The name of this blog is Regional First, due to the fact that many of my trips begin with a regional jet. That is less common in my travels than it used to be, but even for this trip with some pretty amazing products, the first leg of our big trip wasn’t exactly luxurious. It could have been worse since we nearly missed our bus. Thankfully, we just made it, and we took a bus from Milwaukee to O’Hare. Since we were flying out of O’Hare then back into Milwaukee, the one way bus connection just seemed easiest.
View of O’Hare on departure
The first flight on our trip was Virgin Atlantic from Chicago to London. While O’Hare has been my most frequent transit spot through the years, this was only my second departure from Terminal 5. Several years back I flew Cathay Pacific from T5, and used the Swiss lounge. Virgin uses the SAS lounge in T5. I had a few other lounge options via Priority Pass. Unfortunately I spent much of my layover on the phone with my corporate IT department dealing with access issues I was having. Not exactly how I wanted to relax before my flight, but I figured it was easier to do it then than trying to connect while on vacation.
I was getting pretty excited for this trip!
The SAS lounge is fine. I’ve been to SAS lounges in various places, and other than very large lounges in their hubs, they all are pretty similar both design and amenity wise. In this case, the lounge was very busy, so we were happy to find seats together. Food selection in the lounge was rather poor, but with multiple decent options in the terminal, my wife made a Tortas Frontera run before our flight while I was stuck on the phone. Similar to Matthew, I like to get my Mexican food fix before leaving North America.
Directly in front of the lounge is the Emirates departure getting catered by DO&CO. Then both Austrian and Lufthansa flights were on their way across the Atlantic. Side comment, as excited as I was to be flying Virgin Atlantic, since we were heading to Dubai, I was some jealous of those flying nonstop to Dubai on this plane, although only those in First Class.
Eventually, the lounge attendants announced boarding of our flight to London ,and we headed to the gate. Today, the Virgin Atlantic flight was all the way at the end of the terminal. Always good to walk before long haul flights.
This lounge was not particularly inspiring, especially compared with the amazing Virgin Clubhouse we would use at Heathrow. The difference was striking. In any case, we were on vacation, and I was excited to experience Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for the first time.
Below are the segments of our trip I am planning to report on.
SAS Lounge at O’Hare before Virgin Atlantic departure (this post)
Etihad First Apartment AUH-MEL
Park Hyatt Sydney
Cathay Pacific Business Class SYD-HKG
W Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class HKG-ORD