Details Of New Chase “Sapphire Experience” At Austin Airport, Opening Next Month

Three weeks ago I wrote about a permit filed for a “Chase Sapphire Lounge” at the Austin airport. The Austin airport confirmed that Chase would become a tenant, I learned that this would not be a permanent space or part of the lounge network.

Chase is building out a network of airport lounges with Collinson Group, which also runs Priority Pass. It’s a bit of a strange play, since to the extent Chase lounges are accessible via Priority Pass they become spaces that can be used by premium cardmembers of American Express and Capital One, too. Perhaps Chase likes their competitor customers visiting their branded lounges, but it still enhances the value of other bank products and not just their own.

The Austin space, though, appears to be different. Thrifty Traveler reported that a Chase spokesperson called it a “Sapphire Experience.”

There’s a bit of discussion about what it will become by an employee of the airport who reports speaking to the contractors.

Based on this report it appears that Chase is taking over the outdoor deck that had been open to all passengers next to the Delta Sky Club near gate 1 at the East end of the terminal – and could be finished as soon as next month!

It’s going to be extremely small. Probably less than 10 seats inside, and outdoor patio furniture for the outdoor deck. They’re taking over the free outdoor deck on the upper level near the Delta Sky Club. The outdoor seating will not have any protection from the elements. Due to open by March 10-15th.

…The city is not allowing them to modify the space, only to fit their items into it. The interior portion be very, very, small. Only patio furniture to set up outside. They’ve already removed all of the airports picnic tables and furniture and repotted new greenery.

Here’s the outdoor portion of the existing space that Chase is reportedly taking over:

And here’s the approach to the space, from when the restaurant on the ground floor was still under construction. The indoor-outdoor space is on the second level:

I mentioned weeks ago that this wouldn’t be a permanent solution. It’s reported to be “a two year ‘pop up’ lounge.” Food is “most likely pre-packed grab and go.” and “[w]ord on the street is that it’s a high end local taco spot that will be serving food.”

More space for a full lounge should be opening up in the next couple of years. American Airlines announced they’d be opening a new club near gate 14. However I’m not sure it will be located there.

I’ve guessed they would actually build out in the new West Gate Expansion area being built at the airport, which is also closer to the gates at which American operates. But there will be new lounge space there, the gate 14 space, and the space American ultimately vacates meaning three lounge spaces at least for American and two other lounges.

As an existing tenant in the airport it seems Chase would have an inside track on one of those spaces, and there would still be another space for American Express or Plaza Premium.

In the meantime we’re very close to having a new Chase option in the Austin airport – and passengers no longer have access to this free outdoor deck which was, admittedly, underutilized. I’ve written about it as a ‘secret space’ that almost no one knew was there. No doubt it will see more use with free food and drink albeit for a subset of eligible customers.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Is the United Club staying in the same space next to the current American lounge, or is it also moving?

  2. Gary – I certainly don’t know anything to the contrary, but why would you assume that Priority Pass’ involvement means that it will be open to all members? We’ve seen with non-lounge “experiences” that AmEx and CapOne have not been willing to pony up to give their cardholders access. Wouldn’t it conceivably be possible that only Chase cardholders would have access?

  3. I’ve visited the area a couple of times. Even if the temperature is mild, the outdoor area isn’t very pleasant in the morning because of bright sunlight coming through the fence.

  4. Taking existing public outdoor space and closing it off for their personal use makes me less likely to use Chase products or recommend their cards.

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