I was nervous about two things when I woke up on New Year’s Eve.
1) Would we in fact get QSuites on our flight from Chicago to Doha? Qatar Airways had been swapping out the 777 for a non-QSuites aircraft about every three days or so in the weeks leading up to our trip.
2) Would any weather issues impact our AA flight to Chicago from Atlanta or our older daughter’s flight to Chicago from Boston? Just a week earlier, there was a huge meltdown over Christmas thanks to sub-zero temperatures across much of the Midwest.
As it turned out, the answers were YES (QSuites inbound to Chicago!) and NO (weather above freezing and not too bad across the Northeast, South and Midwest).
How did I know the inbound aircraft was a QSuites 777? I checked the FlightRadar24 app for the tail number and cross-checked with Flyertalk Qatar Airways forum to make sure it was a QSuites aircraft. As there’s only one flight per day to Chicago, it had to be the same plane for the return trip to Doha.
I ordered an Uber to the airport around 8:30am for myself, my wife and our younger daughter (a bargain at $42!) I had insisted everyone pack carry-on only for the outbound trip as the two planned connections (one long and one short) plus notoriously bad baggage handling in Chicago (more to come on this in the next segment) caused me to worry about lost luggage impacting the trip. It wasn’t too hard for the three of us and our smaller bags to fit in a regular Uber.
We got to Atlanta airport around 9:15am and checked in with American Airlines. The agents checked our passports, visas and vaccine cards (even though my older daughter in Boston said they only checked her passport and vaccine card, which was lucky as I was holding her visa). We were given boarding passes all the way through to Nairobi, although I knew that we would have to get Qatar Airways-issued boarding passes in Chicago for those segments.
There was no wait at Clear/Pre-Check at that hour on New Year’s Eve, and we headed to the Admirals Club in T Concourse. I had been there a couple of times when flying an international OneWorld business itinerary, but it was my wife and daughter’s first time. They were not impressed with the food offerings, but they were happy with the relative peace and quiet compared to the Sky Clubs.
I was told by the check-in agents that American does plan to consolidate operations at Concourse T (now that some new gates have been constructed) so that our trek from T to D will be avoided in the future. Around 10:45am, we headed over to the D Concourse for our E175 flight to Chicago.
Scheduled: 11:40-12:50 (-1 hour)
Actual: 11:55-12:48 (-1 hour)
Our inbound aircraft arrived a bit late, but they turned the aircraft around pretty quickly. I think they boarded in about eight minutes from start to finish. It helps when there’s only 75 or so seats. We had row 2 in First Class with my daughter in the best seat (2A) with aisle access and a window. We had no issues stowing our larger bags overhead.
The flight was a bit choppy on the climb out but smoothed out after about ½ hour. Drinks and snacks were offered. I had a Woodford and my wife had a mimosa. Meanwhile, my daughter’s flight from Boston was delayed due a bathroom light malfunction. She did eventually take off about ½ hour late so everyone was on their way!
The rest of the flight was uneventful and we landed on time at O’Hare. The plan was to meet our oldest at the Flagship Lounge for a few hours, then all head over to Terminal 5 in plenty of time to make our Qatar Airways flight. Our youngest decided to meet a friend in Chicago so when we arrived, she exited out at Terminal 3 to be picked up while my wife and I went to find the Flagship Lounge.
Up Next: AA Flagship Lounge Chicago
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