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Everything you wanted to know about AA terminal / connections at Chicago - ORD

Everything you wanted to know about AA terminal / connections at Chicago - ORD

 
Old Sep 29, 12, 6:54 pm
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Everything you wanted to know about AA terminal / connections at Chicago - ORD

Based on a splendid suggestion from our mod JDiver, I thought we could use an information thread about ORD for AA connections, including pros, cons, tips and strategies. I'll begin, but my list is hardly comprehensive and hopefully others will share as well!

First off, the AA terminal map:


Ticket Counter Hours: 3:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
AA Flagship Lounge near K19 6:30 a.m. – 9:45 p.m. daily (not on map)
ORD / Chicago O'Hare (AA-centric, July 2014)

This shows the different concourses, as well as the locations of facilities like the lounges.

Some of the things I personally think help counterbalance the overcrowding (of planes, not people) and weather at ORD are:

1. Ease of navigation. Unlike MIA for example, which practically requires a tour guide, it's pretty straightforward, albeit fairly large.

2. Airside connections to all but the int'l terminal. It makes switching airlines that much easier if you must and it's a feature few airports have.

3. BA shuttle. No, BA did not institute ORD-LHR hourly shuttle service (yea, we wish... ), but they now have a bus that runs from T3 (AA terminal) to T5 (int'l terminal) for AA pax connecting to BA flights. Must have a BA BP, though (sorry for those connecting to CX).

4. Food offerings in AA terminal. The Frontera Grill is just about tops for airport food, beaten only by the offerings at SFO T2 (in my opinion).

5. Schedules. Despite frequent delays, it's pretty difficult to beat for schedules. AA serves most domestic destinations from ORD (except for a few smaller ones only served from DFW) and there tend to be multiple flights per day. It's also relatively convenient in terms of geography for int'l connections from most parts of the country and serves pretty much every int'l destination AA offers outside of South America.

6. Multiple AC lounges. While JFK, MIA and DFW also feature several their placement at ORD is quite good; there's a massive one between the H and K concourses which you almost certainly have to pass by when making a connection, as well as a mini "satellite" club over in the AE concourse. Also a FL exists at the end where most 777s depart from for those traveling int'l.

7. Lodging options if connecting overnight/misconnecting/experiencing ire-ops. The ORD Hilton, which is connected underground to T3, is probably the best on-site airport hotel I've ever used. The other hotel options feel closer by than at many other airports.

8. Public transportation. ORD remains the only airport, other than DCA and SFO, which I will access via public transportation because it's often faster/more convenient than car. It is the only airport I know of, outside of DCA, where the subway actually comes into the airport and there's no need to take some kind of shuttle or tram to/from (like with SFO or BOS). Also wayyyyyyyy cheaper than the SFO equivalent.

9. Another major airline uses ORD as a main hub as well. Yes, that's important. Why? Because in the case of major delays or cancellations it's much easier to get rebooked on another carrier than at DFW or MIA. LGA, JFK, LAX and SFO are probably similarly well equipped, but these are much less likely to be used as connecting airports (particularly LGA and SFO).

Others probably connect here much more frequently than I do, so hopefully they will share other tips and tricks such as best places to hide out if no AC access is available, which service centers/desks generally have very helpful agents or rarely have lines, good ways to handle irr-ops when trying to decide what course of action to take and other things like that. The more contributions we get the less painful we can make ORD connections, which aren't always fun if there's weather or ATC issues (which there often are).


============MODERATOR NOTE============

The ORD / Chicago O'Hare Connection Times - Domestic & International (consolidated) thread can be found here.

Last edited by JDiver; Jul 7, 14 at 12:52 pm Reason: add link to connections times thread / image
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Old Sep 29, 12, 7:14 pm
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Maybe it is just me, but ORD transfers always seem to involve more walking than DFW due to DFW's Skylink. ORD also has Eagle flights to a lot of destinations that are mainline on DFW (ABQ, SLC, BDL, ATL, IAH among others off the top of my head). The number of mainline from ORD and Eagle from DFW destinations is fewer. DFW also has several well-placed ACs, D is usually overcrowded and I've started to avoid it personally, but A is very good (and has likely the best showers anywhere in a US airline lounge, definitely the best in the AA system). I went to the DFW C AC for the first time today, it was very nice, and not remotely crowded. Won't get to B until December. Maybe I should write a DFW connections thread .

