The rubber blue chairs in the gate areas are a staple of the United Airlines terminal at Chicago O’Hare (ORD), almost as iconic as the neon-lit underground walkway separating the B gates from the C gates. But during a recent trip through I was pleasantly surprised to see the gate areas are undergoing a total refresh.
Refreshed United Airlines Gate Areas At Chicago O’Hare Invite Passengers To Stick Around
Those blue chairs carry many memories for me, some happy, some not so much. I love Chicago and so seeing these chairs means I’m in a city I love. But it also reminds me of the days of my youth, when I would spend nights in airports instead of in hotels to save money. The chairs themselves were not uncomfortable, but it was always a challenge to find a section of seats that did not have rigid metal armrests (which made slumber impossible).
And of course it was off these chairs that a pizza thief stole my beloved stuffed-crust pizza.
> Read More: I Set A Trap For The Chicago O’Hare Pizza Thief
But the fact that these chairs have been around for as long as I remember probably suggests they are getting past their prime. While United has experimented with charging ports and refreshed gate areas at Chicago O’Hare, I noticed a totally different look being unrolled in both the B Gate and C gate area during my recent trip…and I liked it.
The big difference between U.S. airports and European or Asian airports, in my mind, is that the latter wish to make you comfortable, not just encourage you to spend your money. Now that’s a bit simplistic, but case in point are the chairs in terminal concourses and gate areas. Yes, the U.S. has a homeless problem, but it’s not like vagrants can simply access the secure area of airports without a ticket. In so many major US airports, you see exclusively immovable armrests, which prevent people from sleeping in chairs.
While I understand you don’t want to encourage people to sleep in airports, sometimes people do face flight delays or cancellations in which having room to stretch out and charge your devices would be nice. United seems to have that in mind with its latest gate area design, which includes comfortable couches, more charging outlets, and even some chairs designed for lounging or sleeping.
Monitors have also been refreshed and new status screens installed at the entrance to gate areas. This all looks great and I know passengers will appreciate the extra comfort.
I snapped these pictures:
I do have two concerns. First, I’m not sure who thought up the placement of boarding zones, but prior to my flight to Los Angeles (gate B2) the zone was boarding was smack in the path of…a row of immovable chairs.
Second, will this furniture age well? Let’s hope these are very durable, because they will no doubt endure a lot of abuse.
United Airlines is refreshing its gate areas at Chicago O’Hare, adding couches and power outlets that make the space more practical and comfortable. Turning gate areas into hospitable zones helps to win loyalty too. Well-done, United.