TRIP REPORT: Indirect Travel Fun – Into the USA and The Crowne Plaza O’Hare – Economy Class & Beyond


Into the USA and The Crowne Plaza O’Hare
Indirect fun – To Chicago with America Airlines and Finnair

Well, almost.

I headed out of the aircraft (trying to get ahead of the majority of the passengers) and dived into the first toilet I could find.

Comfort is comfort – especially if you have to deal with US Immigration on landing. Holding things in is not what I would call a pleasant experience.

With some minor relief, I headed through the building site that is O’Hare Terminal 5.

Ah yes. I confuse “International Airport” for “building site” regularly. 

Eventually, I made it through to US Immigration, where fancy new booths with glass partitions had been installed.


Thankfully, there was only a switchback’s worth of passengers in the queue, so I was processed in around 10 minutes flat. There were the usual questions about why I was at the US Border.

With a thunk of the passport stamp, I was let in, along with an orange customs form. That’s new.

I proceeded to the belt and grabbed a trolly on the way. Thankfully, there was a short wait for my bags – it seemed that priority tagging worked that day.

With my bags reassembled, it was time to clear customs. I handed over my orange form and was let into the country.

That was mostly a painless experience  – and at 30 minutes for the entire process, not too long to hang around.

I found a spot near the taxi rank to hang around in. There were messages to send – that and it was a little early to head to the hotel.

That, and moving at those exact minutes was a… no go. I was decompressing from that seat.

Eventually, I mustered up the courage to deal with the Chicago Taxi Maffia – as Rideshare have to be hailed from the Central Terminal Area, as they attempt to turn O’Hare Terminal 5 into something of an international airport.

I’m sure they’ll do it when they raze the place to the ground and start again.

I found an unhappy Chicago taxi driver, who was annoyed they had another short journey. Thankfully, he was happy to take me to my lodgings for the night – The Crowne Plaza O’Hare.


Now, an editor’s intermission. There were two choices for hotels on this trip – with the Crowne Plaza coming in at £120ish, and the Avid Hotel (which I was impressed with), coming in at £80ish. 

But it then boils down to how much in Uber and Lyft fares I’m paying. Now we’re in Surburbia, buses are a lot less dense – especially when you’re half asleep and at least six time zones from home. I did some back-of-scrap paper calculations and worked out that I would be better off at the Crowne Plaza by the time I paid out all the extra fares I never wanted to.

Sometimes, you pay for convenience. It’s also a short walk away from the other hotel I would stay at, and by the time I added all the extra rides on Uber and Lyft… it just was easier. 

Crowne Plaza O’Hare

Admit it – you’ve missed the nighttime hotel photos, haven’t you?

I wheeled my bags in to be greeted by the reception staff. With my details confirmed and my passport checked, I was asked for a payment method.

With that confirmed, I was offered a welcome amenity of stuff from the fridge next to the reception, or 600 points.

600 points are 600 IHG points.

With all that done, I had keycards issued, and I was able to head up.

I was placed on a high floor in the hotel… sadly, not near the lifts (because I’m a lazy so and so with my luggage), but at the end of a corridor.


Thankfully, whilst I had a king room, I did have a corner king room, which looked out towards the Convention Centre, the Doubletree and Downtown.

Which was nice.

Looking at the room, if you’ve read one of my Chicago Trip reports, you’ll find more of the same here. The bed is a firm king bed – an always welcome sight.

An even more welcome sight was the removal of “we need 24 hours notice to service this room sign” from last time.

The sofa was in its usual place. Perfect enough to hold a video call or two on, whilst getting comfortable. And yes, I have fallen asleep on such things in the past.

In front of the sofa is the fridge as well as the coffee and tea-making facilities – with Keurig in front of me.

To the right, was a glass-topped table, with a reasonable-sized TV above it

In the bathroom, it was the usual affair, this time with the Dove amenities swapped out for Apotheke ones. It’s different, but still nice to see the individual amenities, compared to the bulk products you can find out there.

