While a swanky airport lounge can’t alleviate Los Angeles International Airport’s infamous curbside gridlock, it can make it become a more distant memory.

The latest predeparture sanctuary that will land at LAX? It’s from a company best known for its bank branches. Chase announced on Thursday it will open a 9,234-square-foot Sapphire Lounge at Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT), near Gate 148. An opening date was not shared.

Dana Pouwels, head of airport lounge benefits and strategic partnerships for Chase, said the company is investing in meeting its customers where they are.

“Los Angeles is home to many cardmembers and a popular destination among Chase travelers,” Pouwels said. “And as a native Angeleno who frequently travels through LAX to visit home, I’m excited to bring a Chase Sapphire Lounge to my home city.”

Based on renderings, the premium Chase space will feature expansive tarmac views — a first for a lounge in TBIT’s main concourse — along with a dramatic waterfall-style chandelier above a granite and wood bar. While Chase was mum on proposed amenities, if it’s anything like the company’s other lounges now at five airports, expect it to skew higher-end.

A rendering of the seating area in the new lounge.

(Chase)

The first U.S. Sapphire Lounge for Chase debuted in Boston one year ago. Features include a gourmet buffet and à la carte dining (their Sapphire burger is a particular standout); dedicated wellness and shower rooms; and a residential-inspired design meant for both work and leisure. Meanwhile, the LaGuardia Airport location in New York that opened earlier this year even offers complimentary facials and ultra-high-end private suites (for a hefty additional fee).

Pouwels said the “space will pay homage to Los Angeles while embodying local modern elements that celebrate the culture of the city.”

To get unlimited access to Chase Sapphire Lounges in the U.S., travelers must be enrolled in the $550-per-year Chase Sapphire Reserve with Priority Pass membership. Those with a Priority Pass membership from another premium travel credit card (such as an Amex Platinum or Capital One Venture X) can enter a U.S. Sapphire Lounge once each calendar year at no cost.

Currently, there are no Priority Pass-accessible lounges at LAX, so Chase’s lounge will be a boon to a wide range of travelers once open.

The airport lounge wars continue

Lounge competition is fierce, especially among the major credit card companies. Access has widened dramatically in recent years as issuers push for premium card sign-ups and build out their own branded spaces. While that means more crowded lounges, it also means more options for travelers.

in 2013, American Express entered the business of owning and operating airport lounges with the Centurion network. More recently, Chase’s Sapphire portfolio and Capital One’s lounges are the answer to the incumbent.

At LAX, Amex opened its Centurion Lounge in 2020, just a few steps away from Chase’s future site. The nearly 14,000-square-foot area features a variety of luxe amenities, including a bespoke food menu from executive chef Nancy Silverton, a spa area with chair massages and mini-manicures, and shower suites.

Dave Jones, deputy executive director of commercial development at Los Angeles World Airports, says that lounges improve the travel experience, especially as the airport redevelops. “LAX looks forward to providing our guests with more lounge options based on their consumer preferences, as well as accommodating the growing demand for lounge access,” he said.

Other LAX lounges in the pipeline

Chase isn’t the only player set to open a new lounge at the airport. Air France will unveil its first-ever LAX lounge at TBIT on June 21.

A carrier spokesperson said L.A. is one of the “most important markets for Air France” and is part of a wider global investment in lounges. When it opens, the LAX location will become the sixth Air France lounge in the U.S., joining Washington-Dulles, Houston Intercontinental, San Francisco, New York JFK and Boston.

Meanwhile, over at Terminal 4, Delta Air Lines will open a high-end Delta One Lounge by the end of 2024. It will feature an outdoor terrace, over 10,000 square feet of space, and a seamless connection from an exclusive check-in area for Delta One passengers.

It’s part of the carrier’s strategy to offer a new “premium” tier of amenities for international business-class guests. “Premium lounge customers should feel welcomed and known when they walk in the door, just as they would at their favorite hotel or restaurant,” said Claude Roussel, vice president of Sky Club and lounge experience at Delta.

The first Delta One lounge will open in New York in late June.

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