The first Chase Sapphire Lounge opens in Hong Kong

Back in June 2021, Chase announced The Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club, a network of airport lounges co-designed and branded in partnership with Airport Dimensions, a subsidiary of Collinson that is best known for “The Club” lounges throughout the US.

Sixteen months later, The Chase Sapphire Lounge has finally come to life—at Hong Kong airport, of all places.

The Chase Sapphire Lounge lands at HKG

Without much fanfare, the glass doors of The Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club swung open this morning at the still largely dormant Hong Kong International airport.

The club is located in Terminal 1, West Hall, near gate 40, on the mezzanine level, in the footprint of the former Plaza Premium Lounge, which has relocated to gate 35. Gate 40 is a quick train ride (or a much longer walk) from the security checkpoint. The Chase Sapphire Lounge is adjacent to the THAI Royal Orchid Lounge and The Emirates Lounge, and a quick hop from the United Club.

The bar at the Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club at Hong Kong airport (HKG)

Perched on level 7, the bright and airy club boasts commanding vistas of the tarmac as well as intimate views of the terminal’s dramatic roof. The modern design incorporates a lively color palette, architectural accents such as tainted glass, and an intricate mix of straight and curved lines. The sculpted reception desk might be a nod to the “Sapphire” brand.

Spreading over close to 12,000 square feet (1,100 square meters), the Chase Sapphire Lounge features a variety of spaces for work and relaxation outfitted with a mix of couches, high-top seating, solo chairs, and dining tables and booths. The aesthetics are eye-pleasing and modern while retaining traditional components such as indoor plants and earth tones.

Dining area at the Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club at Hong Kong airport (HKG)

Conceived in the COVID era, the Chase Sapphire Lounge by the Club at Hong Kong airport was designed to minimize touch points. Checking-in is an all-contactless affair, and ordering food and beverages and media and entertainment is digital.

Amenities at The Chase Sapphire Lounge Hong Kong

The culinary offerings include a selection of small plates, salads, soups, sandwiches, and wraps, as well as hot entrees and desserts, with a focus on local specialties. Highlights of the menu include a black fungi salad, wonton noodle soup, Hong Kong-style char siu pork rice, as well as traditional Hong Kong egg tarts. Patrons will also find a modest wine selection, as well as a choice of liquor, and spirits, and cocktails. All food and beverages are complimentary.

Naturally, the lounge offers Wi-Fi and power outlets aplenty. Notably absent from the line-up of amenities, however, are showers—an unfortunate oversight considering that Hong Kong airport serves global destinations and that The Sapphire Lounge targets primarily an American clientele that is about to embark on a 10+ hour flight.

Who has access to the Chase Sapphire Lounge?

The Chase Sapphire Lounge welcomes Priority Pass and LoungeKey members. Customers can bring up to two guests each, and are welcome to visit the club regardless of airline, destination, or class of service.

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers can use the complimentary Priority Pass membership that is an existing benefit on the Sapphire Reserve card—the credit card alone won’t be accepted. (Note that Chase Sapphire Preferred credit cards and Chase Sapphire checking accounts do not include Priority Pass a benefit.)

To find out what lounges you have access to during your travels, check out our Lounge Access Wizard.

Reception area at the Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club at Hong Kong airport (HKG)

Airport Dimensions, the company that operates The Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club on behalf of Chase, is a subsidiary of Collinson, the owner of Priority Pass. It’s therefore only natural that Priority Pass members would have access, though it makes for an interesting twist: the doors of Chase lounges are wide open to customers who carry the American Express Platinum or Capital One Venture X cards, which both come bundle with a Priority Pass membership and happen to be issued by Chase’s top competitors.

Chase’s odd foray into the airport lounge market

The Chase Sapphire Lounge access policy is just one of the many oddities in Chase’s approach to their airport lounge product.

Chase announced The Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club network back in June 2021, on the heels of a flurry of acquisitions in the travel and loyalty industries. At the time, American Express was already a firmly-established and widely-successful player in the airport lounge arena, and Capital One was just about to launch of the first Capital One Lounge at Dallas Ft. Worth airport.

Perhaps in an attempt to steal the spotlight, Chase issued a series of vague press releases, with scant details on the product and timeline. Until this morning’s launch in Hong Kong, the Sapphire Lounge was basically vaporware, and the Hong Kong launch came virtually unannounced. The timeline for the opening of US lounges is still up in the air and appears to have been pushed back to 2023.

