Traveling through an airport can be hectic, and savvy travelers know that access to an airport lounge can improve the experience. Many travelers are familiar with lounges affiliated with specific airlines and credit card issuers.
But a lesser-known collection of airport lounges, Escape Lounges, should be on every traveler’s radar. Unlike most other lounges, they’re open to anyone for a fee — regardless of which airline you’re flying.
Located in airports in secondary cities across the U.S., like Providence, Rhode Island, and Sacramento, California, and in several airports in the U.K., here’s what you need to know before visiting an Escape Lounge on your next flight.
What is an Escape Lounge and who can access them?
Airline lounges are open mainly to travelers flying that airline, but you can get into an Escape Lounge no matter what airline you’re flying.
Escape Lounges don’t sell memberships, but you can purchase an individual pass for access. The cost for a day pass in the U.S. is $45, although you can score a $5 discount if purchasing at least 24 hours in advance online at EscapeLounges.com. Escape Lounges also offer AAA and military discounts.
If you have The Platinum Card® from American Express or Centurion Card from American Express, you can get into an Escape Lounge for free. Members of the American Express Global Lounge Collection also get in for free. Entrance with these American Express credentials allows the cardholder to bring two guests free of charge, too.
All travelers must present a same-day boarding pass to enter. How long can you stay in an Escape Lounge? There’s no time limit, though hours vary by location. An Escape Lounge is a good value if you have a long connection.
How Escape Lounge access differs in the U.K.
In the U.K., Escape Lounge access is a bit different than in the U.S. For example, U.K. Escape Lounges are included for Priority Pass members (with no additional fee beyond your normal Priority Pass membership), whereas U.S.-based lounges are not included.
Like its U.S. lounges, Escape Lounges in the U.K. let you purchase a day pass (rates vary by lounge and day). But U.K. Escape Lounges will also let you in if you have a membership in a lounge program like Dragon Pass, Lounge Key, Lounge Club, Diners Club, Lounge Me and TAV Passports. Many airlines also provide lounge invitations for premium passengers.
Where you’ll find Escape Lounges
Bradley International Airport, Hartford, Connecticut
Near Gate 1, this lounge has large windows and complimentary drinks at the bar. Its hot and cold food menu was created by James Beard Award nominee and Top Chef contestant Tyler Anderson, who is from Connecticut. He uses local ingredients here and in his own restaurant, which focuses on New England fare.
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, Hebron, Kentucky
Close to Gate B21, the lounge offers free drinks, ample workspace and a menu curated by Alfio Gulisano, who is the executive chef and co-owner of three restaurants in Cincinnati.
Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Greer, South Carolina
Expect tasty fare along with an open bar at this lounge located in Concourse B near Gate 1. Chef Jason McCarthy was awarded Chef of the Year by the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association and learned his Southern cooking skills from his grandmothers.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Minneapolis
Minnesota chef J.D. Fratzke prepares the food menu for the Escape Lounge at MSP Airport. Located above the entrance to Concourse E in Terminal 1, this lounge offers convenient workspace, an open bar and tasty food. Fratzke is chef and director of culinary operations for several area restaurants and bars.
Oakland International Airport, Oakland, California
Across from Gate 9 in Terminal 1, this lounge delivers great workspace options, plus an open bar to enjoy before a flight. Ingredients on chef Chris Pastena’s menu often come from around the Bay Area.
Ontario International Airport, Ontario, California
The airport has two Escape Lounges. The Terminal 2 lounge is between Gates 209 and 210 while the Terminal 4 lounge is near Gate 410. Both lounges feature ample space to work and charge devices, an open bar and a menu from chef Henry Gonzalez of Spaggi’s restaurant.
Palm Beach International Airport, West Palm Beach, Florida
Offering great plane spotting from its large windows, this lounge is ideal for travelers departing from concourses A and B since it’s close to the entrance. Tasty dishes on the menu and an open bar will keep visitors busy before any flight.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix
Across from Gate B22 in Terminal 4, this lounge has lots of drinks and food to tantalize visitors — from red wine-braised short ribs to a veggie stir fry. It’s a great place to catch up on work while enjoying the open bar.
T.F. Green (Providence) Airport, Warwick, Rhode Island
Near Gate 18, visitors to this lounge will find plenty to eat and drink, plus charging ports at every seat and access to printing and scanning services.
Reno-Tahoe International Airport, Reno, Nevada
Chef Colin Smith of Roundabout Grill in downtown Reno handles the food menu at this lounge in the central corridor between concourses B and C. Thai shrimp salad and roasted chicken and succotash are among the dining choices here.
Sacramento International Airport, Sacramento, California
California’s capital city has two Escape Lounges, one in Terminal A near Gate A10 and in Terminal B just after the security checkpoint. Both lounges feature a menu from chef Michael Fagnoni, who is executive chef and co-owner of a couple of local restaurants.
East Midlands Airport, Derby
Opposite Gate 17, this lounge offers food, drinks and a place to work or socialize. This is the only lounge at the airport.
London Stansted Airport, Stansted
In the main departure lounge of the airport, this spot offers salad, pastas, pastries and its own freshly made focaccia bread.
Manchester Airport, London
The trio of Escape Lounges at Manchester’s airport are spread between terminals 1, 2 and 3. The Terminal 1 lounge is on the Executive Lounges level after security and duty-free. In Terminal 2, access to the lounge is opposite Gate 209. The Terminal 3 lounge is on the third floor next to the British Airways lounge.
Visiting an Escape Lounge this year
The Escape Lounge network is worth exploring as it covers several secondary cities that may otherwise not have an airline or Priority Pass-run lounge. If you don’t have credit card access, day passes are available. Escape Loungers offer a quiet place to relax or work with a snack or drink, which is always something to look forward to in your travels.
All information about Centurion® Card from American Express has been collected independently by NerdWallet. Centurion® Card from American Express is not available through NerdWallet.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for: