Review: Escape Lounge Minneapolis MSP

Filed Under: American Express, Business Travel
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It’s no secret that The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express offer the one of the best airport lounge benefits of any card in the market.

Between Priority Pass, Centurion Lounges and Delta SkyClubs, there’s no shortage of options for both domestic and international itineraries. But one of the card’s best options – and one of the unsung heroes, in my opinion – is the ever-expanding portfolio of Escape Lounges.

I’m based out of Hartford’s BDL and I fly Delta to the West Coast through Minneapolis all the time, so if I’m not their target customer, I don’t know who is. Needless to say, I’ve gotten to know these two locations fairly well as of late.

And, as fun as it would be to write a review of BDL’s Escape Lounge for all five of you who are based out of Hartford, I figured that a review of MSP’s lounge would be more useful. 😉

Who can access Escape Lounges?

While the U.K.-based Escape Lounges are available to Priority Pass members, they’ve made it abundantly clear on their website that complimentary access to their U.S.-based lounges is limited to American Express Platinum cardholders.

Yes, this invitation does extend to those who have the card’s fraternal twin, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, which is how I gain access (and costs me $100/year less).

That said, they’ve definitely embraced the model of selling day passes, even offering the option to pre-book on their website. The U.S.-based lounges all sell day passes for $40 in advance, or $45 if you walk in, while the U.K.-based lounges retail for 21-25 GBP for advanced registration, or 30 GBP for walk-ins. (If you’re not interested in typing that into a currency converter, the U.K. lounges cost a touch less, although that’s largely dependent on exchange rates).

I’m going to go ahead and say that I would have a hard time justifying the cost of the day pass, but the added benefit for Amex Platinum cardholders is great.


MSP’s Escape Lounge is located in the Delta-dominated Terminal 1-Lindbergh, on the mezzanine level of the main concourse right by the entrance to the E-gates.

Image courtesy of MSP’s website

Incidentally, it’s located right next to the PGA MSP Priority Pass Lounge, which I’ll be sure to check out if my golf game ever gets off the ground (but don’t hold your breath).

The mezzanine level sees relatively little traffic when compared to the rest of the airport, and if my first visit was any indication, I think a lot of people walk right past it and don’t even realize that it’s there.


My first impression during my first visit to MSP’s Escape Lounge was just how quiet it was. I had to wait 2-3 minutes for the server/bartender/custodial staff/attendant – and yes, she was doing all of these jobs – just to come to the desk.

I was required to show my American Express card, my boarding pass, and my I.D., which is standard for Escape Lounges.

It really was no problem that there were only two employees working the lounge, since it was as empty as I’ve ever seen any airport lounge, ever. I snapped a few pictures of some of the various seating:

Before checking out the food.

Escape Lounge Food

Escape Lounges tout their food as both “the best in fresh food” and “the best in contemporary cuisine.”

While the marketing team may be a little more into hyperbolization than they are in variety of phrasing, I do have to give credit that the food may be “among the best in domestic airline lounges.”

I’ve typically been really happy with the food at BDL’s Escape Lounge, and MSP’s menu proved no different. Their menu changes often, but their model is to provide food in single-serve dishes, such as these cantonese meatballs and vegetable lentil curry served in cast-iron pots:

And these single-serve kale salads:

While I personally love this setup – there’s no drops of ranch dressing on the carrots, or stray corn kernels in the quinoa – the portions are a bit small.

I’m told that I have an appetite that ranges somewhere between “bird” and “day after Thanksgiving,” so I may not be the best benchmark in terms of how filling a dish is, but I could imagine that if you’re looking for a meal meal, it may be inconvenient to pick up five single-serve kale salads.

In any event, they also have more informal options, like cheese plates:

While somewhat picked over, this setup is a bit more sophisticated than the cheese cubes at the SkyClub down the hall.

…and a charcuterie board:

I don’t eat much meat, but even this pescatarian is impressed.

…as well as some less-healthy looking pastry options behind the charcuterie board.

There were also some whole fruit options including…a single, unpeeled mango, in case someone was able to get their Swiss Army Knife past TSA?

The other side of the check-in area is home to a coffee station:

as well as a well-hidden dessert station, with some pretty tasty cherry pies:

I’ll be honest – while I’ve been really happy with the Escape Lounge food, the coffee is an area that seems to be lacking, both at the MSP and the BDL locations. I tend to gravitate toward lattes whenever I’m in a lounge, and while I don’t expect my self-serve drinks to win any barista competitions, they’ve always tasted vaguely…medicinal to me.

It’s never been so bad that I haven’t gone back for more, and I haven’t gone so far as to regret my drink choices later, but it’s an area that could probably be improved in an otherwise-strong menu, and certainly one where MSP’s SkyClubs win.

