Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always wondered what goes on in the private airline lounges. Up until yesterday, I could only picture the version I’d seen in the movies (Up in the Air) or television (Mad Men). When I opened a United credit card (50K bonus miles and no foreign transaction fees), it came with two free one-day passes to the United Club. On my way back from Turin, I had two spare hours in Chicago — after clearing customs (love my Global Entry card), rechecking my bag, and going through security — which seemed like the perfect amount of time to check it out.

Through the frosted, glass doors lies a giant airline living room full of a variety of seating to suit any mood — leather chair? upholstered chair? desk w/chair? barstool? — along with free wifi, snacks, drinks, magazine/newspapers and a private set of bathrooms. Probably the best part though, it being Chicago O’Hare, is that there were probably two available outlets per person, which if you’ve ever hunted for an outlet in this airport in particular (even the vacuum cleaner outlets are locked when not in use), you know how rare that seems.
With the timezone change, my body was unsure of what meal it was supposed to be on so the available snacks took the hunger edge off. I was a little sad to have to pass up the free beer/wine but I figured my jet-lagged body couldn’t handle that and allow me to make my flight back to Kansas City. The rest of the people looked pretty normal – no celebrity sightings or high powered meetings going on. It was relatively quiet, clean and made for a pleasant way to pass the time. I’m looking forward to using my second free pass in the near future.

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