O’Hare’s new family lounge doesn’t require a membership

Sep 6, 2019

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If you and your family travel regularly through Chicago O’Hare (ORD), we’ve got good news: The new 1,800-square-foot Butch O’Hare Family Lounge is officially open.

Located in Terminal 2 just beyond security, the lounge offers a designated space for kids to play, with amenities such as toys, climbing structures, funhouse mirrors (that make for great family photo ops!) and even airport-themed video games developed by local DeVry University students. There’s colorful seating along with device charging stations and, for those traveling with an infant, there’s stroller parking, too. There are even plans to have live entertainment at various times throughout the year, especially during the holiday season.

“We are very pleased to provide a fun space for travelers to relax, or for kids to run off energy before or after a trip,” Jamie L. Rhee, commissioner at the Chicago Department of Aviation, told The Points Guy. “And its proximity to the Changing Places and family restrooms make it an area that’s accessible to all passengers traveling through O’Hare.”

With no membership requirement and no cost to enter, the space is ideal for families without lounge access — though you won’t find free food, drinks or spa treatments.

Related: The best credit cards for lounge access

O’Hare already made TPG’s list of the best airports for kids thanks to its aeroponic garden and kinetic light sculpture. With the addition of this family lounge, your kids will have yet another spot to let loose.

Being the mom of a 3.5-year-old myself, I love that airports are making deliberate moves to be more family-friendly. Sure, I may use an entire bottle of travel-sized hand sanitizer after leaving public play areas like these, but they’re well worth it — even for just a few minutes of (relative) peace.

And the reality is, many travelers have a hard time accessing most of the lounges in O’Hare’s domestic terminals unless they’re flying in a premium cabin or hold top-tier elite status, whether in search of a more formal lounge (the kind with complimentary snacks but zero funhouse mirrors) or a space like the Butch O’Hare Family Lounge.

There’s a Delta Sky Club lounge in Terminal 2, for example, but you’ll need to be flying Delta with a same-day boarding pass to enter if you’re using a qualifying Amex card for access, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express. Terminal 2 is also home to a United Club lounge, and American Airlines has a handful of lounges in Terminal 3, including Admirals Clubs and a Flagship Lounge.

O’Hare does have two Priority Pass lounges in the international Terminal 5 — the Air France/KLM Lounge and a Swissport Lounge. But T5 isn’t connected airside to any of the other terminals, so you’ll have to have an international boarding pass to clear security in order to visit either.

Featured image courtesy of the City of Chicago

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