Travel Tuesday: Understanding Chase’s New Sapphire Lounge
When Chase announced that it was opening a number of airport lounges in partnership with The Club, there were several questions I and others had. At the top of the list, with The Club being a staple of Priority Pass membership, it seemed fair to assume that those with Priority Pass — including those who gained it from a Chase competitor — would have access to these new lounges. Alas, with the first domestic Chase Sapphire Lounge opening today, we’re learning a lot more about how access to this and future clubs will work.
What is the Chase Sapphire Lounge and where is it?
Back in 2021, Chase announced that it was partnering with popular airport lounge brand The Club to create the aptly named Sapphire Lounge by The Club. After opening its first location in Hong Kong last year, The Sapphire Lounge by The Club network has made it stateside. On May 16th, 2023, the new location debuted at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS). Next up, Chase plans to open locations at Las Vegas’ Harry Reid International Airport (LAS), LaGuardia (LGA), Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), and San Diego International Airport (SAN).
What does this latest lounge location offer?
According to Chase, the 11,640 square foot Sapphire Lounge by The Club location at BOS “highlights the history and identity of Boston while bringing the vibrancy of the Sapphire Reserve customer to life.” In addition to offering locally inspired dining options (from a menu created by chef Douglass Williams), the lounge also includes a signature taproom with local craft beers as well as coffee from Atomic Coffee Roasters. Plus, going back to the food, both made-to-order and ready-to-eat options will be available.
Elsewhere, the location features two wellness rooms with everything from anti-gravity massage chairs to guided mediations from Devi Brown. There are also shower rooms available for those who need to further refresh.
Currently, the Boston location is open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
Who can access Chase Sapphire Lounges?
Now for the news. First, as one would probably expect, those with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card will enjoy complimentary access. Specifically, cardholders will need to also have a Priority Pass membership (which is included with the card) and will be able to bring up to two free guests on their visits. Additional guests will cost $27 each — although there’s no charge for children under two.
In addition to Sapphire Reserve customers, J.P. Morgan Reserve and The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card customers will also have complimentary access to Sapphire Lounges. Akin to the Sapphire Reserve, J.P. Morgan Reserve cardmembers with a Priority Pass will be able to bring two guests for free. However, those with The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card will be able to bring an unlimited number of guests in for no charge.
So what about other Priority Pass members? Well, the good news is that they won’t be entirely shut out. Instead, those who have Priority Pass but don’t have one of the eligible Chase cards will be able to enjoy complimentary access to a Chase Sapphire Lounge once per year. Note that this one-time pass is per lounge network, not per location (so choose wisely, I guess). After that, Priority Pass customers can visit but will have to pay an entry fee. According to the Priority Pass site, it looks as though this “preferential entry fee” will amount to $75 per person, per visit.
Is it worth it?
That depends. For those who already have the Chase Sapphire Reserve (or other eligible cards), the launch of the Sapphire Lounge network is a great thing. Meanwhile, for people like me who have a Priority Pass but not a Sapphire Reserve card, it’s hard to imagine that the $75 fee that will apply to visits after the initial one each year will be worth it.
At the same time, although I haven’t actually visited a The Club location myself (I once tried but the wait made it untenable), this does seem like a step up from their usual product. In fact, this does appear to be a decent competitor to Amex’s Centurion Lounge. If that does end up being the case, perhaps travelers will see fit to pick up the Sapphire Reserve card or even pay out of pocket for the experience.
One of the key reasons I ultimately choose to get the American Express Platinum card over the Chase Sapphire Reserve was because of the lounge access the former had. Now, even as Chase does roll out its own lounge product, I think they have a pretty long way to go before they catch up to Amex’s Centurion network. Because of this, I’m not regretting my choice nor am I any more tempted to get the Sapphire Reserve. That said, I do hope that I’ll have the chance to cash in my once-per-year freebie at some point as I’d be curious to check out one the locations. Perhaps that will lead me to change my tune… but I wouldn’t bet on it.