The Perfect Combo: My Extended Airport Restaurant Week

Some times things just line up like a solar eclipse or Christmas and Hanukkah on the same day. Today was one of those days where three unlikely things lined up:

  1. Had to pick some one up from the airport
  2. Checked in for a departing flight within 24 hours
  3. Free access to Terminal 5 for the annual Ticket to Taste event

With much thanks to my friend Dan for letting me know about Restaurant Week and the Chicago Department of Aviation opening up terminal 5 for curious epicurean adventure. I registered for it last week and got a conformation via email, it happened to fall right on the day I had to pick up my father in law to watch the kids when we fly off to our baby-moon the next day. Since I already checked in to my flight for tomorrow, I had an electronic boarding pass so I could technically use my Priority Pass Select Card at the two lounges of Swissport and Air France in terminal 5.

Above are the Lounge Buddy profiles on the two lounges that I have never gotten access to. This is because I always fly United Airlines out of Terminal one. As some of you know, ORD is a weird place that segregates some of it’s international carriers while others are stuck behind in the blah domestic terminals. This means no access to the two Priority Pass lounges for many of the domestic and international trips I take. If it wasn’t for the USO, occasional Delta Lounge, CAC entry to American Admirals, or my United Club Card, I would be waiting in line to be buying weak $5 coffee like a sucker.

Now I have ascribed to my new philosophy of becoming the datapoint I want to see. There has been no reports of success of using a domestic ticket to get into the lounges simply because you would never make it past terminal 5 security with a domestic ticket. This is how the third coincidence comes into play, I had that golden ticket for terminal 5 for the Event!

I checked in at the counter and received a badge and escort. Security was a bitch, because there was no pre-check and I had to take my shoes off and do the mili-wave scanner. I eventually got into terminal 5 which by far is the nicest and cleanest terminal at ORD. Low ceilings, but just kept really clean. Now this is when things get kind of silly. I had to wear my pass the whole time, and there was an EXTREME Chicago Police presence. The second I wandered off to the gate area, 4 to 5 police would yell at me to come back to the food court area. this happened on both ends of the terminal. When I found the lounges, I waltzed into the Swiss Air lounge with my boarding pass and Priority Pass in hand was was instantly DENIED!

NOT Swissport, Not for Priority Pass!

There was a CSP member at the Swiss Air lounge with his Priority Pass Select that was also denied entry for the same thing, we both had confused Swissport with Swiss Air! The front desk attendant was kind and directed us to the Swissport and the Air France down the hall. At Air France I showed my digital boarding pass (to ATL) and swiped my Priority Pass and helped myself to their massive drink selection:

Now I was told there was a 3 hour limit, she noticed I was only 20 hours early for my flight. I assured her I would be done in about 10 mins. I had a few snacks and left to go to the other lounge across the hall.

I tried the Swissport lounge and was told exactly the same thing about the max time. So either no one cared I had a domestic ticket, or they assumed ATL was for the lost city of Atlantis which was international (the digital boarding pass does not specify where ATL is). Reminiscent of the Futrarama episode on the same subject.

Now I went and checked out the show which was not bad. They had free food samples, cooking lessons, and discounts at most places at the food court. I even got some nice chocolates at a 15% off here:

I wish I had more time to watch the demos, but had to pick up my FIL in terminal 2. On the way out they gave me validated parking good for 24 hours, a spatula and an oven mitt. I even got a nice recipe book, and a story to write about! Can’t wait till next year, hope to see some of you Chicago Churners out there trying the extended Ticket to Taste!


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