There is art. 

With my body decompressed a little, I had a five-mile list of things that needed to be done. And that means heading into the city of Chicago to get them done. Thankfully, a Lyft or an Uber to do this is never far away.

Returning to the hotel later that night, I cheated – rather than taking an Uber, or the shuttle bus from O’Hare, I took the Rosemont Entertainment Circular to get me near the hotel. It was a choice of that, or facing a lovely walk in some oddly lit areas in Rosemont. So, using the circular is a decent cheat.

Hopping off at the Fashion Outlet Mall and walking across a theatre parking lot, I made it back into the hotel and to the bed.

Exhaustion can get to you, especially when you’ve been on minimal sleep and jetlag.

Waking up early, I got myself semi-ready, and awake. Well, I put clothes on to look human. That was a start.

With me looking semi-human, I headed downstairs. The rate I had included breakfast in the “On the Fly” facility in the hotel.

Last time, it was a disappointing tray breakfast. This time, it was a more classic “Buffet Breakfast”.

My breakfast voucher was taken, and I headed to get a mug of coffee first. Because even I need something resembling black bean juice to wake me up these days.

From there it was onto the items.

There were pancakes, what the USA calls bacon, Chicken Mayple sausages, potato tots and scrambled eggs as the main hot items. There was also porridge.

There was a cold items bar too for those who preferred cold items, along with cereals. Finally, a toaster was there for those who like to apply heat to bread.

Not the most comprehensive list of items, but compared to the last trip – a hell of an upgrade.

The items were warm and had flavour – even if the chicken maple sausage managed to combine three things that didn’t need combining in the world.

As for the coffee… It was brown and drinkable. Important things when I’m trying to catch up with my multiple worlds.

The corner room had its uses, as it faced the arrivals path for some aircraft. I managed to get a few passable pictures from the hotel window.

And yes, that did mean logging on to the work service desk to manage calls. There’s nothing like managing my workload when on leave – when no other person will.

I flitted between different forms of work when I got back to the room, dotting i’s, crossing t’s and ensuring I was ready for the next few days – and what else I would need to get down the route.

Eventually, Scooby-Doo and Who was on the television (one day they’ll run out of Scooby-Do variations – but I doubt today is that day), and the clock was edging past 11 a.m.

It was time to head out.

I headed downstairs with my trash and checked out. With a confirmation that the charges were settled, I was on my way.


Again, The Crowne Plaza O’Hare was more than passable for a one-night stop – although I’ve got to admit, even with the longer walk to the room, the views were excellent (compared to normal). It’s also great to buffet breakfast dining returning to the property after a long and unwelcome break (the foil container last trip was in the “what the hell” level of service).

There are a few signs this hotel is coming out of slumber, and slowly returning to being a good property.

As always, one step at a time.

Next: Stroads. And the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. 

Welcome to Economy Class and Beyond. Your no-nonsense guide to network news, honest reviews, in-depth coverage, unique research, as well as the humour and madness I only know how to deliver.

Our Social Media pool has expanded. You can find us across most networks as @economybeyond on Twitter, MastodonBlueSky,  Threads and Instagram!

Also, remember that we are part of the BoardingArea community, bringing you the latest frequent flyer news from around the world.

Share post:


More like this

Family of West Palm Beach chemist who OD’d on kratom sues smoke shop for his death

Patrick George, a 41-year-old Navy veteran, was found dead...

Score no-brainer $150 NBA bonus for Knicks-Bucks, Suns-Lakers

Dive into the NBA's In-Season Tournament with a no-brainer...

NBA Best Bets Today – Free Picks for Tuesday’s In-Season Tournament Quarterfinals

This article is part of our NBA Picks series. For...

BetMGM Illinois Bonus Code BOOKIES: Get Up To $1500 Bonus For NFL & NBA Now

Illinois sports bettors should know that right now, BetMGM...