Update Noon Eastern: While Chase’s use of the space is confirmed the Austin airport offering will not be a permanent space or part of the lounge network. More to come!
Chase is building out a series of Sapphire lounges at airports in partnership with the company behind The Club and Priority Pass. They had talked up a total of 9 lounges last summer as part of their broader Chase Travel efforts, and the locations of those 9 lounges are now known: Boston; Dallas – Fort Worth; Las Vegas; New York LaGuardia; Philadelphia; Phoenix; San Diego; Washington Dulles; and Hong Kong (which is already open).
However it wouldn’t be surprising to see them opportunistically add additional lounges, especially in cities where there are strong concentrations on premium Chase credit card customers. And based on City of Austin permit records it appears that there are plans for a Chase Sapphire lounge at the Austin airport.
There have been some musical chairs happening with potential lounge space at the Austin airport. I’ve heard for some time that plans for the new American Airlines Admirals Club announced in fall 2021 are on hold, and the location of the club will be changing. The airport’s Terminal West Expansion and Infill may provide two new lounge location options, and these would be closer to the gates American operates out of.
That’s made me wonder about how the space that American was planning on going into would be used. Austin almost got an Escape lounge/Centurion Studio lounge but just before the pandemic the award of space blew up at the City Council.
- Airport Dimensions, which operates The Club (and is part of the UK’s Collinson Group which owns Priority Pass) disputed the award.
- They said their proposal had a higher Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program score, even though the question isn’t whose score is highest rather whether the awardee meets the required threshold
- They said Manchester Airport Group, which was being given the space, is a foreign company. Locally-owned is an impermissible decision-making criteria under federal rules, but it was still odd because even though Airport Dimensions is based in the U.S. it is owned by a.. foreign company.
Then the pandemic happened. And hope of a non-airline affiliated lounge seemed lost. Currently there are United, American, and Delta lounges but no independent lounges. And since the airline lounges all limit access to passengers actually flying on their carrier or its partners on the same day, there’s no lounge accessible to passengers of the largest airline at the airport, Southwest (or Spirit Airlines, for that matter).
Current access rules offer that Sapphire lounges are accessible to Sapphire Reserve cardmembers and Priority Pass cardholders. So premium American Express and Capital One customers should have access to this lounge as well, to the extent it comes to fruition. I’ve reached out to both Chase and the Austin airport for more information.