Escape Lounge Bar

The bar setup looked like it would be fairly conducive to socializing – if there were people to socialize with.

Like many U.S.-based lounges, the typical array well drinks, house wine, and beers that I probably wouldn’t order plus one microbrew, are all complimentary. Top(ish) shelf spirits and premium wines and beers can also be purchased.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have any copies of the menu available, so I wasn’t able to snap any pictures, and I really didn’t want to bother the staff for one. Escape Lounges do a pretty good job of publishing their menus online, so you can check that out here.

Beers range from $4-$6 a bottle, while wines range from $10-$15 a glass. Spirits can be purchased at $6-$8 a shot.

Escape Lounge Restrooms

This is probably the area where the lounge is most sorely lacking. While there are restrooms located nearby, you have to leave the lounge to use them, and reenter through the front. It’s not a huge deal as the staff are used to it, but it certainly detracts from the “premium” experience.

Anyway, here they are. I debated taking pictures of the inside, but decided against it, although I promise there is nothing in there that you haven’t seen before.

In related news, if you’re looking for MSP’s least crowded restrooms and don’t mind a bit of a walk, then boy, do I have a solution for you.

Escape Lounge Wifi

While I don’t have much to show for it in terms of pictures, the Wi-Fi was lickety-split and Netflix-approved. It does require a password, which is posted around the lounge.

Overall impressions

The lack of crowds alone made this visit memorable, and while I know that the holiday weekend made a big difference, I’ve been back on several occasions and the experience has been consistent. The employees that I’ve talked to have all indicated that it does get busier at certain times, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than a dozen people there.

Aside from the satellite restrooms, the biggest issue was just the lack of staff. It wasn’t so much that I minded waiting five minutes for a drink at the bar, considering I basically had the run of the place, but I just felt badly for them. They seemed to be scrambling a ton, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard the phrase “I’m so sorry for the wait” so many times in a single sitting, let alone at an airport lounge.

The couple who packed half a dozen sodas in their carry-on didn’t seem to mind the lack of staff, though.

Bottom line

You’re not going to find massage chairs, nap rooms, or day spas here. And frankly, that’s okay – because they really get the basics right. With solid food options, minimal crowds and lightning-fast Wi-Fi, there’s little to argue with here. The day pass might be a bit of a tough sell – MSP has plenty of solid dining options and they already offer free Wi-Fi – but frankly, I think this is a no-brainer for American Express Platinum Cardholders already passing through.

As a matter of fact, given the overall lack of crowds that I’ve experienced, I would even go so far as to say that I prefer the Escape Lounges over the Centurion Lounges.

So while I’ll probably beeline to the C-Gate SkyClubs if I find myself flying out of Siberia the A-Concourse, I absolutely won’t hesitate to come back if I find myself with the time.

Have you spent much time at MSP’s Escape Lounge, or any of the others? What are your thoughts?

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  1. I’ll probably never fly through MSP, but I really enjoyed reading your review. Great sense of humour.

  2. I live in Minneapolis and can honestly attest to the fact that it’s Siberia only for about 5 months. At other times like May and September-October it can be downright lovely! But it’s getting crowded so please don’t move here!

  3. What’s the policy on guest access for Platinum card holders? When it was Priority Pass, I could bring up to two guests I think, but am not sure with the Plat card based access.

  4. Thank you for this review!

    Very helpful for this MSP based flyer, and also for anyone who connects through MSP, which is a lot of Delta flyers

    I’m especially happy to hear about those bathrooms.
    MSP bathrooms are some of the nicest ones in America
    But the people using them at peak times makes them not so pleasant

  5. Would love to see a review of the E/F MSP skyclub. It was renovated a few months ago and I can’t find any updated reviews online

  6. Great review of the MSP Escape lounge. I’ve heard good things about it, but most DL flights to the west coast for me don’t seem to route through MSP, so I probably won’t have a chance to go there myself.

    Their complimentary spirits list seems fairly good to me but their paid wine prices are absurd – AA’s complimentary well drinks in the AC are about 17 steps below their listing!

  7. I also live in Mpls and can attest this is the most underrated city in the US. Winter is bad but you get used to it. Summer is amazing. The airport is fantastic and I can’t think of a faster place to clear immigration when flying from abroad. But as Gregg said above please do not move here. It is lovely the way it is. 🙂 As for the Escape lounge it is a great option if you need a quiet place. I often use it when flying with family since I won’t pay for my kids to access the Delta lounge as it is not worth the money.

  8. I’m based in bdl too, and love the escape lounge. I’ll schedule trips around lunch so I can stop in and have the tomato soup on with grilled cheese croutons.