Advantages to me for ORD is, in no particular order, Tortas Frontera, there's another place near it that recently opened that is supposed to be very good (wine bar I believe?), the H/K AC, and the fact that it is all connected on one level in more of a straight line, which I think would be easier for travelers requiring wheelchair assistance, unlike the DFW Skylink, or going around the curls of the DFW terminals on foot, which I feel would take longer. I think ORD is also 8X daily from BOS or around there, DFW is slightly less, so that's a bonus for me .
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Old Sep 29, 12, 7:30 pm
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Originally Posted by TheBOSman View Post
Maybe I should write a DFW connections thread .
Please do! Ideally we'd have one for each of AA's major connecting hubs, ORD, DFW and MIA (LAX and JFK seem a bit more o/d heavy but hey, nothing wrong with threads on them as well)!
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Old Sep 29, 12, 8:03 pm
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Might as well start it. Will take me a few days though, I'm currently in SEA, though I will be connecting through DFW tomorrow so I can poke around a little more.

Just remembered, for non-AC access, does ORD have the public charger plugs that DFW seems to have an abundance of now? I was surprised today at both how many of them exist now and how many are using them.
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Old Sep 29, 12, 8:06 pm
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Never heard of this Tortas Fronteras place...when we're going through Chicago, we want to eat Chicago...preferably an Italian Beef sandwich from the Billy Goat, and/or a not so great but still Chicago deep dish pizza.
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Old Sep 29, 12, 8:22 pm
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Probably not real high on most people's list of priorities, but worth noting nonetheless is the fact that travelers are not allowed to make purchases from the duty free shop at ORD unless traveling on an international itin that day. Not that it's all that great of a shop (at least the one in T3; haven't been to the one in T5 in at least a decade), but if you're someone like me who enjoys buying hard-to-find and/or new fragrances, duty free shops are the place to do it. IME, the duty free shops at most airports (LAX and LHR immediately come to mind), allow all travelers to purchase anything except booze and tobacco, though you do have to pay sales tax if you're not flying on an international itin that day. Since ORD is my home airport, I'm annoyed that the one place I can't indulge is the airport I frequent most!
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Old Sep 29, 12, 8:27 pm
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Originally Posted by Eujeanie View Post
Never heard of this Tortas Fronteras place...when we're going through Chicago, we want to eat Chicago...preferably an Italian Beef sandwich from the Billy Goat, and/or a not so great but still Chicago deep dish pizza.
Well, Tortas Fronteras is an offshoot of Frontera Grill; a well known Chicago establishment founded by Top Chef Rick Bayless. While most of Bayless' inspirations come from small Mexican villages, it's every bit a Chicago restaurant.
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Old Sep 29, 12, 8:28 pm
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Originally Posted by TheBOSman View Post

Just remembered, for non-AC access, does ORD have the public charger plugs that DFW seems to have an abundance of now? I was surprised today at both how many of them exist now and how many are using them.
I seem to remember these around ORD but I think you have to pay for them (not sure how it is at DFW). However I could be thinking of SFO, since ORD-SFO-ORD was my most recent trip...
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Old Sep 29, 12, 8:30 pm
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Originally Posted by TheBOSman View Post
Does ORD have the public charger plugs that DFW seems to have an abundance of now? I was surprised today at both how many of them exist now and how many are using them.
They're not in abundance outside of the AC. However, in the walkway between gate K1 and Concourse L, there is a little-used row of seats that overlook the tarmac. These have outlets built into them under plastic covers, and there are also several on nearby walls. For some reason, this transit area tends to be much quieter than the hustle and bustle of the gate concourses. When there is no departure from gate K1, I also find the K1 waiting area seats that overlook the tarmac to be relatively quiet, private, and within reach of a wall outlet.
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Old Sep 29, 12, 8:32 pm
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Originally Posted by Upgraded! View Post

6. Multiple AC lounges. While JFK, MIA and DFW also feature several their placement at ORD is quite good; there's a massive one between the H and K concourses which you almost certainly have to pass by when making a connection, as well as a mini "satellite" club over in the AE concourse. Also a FL exists at the end where most 777s depart from for those traveling int'l.
Speaking of the ORD Flagship, IMHO it's by far the best of the domestic AA lounges (i.e. preferred over that at JFK and LAX).

