Chase’s new Sapphire Terrace is now open in the Austin airport. It’s the bank’s first airport space in the U.S., though not officially a ‘Sapphire Lounge’. That’s because it’s unique, not a full lounge and mostly outdoor space. It’s also open to Sapphire Reserve cardmembers but not a part of Priority Pass.
The space has been really transformed compared to just a week ago when I looked in on it. You’ll find it upstairs near gates 1 and 2 on the East end of the Austin airport’s main terminal, right next to the Delta Sky Club. You can take an elevator or stairs up to the check-in area that leads to a small indoor space and a larger outdoor deck.
Access Rules And Hours
Chase Sapphire Reserve and J.P. Morgan Reserve cardmembers are entitled to access for themselves and two guests, up to three hours prior to the departure time on their boarding pass. No access is available on arrival.
Airport Dimensions (whose parent company also owns Priority Pass) partnered in this space, just as they do Chase’s Sapphire Lounges, but unlike those lounges the Sapphire Terrace is not open to Priority Pass customers.
The space is open 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. I’m told the reason for the late opening is that the East side of the airport where the terrace is located isn’t very busy in the mornings (for instance, international departures that leave from nearby gates cluster in the evenings, and the Sky Club next door isn’t busy in the mornings either).
However a spokesperson suggested that hours could be adjusted if they find that the terrace draws passengers from the center and West ends of the terminal.
I’m curious to see in practice how well enforce the 3 hour rule and 2 guest policy will be, at least in edge cases. Officially children under two do not count towards the guest limit. And a family of six could be accommodated with a primary cardmember getting their spouse or partner an authorized user card, to be sure.
Snacks And Beverages
The lounge is staffed by Sodexo, and offers non-alcoholic beverages as well as beer and wine, and packaged food (perfect for grab and go) from two vending machines.
The vending machines do not charge, and it’s ‘two items per order’ but you can place as many orders from the machines as you wish. No doubt some will cater their aircraft from the Sapphire Terrace.
Food options include salads, wraps, noodles, fruit, granola, as well as other items.
The Sapphire Terrace is mostly outdoors. Inside offers some modest seating, and is where the bar and food vending options are location, and is just 1,000 square feet.
The outdoor space is 4,000 square feet. When weather is nice the space overall will be able to accommodate guests easily – both because it is limited to Sapphire Reserve (and J.P. Morgan Reserve) cardmembers and because it’s geared towards short stays.
However there are no heaters or misters in the space, and it won’t be inviting during portions of winter months as well as during the oppressive heat of the summer.
Overall, though, as an Austin resident I find most of the year to be fantastic for outdoor dining, and – while opinions will vary – I expect to find the Sapphire Terrace inviting far more often than it isn’t.
Plenty of outside seating is available, much upgraded from when the space was an underutilized public terrace (very people people knew about this best kept secret at the airport). You’ll find shuffle board and cornhole here as well.
There is also a restroom available, accessible from the outdoor deck. It’s a large private room, and complimentary feminine products and diapers are available at the check-in stand.
Grab A Luggage Tag
Currently the Sapphire Terrace is currently offering visitors a Chase Sapphire luggage tag. There are supposed to be other giveaways this week as well.
The Future Of Chase At The Airport
I expect that the Sapphire Terrace, while not permanent, will be around for a few years. Over time we’re likely to see a full-fledged Sapphire Lounge here.
Currently there is an American Airlines, United, and Delta lounge, but no independent lounges. That’s almost certain to change.
American has announced that it is building a new club in different space, rather than expanding its current one. However it’s been 16 months and there’s been no progress. I expect that they will not build out in the current upstairs offices that they’d originally announced. Instead, I’ve bet that they are waiting for the ‘West Gate Expansion’ project which will add gates and lounge space at the end of the terminal, which is closer to where American actually operates. (This project won’t ultimately add net getes to the airport, since once it is complete Austin will lose gates to create a walkway to a planned midfield concourse.)
When American vacates its current club, that will leave the current club space and the one where American announced they’d build a new one (or, if I’m wrong, the club space in the West Gate expansion) available for new lounges.
With Chase already in the airport, I have to expect that one of the two open spaces will become a Chase Sapphire Lounge, with the other space becoming an American Express Centurion Studio (Escape) or a Capital One lounge, with dark horse contenders Plaza Premium Group and others perhaps interested in competing for the space. Prior to the pandemic the airport had actually recommended Escape as winner of a lounge request for proposals, but that got tied up with Airport Dimensions (The Club) disputing the award.