  9. As one of the 5 readers based out of Hartford, I can attest that the Escape at BDL is excellent — great small tastes including a pesto salmon that’s served in individual cast iron ramikens. Typically fairly busy when I’ve visited but always a free chair and table. Plus restrooms in the lounge itself.

  10. The food can be hit and miss, especially if the staff are too overworked to refresh the spread in a timely manner. I think Escape’s generally superior to the F/G SC for breakfast (hellooo salmon egg bake) but not necessarily for lunch/dinner since the SC refresh.

    Also, pro tip, the PP credit’s also good downstairs from the PGA Lounge at Ike’s restaurant. Just have the PGA attendant run the card, print the voucher, and bring it down to Ike’s. You can even order a meal to go.

  11. My wife, son and I recently had a long layover at MSP. The airport was a madhouse that evening- I had no idea that airport was so large or crowded. We first checked into a Skylounge which was as crowded and calamitous as the rest of the airport. No way was I going to pay an extra $28 or $56 (not sure whether they’d charge for a 2yr old) for that.

    So we decided to use the Escape lounge – whose name sounds kind of funny now with the prevelance of ‘escape rooms’ these days. 🙂

    The lounge was beautiful, peaceful and quiet. We enjoyed the huge booths for dining, and the food/bev was top notch for a US lounge. I’m guessing that it’s ‘under use’ is due partly to its location, must mainly because you access it only through Amex Plat – not PP which is held by everyone.

    The furnishings were high quality, and it was a pleasure to kill a few hours there. Unfortunately it closes at 9pm which meant we still had a couple more hours to burn until our (delayed) flight. Not a huge problem there as MSP boasts an awesome kids’ area and many excellent dining options throughout.

  12. I love the MSP Escape Lounge. I was disappointed when it dropped from the Priority Pass portfolio so I’m happy to use it via my AMEX Platinum Card. The staff are always super-friendly and I’ve always seen more than 2 there. The food offerings are always plentiful and regularly refreshed although on my last visit on July 27th the little pots of mac and cheese let the side down a bit.

    It’s only the slightest of inconveniences to find the restrooms on the adjacent corridor. One of my favourite lounges. Beats fighting for a seat at the DL lounge any day!

  13. I travel through Hartford probably half a dozen times or so per year being from the surrounding area. I love going loung hopping between the Escape and then the Admiral’s club, shocked in a way that we have two lounges there at Bradley Field. Being a Dallas-based AA-flyer, I love BDL’s direct flights (granted it is now 2x a day vs. 3x a day since the USAir merger) to Dallas even if they cost a lot of money, Boston is a sh__show compared to BDL, especially the rental car buses there. I have also visited the MSP lounge a few times after switching loyalty from DL->AA and not being able to use Amex Platinum to go into sky clubs nor Diamond membership at DL.

    – The MSP escape lounge used to give you an access card that you could use to re-enter via that door you’ve pictured close to the bathroom. I guess that’s changed?
    – The MSP lounge was busy on Thursday evenings when I would travel to MSP, nothing crazy like the DFW Centurion but it was lively to say the least.

  14. @ Three out of the five BDL flyers – Nice to find you on here, and challenge accepted (eventually)!

    I would say that @ymx’s review is spot-on. The only thing I would add is that the staff is incredibly enthusiastic, perhaps bordering on overly attentive at times, but generally refreshingly nice.

    Anyway, come say hello if you ever see me there, and if the lounge is closed I’ll buy you a drink at Two Roads (or Dunkin’ Donuts, if it’s pre-6 AM).

  15. I visited this lounge about a year ago and paid nothing for bottled beer or wine. Has this recently changed? They had a small self-serve refrigerator near the bar on each end with beer and soft drink choices.

    The food setup was significantly different back then too – more of a buffet-style setup, but with basically the same food choices.

    Agree that it was very quiet, probably because it is at an odd spot in the airport. It’s a nice spot to relax if you are tired of the SkyClubs.

  16. So I guess this begs the question, if the lounge is always this empty, why are they dissing Priority Pass?

  17. I’m based out of OMA so I fly through MSP quite a bit. The Escape lounge is hands down the best lounge at MSP. Like Steph said, it’s quite, hardly every crowded, and has the best food and drink selection. Great review!

  18. I was bummed by the lounge. Cafeteria quality food, really unknowledgable bartenders (i don’t totally blame them, like the rest of MSP it’s staffed by East African immigrants who don’t grow up with the array of drinks Americans are accustomed to, and requesting anything more complicated than a gin and tonic was beyond them). The decor was decidedly not chic and had a strong whiff of 2004 modern design style. Delta’s sky clubs (about to visit the msp location) were much better

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