The choice of Hong Kong as the launch location is somewhat puzzling. Not only is the Sapphire brand only relevant to US customers, but Hong Kong has been decimated by COVID and local politics, so travel through the former global hub is at an all-time low. In fact, most lounges at HKG are still shuttered, including, incidentally, the Centurion Lounge by American Express a few doors down.

© American Express
Serene and exclusive: the Centurion dining room at the American Express Centurion Lounge at Hong Kong airport (HKG)

When lounges do re-open eventually, Chase will face stiff competition. Hong Kong is a premium market, and the airport sports some of the world’s finest airline lounges. With complimentary foot massages at the Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class lounge, superb cabanas at The Wing, a bespoke décor at Hong Kong Airlines Club Autus, and an elegant, private dining room for Centurion card holders at The Centurion Lounge, it’s an embarrassment of riches.

The Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club at HKG is a good-looking lounge, but it lacks essential amenities like showers. Where does Chase’s product fit in this market? If anything, it plugs a key gap—until today, Hong Kong did not have any lounge for Priority Pass members. But the Sapphire Lounge will be the least exclusive club, and is bound to be crowded. Ultimately, luxury and Priority Pass don’t rhyme: Priority Pass has become a mass product.

Even the less flashy lounges at Hong Kong airport, such as the United Club, have showers.

Another odd aspect of Chase’s strategy is the financial institution’s choice to associate their up-market Sapphire brand with the low-key The Club brand.

It makes sense for Chase to team up with an established airport lounge operator, rather than bringing design and operations in house. The choice of Airport Dimensions is logical: the bank has a long-standing relationship with Collinson as one of the largest Priority Pass issuers, and Airport Dimensions has the know-how and expertise that Chase is seeking. Airport Dimensions has a complete lounge portfolio including the boutique Ambaar brand in Brazil, and No.1 lounges’ Clubrooms, an oasis of service and tranquility in the UK. But Chase has picked The Club, Airport Dimension’s most basic product.

The Club lounges are run-of-the mill operations that deliver a mostly unpolished experience and don’t have a true visual identity. Airport Dimensions typically acquires existing spaces and hastily rebrands them as cost-effectively as possible, as they recently did in Seattle. There’s nothing aspirational about The Club—it’s a place to sit and grab a coffee while checking email—a far cry from the Sapphire lifestyle brand.

Not the epitome of luxury: The Club SEA by Airport Dimensions at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)

Where will future Chase Sapphire Lounges be located?

While Chase has not announced a firm timeline for the opening of The Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club locations in the US, the financial institution is planning on rolling out six clubs in 2023:

  • Boston, MA (BOS), in the Connector between Terminals and C (12,000 square feet).
  • Las Vegas, NV (LAS), in Terminal C (4,500 square feet).
  • New York-LaGuardia (LGA), in Terminal B.
  • Phoenix, AZ (PHX), in Terminal 4 South (3,500 square feet).
  • San Diego, CA (SAN), in Terminal 2 West (1,000 square feet).
  • Washington, DC Dulles (IAD), in Terminal A (5,200 square feet).

Besides the location and the approximate dimension of the upcoming spaces, details are scarce and it’s unclear whether the Hong Kong location will serve as blueprint for future lounges.

Bottom line

The first-ever The Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club location is now open at Hong Kong airport. The lounge features hot meals, expansive views, and comfortable seating, but lacks high-end amenities such as showers.

The club is open to all Priority Pass members, including those who obtained a Priority Pass membership through American Express and Capital One. It is the first lounge for Priority Pass members at HKG.

So far, Chase’s foray into the airport lounge market has been a head-scratcher. It will be 2+ years since Chase’s announcement before lounges materialize in the US, and their partnership with “The Club” leaves us wanting. At this point it’s difficult to understand the positioning, appeal, or even benefits of the Chase lounge brand.

Brand positioning aside, it’s difficult to overstate Chase’s contributions to the democratization of miles and points and their outsized impact on the travel industry. Chase’s credit card portfolio is incredibly diverse and well-rounded, and their premium cards are some of the best in the industry. Let’s hope that Chase surprises us with their upcoming airport lounges in the US!

Correction: the original version of our story implied that Chase Sapphire Reserve card members could visit the lounge simply by showing their credit card. That’s incorrect. Guests can access the lounge with a Priority Pass or Lounge Key membership, by showing their physical or digital card on entrance. Sapphire Reserve cardmembers can use the complimentary Priority Pass membership that is an existing benefit on the Sapphire Reserve card.

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