The Escape Lounge MSP opened its doors in Terminal 1 at Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) back in 2016, giving travelers another lounge option aside from regularly crowded Delta Sky Clubs and other cramped airline clubs.
And despite its fairly small size, it quickly became our favorite lounge at our home airport. Though small, it’s frequently empty or close to it. The food and drinks available (free, of course) are a step above what you can typically get at neighboring lounges.
Read on to see why we like the Escape Lounge MSP so much.
Getting into the Escape Lounge MSP
The lounge is located at the north end of the airport mall on the mezzanine level, perched above the bustling heart of Terminal 1. It’s just up the stairs (or a short elevator ride) from the entrance of Concourse E.
If you use the North Security Checkpoint at MSP, just head straight once you make it through security and head up the stairs, or take the elevator to level 3. Hang a quick left once you make it to the right level, and the glass doors of the Escape Lounge MSP will swing open for you.
The lounge is typically open from 4 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily.
For several years, the Escape Lounge MSP – and all Escape Lounges – were part of the Priority Pass lounge network. But that changed in 2017, as Escape Lounges left Priority Pass.
And that leaves the Platinum Card from American Express as the best way to get in – either the personal or small business version will get you in for free. Plus, you can also bring two additional guests for free, too. Additional guests will cost you $45 apiece – though children under 2 won’t count toward your guest count.
Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express.
Don’t have the right credit card? You can buy a daypass to the lounge for $45 – or $40 if you pre-book your visit on their website.
Lounge Space & Seating
At just 5,000 square feet, the Escape Lounge MSP is considerably smaller than the Delta Sky Club at the other end of the airport mall. But it doesn’t feel like it.
The space is laid out well, with plenty of different seating areas scattered across the lounge. Most importantly, it’s rarely busy: There’s far less foot traffic than the Sky Club, which is frequently overcrowded.
Head to the right after checking in at the front desk and you’ll find the main seating area, with plenty of chairs.
This area is one of my favorite spots in the lounge, with chairs and tables overlooking the tarmac below. The lounge frequently shuffles chairs and rearranges – you’ll often find high-backed chairs situated by the windows these days.
This is definitely the spot to hang out if you’ve got a few hours to kill before your flight. Below, you can see the flight departure board in the upper right to track your flight status while working or grabbing a bite to eat. You’ll find several of them scattered across the lounge.
You’ll find the food at the very center of the lounge, just left of the check-in desk. It’s a well-designed space.
Just past that, there’s a great café area to sit down and eat along with the bar.
Turn to the right in this area, and there are a handful of cozy booths overlooking the tarmac.
Keep walking and you’ll find some more seating options, as well as a nice workspace just behind that at a high counter situated at the far end of the lounge.
One thing this lounge is desperately missing? A restroom. You won’t find one inside the lounge at all. There is a public-use restroom just outside the lounge on the mezzanine level, but you’ll need to exit the lounge and get back in to use it.
Luckily, there’s an exit at the far south end of the lounge that spits you out near the restroom doors – but you’ll need to use the main entrance to get back in. It’s not the biggest deal in the world, but it seems like a major oversight.
On the bright side, there’s free Wi-Fi throughout the lounge – and in my experience, the internet is always plenty speedy. Wi-Fi is not password protected, you’ll just have to enter your email to connect.
Food and Drinks
Beyond the space itself, this is where the MSP Escape Lounge really shines. It’s really the heart of the lounge, and I mean that literally – the entire space is built around the food display.
For starters, the Escape Lounge specializes in small bites, plates, and salads whether you’re in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The menu constantly rotates, but you can get dishes like chilaquiles, scrambled eggs, Korean beef bulgogi, or meatballs with sides like potatoes or carrots. And it’s served in cute jars or even small cast iron skillets, self-serve buffet style. Check out a sample menu from the Escape Lounge.
In addition to those rotating entrees, you can always grab a bowl of soup or two, dish up some salad, and pick from a pretty great charcuterie spread. There’s a pretty great selection of breads and crackers as well. You’ll also find jars of snacks and candies scattered across the lounge.
Finally, there’s always a handful of desserts like cookies, pies, and petite fours out to grab.
The bar is nothing to write home about, but it’s easy enough to grab a free beer or glass of champagne or wine, as well as some rail liquor. The selection of free alcohol is by no means spectacular – think Coors Light or Bud Light for beer, and a simple red or white wine along with prosecco if you want bubbly.
Escape Lounges also offer premium options available for purchase, but the selection of complimentary drinks has always been plenty for me. Escape Lounge also keeps a menu of its free and paid drinks, though this frequently rotates, too.
There are typically at least two coffee machines with drip coffee on either end of the lounge, with to-go cups so you can skip Starbucks on the way to your gate. You’ll also find an espresso machine in the main seating area – though in our experience, this machine is almost always broken.
And it’s not just coffee you can grab before heading to your flight. There are usually refrigerators stocked with soda and water to save you from buying an overpriced drink from an airport shop. You can see bottles of Perrier in the photo below, however, the MSP Escape Lounge sadly no longer offers these.
The Escape Lounge MSP quickly became our team’s favorite lounge at our home airport. In fact, it’s one of our favorite domestic airport lounges, period.
It might be on the small side, but it’s rarely packed, in our experience. And it does the important things right: Good seating, plenty of charging, great food, free drinks, and views of the airport. Now, if they could just add bathrooms inside the lounge, it might be near-perfect.