(Also the Vosges chocolatier at ORD is arguably the best treat for a spouse and/or significant other with a well-versed palate for gourmet sweets...)
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Old Sep 29, 12, 8:38 pm
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Also worth noting is that the Flagship Lounge in T3 is just seconds from the boarding areas for gates K12-20. There is even a back door from the lounge that opens directly into the boarding area for one of the gates (I can't remember for sure which gate that is right now, but I think it's K18). On several occasions, I've remained in the lounge right up to the moment boarding begins for the evening flights to LHR and then just gone directly from comfy lounge to comfy C or F seat. Very nice.
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Old Sep 29, 12, 8:42 pm
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Originally Posted by MasterPlanner View Post
Speaking of the ORD Flagship, IMHO it's by far the best of the domestic AA lounges (i.e. preferred over that at JFK and LAX).

(Also the Vosges chocolatier at ORD is arguably the best treat for a spouse and/or significant other with a well-versed palate for gourmet sweets...)
I've never been to the JFK FL but would have to agree that the ORD lounge is a lot better than LAX, which feels dilapidated, dirty and dated. It's also MUCH less crowded since after about 6pm (when I've been) it's just the F pax/Emeralds headed to LHR, whilst the LAX lounge are F/Emerald headed to LHR, plus anyone making a domestic connection off of an inbound three-class transcon, plus those departing on the T4 QF flight, plus those connecting from an earlier int'l flight in F/as Emerald (not sure any of the times line up, though) and finally, the QF/CX Emeralds on AA domestic flights (would imagine LA has more than Chicago).
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Old Sep 29, 12, 8:58 pm
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I have 5 connections through ORD coming up on my trip mid Oct-late Nov.
SEA-xORD-STL
STL-xORD-DTW
DTW-xORD-LAX
IAH-xORD-DCA
DCA-xORD-AMM

Thankfully, it's only one trip through TSA (T3-T5 transfer for AMM flight).
Do all Eagle flights use the G gates?
I have access to the Flagship lounge (QF Plat).
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Old Sep 29, 12, 9:07 pm
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Originally Posted by Himeno View Post
I have 5 connections through ORD coming up on my trip mid Oct-late Nov.
SEA-xORD-STL
STL-xORD-DTW
DTW-xORD-LAX
IAH-xORD-DCA
DCA-xORD-AMM

Thankfully, it's only one trip through TSA (T3-T5 transfer for AMM flight).
Do all Eagle flights use the G gates?
I have access to the Flagship lounge (QF Plat).
Yes, AE uses the G gates. Unfortunately, the FL is a bit out of the way at ORD; they placed it at the end where they typically have 777s depart from but it's worth the walk over the AC if you have a long connection.
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Old Sep 29, 12, 9:12 pm
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Never heard of this Tortas Fronteras place...when we're going through Chicago, we want to eat Chicago...preferably an Italian Beef sandwich from the Billy Goat, and/or a not so great but still Chicago deep dish pizza.

Well, Tortas Fronteras is an offshoot of Frontera Grill; a well known Chicago establishment founded by Top Chef Rick Bayless. While most of Bayless' inspirations come from small Mexican villages, it's every bit a Chicago restaurant.

Well, then I guess I'm out of the Loop

I probably should not have even referenced the Frontera Grill, but simply said..."when we're going through Chicago...

Honestly, you can get Mexican almost everywhere (but I will look into this place on our next trip), but Italian beef sandwiches are one-of-a-kind.
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