtual assistants. They did have a desk open with CS people helping people with flight issues.

  6. Chris Guest

    So what space was taken over for this new UC?

    1. PT Guest

      Ramp space. They completely built out new core and shell to build this - so overall net increase in lounge space.

  7. Bgriff Guest

    United seems to really be pushing this virtual agent thing heavily through lots of channels ... I am not sure if I really get it myself, especially if it's replacing otherwise often-great lounge agents, but I guess I can understand the general concept that it's more efficient to have a single pool of assistance, since operations might be terrible in Chicago one day but fine in all of United's other hubs so you can hopefully...

    United seems to really be pushing this virtual agent thing heavily through lots of channels ... I am not sure if I really get it myself, especially if it's replacing otherwise often-great lounge agents, but I guess I can understand the general concept that it's more efficient to have a single pool of assistance, since operations might be terrible in Chicago one day but fine in all of United's other hubs so you can hopefully even out the demand a bit. I wonder if there is any sort of prioritization of requests coming from the lounge or if they're just in a general pool, which would suck.

    (It's also not entirely clear how this is different from or better than regular phone agents, though I think I have heard these virtual agents are essentially airport agents and can do some things that phone agents usually can't -- stuff that's "under airport control" -- though that doesn't really answer why that distinction needs to exist in the first place.)

    1. DLPTATL Diamond

      I agree that this could be a benefit if it's a dedicated pool of "lounge customer service agents" that only handle inbound issues from pax in the clubs. Some days the agents have very little action if their airport is running well while agents at another club are getting slammed.

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      virtual agents can't get body-slammed by irate customers - so they have that kind of job advantage.
      Seriously, though, a highly trained group of people that can quickly move from one customer to another is more efficient than expecting to have a ready expert in person when needed.
      Online chats for customer service issues (not just airline) have improved and work well.

    3. Emily_K New Member

      It might interest everyone to know that AOD agents are regular airport agents that work in an airport and this is one of their duties. So the agent you speak with may be in DEN or SFO or EWR, but they work at the airport and are well-versed in this sort of customer service. They’re not someone in a giant call center who’s never seen the inside of a terminal.

  8. Ryan Guest

    I agree that I really hope the food/beverage choice improves. I'd also love to see UA clubs get rid of all the disposable plates, cups, 'silverware' and provide real dishes. All of the Big 3 US carriers love to talk about sustainability, but their lounges are filled with disposable everything.... it's disgusting to see so much waste.

    1. Chris Guest

      It's not just the airlines. The entire country loves these disposable items. It's a shock for me every time I travel to the US from Europe despite doing that multiple times every year.

      Reminds of of my wife trying to keep her (plastic) cup in the UC in SFO from the lounge attendant trying to clean it up, just getting a lecture from the attendant that reusing cups is bad for your and everyone else health.. *sigh*

    2. 305 Guest

      All goes back to the bottom line. If it’s cheaper and can be green, they’ll implement it and brag about it forever. If it’s more expensive to be green, that’ll quickly be ignored as a potential solution

  9. Jim in Philly Guest

    Ben I assume you mean the old club near Gate C16 (not C10) will become part of the Polaris lounge

  10. John Guest

    They do have one in-person agent inside the club (their station is next to those self-service kiosks) but I can easily see that getting overwhelmed if there's a big weather event.

  11. 305 Guest

    Agreed, Ben. For real high spend/frequency travelers, it’s the miracle-working troubleshooting agents who are the main reason we value lounge access. This decision to move to all virtual for customer support would probably force me to give up my membership. The terminal is already less crowded and has better food options. Take away the agents and what’s the point of the lounge?

    1. Mary Guest

      I won't give up my membership but this is perhaps the biggest value that the lounges provide. My last trip through ORD I ran to the lounge for customer service assistance and then dined elsewhere.

      I am glad to hear that the Polaris lounge may expand. The ORD one is so small and completely disappointing

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Tortuga Diamond

Customer service via agent-on-demand kiosks is an oxymoron.

3
Bgriff Guest

United seems to really be pushing this virtual agent thing heavily through lots of channels ... I am not sure if I really get it myself, especially if it's replacing otherwise often-great lounge agents, but I guess I can understand the general concept that it's more efficient to have a single pool of assistance, since operations might be terrible in Chicago one day but fine in all of United's other hubs so you can hopefully even out the demand a bit. I wonder if there is any sort of prioritization of requests coming from the lounge or if they're just in a general pool, which would suck. (It's also not entirely clear how this is different from or better than regular phone agents, though I think I have heard these virtual agents are essentially airport agents and can do some things that phone agents usually can't -- stuff that's "under airport control" -- though that doesn't really answer why that distinction needs to exist in the first place.)

3
305 Guest

Agreed, Ben. For real high spend/frequency travelers, it’s the miracle-working troubleshooting agents who are the main reason we value lounge access. This decision to move to all virtual for customer support would probably force me to give up my membership. The terminal is already less crowded and has better food options. Take away the agents and what’s the point of the lounge?

3
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