Has the American Express Centurion Lounge met its match? In Phoenix (PHX) airport, that might be the case.
Introducing the Escape Lounge. This small network of airport lounges is frequently overshadowed by Centurion Lounges, which are known for their chic decor, great food, and better cocktails. You get your choice when flying out of Phoenix, where this pair of lounges recently opened.
They're next-door neighbors, and let's just say “Escape” is the perfect name for this small lounge. While the Centurion Lounge was packed to the brim during a recent visit, that wasn't the case for its neighbor.
Read on for our full review of the Escape Lounge!
How To Get into the Escape Lounge
While you can buy day passes to the Escape Lounge Phoenix (for about $40 per person booking online, or $45 at the lounge), there's a better way.
The new Escape Lounge Phoenix is part of the American Express Lounge Collection. That means you can get in by holding either the personal or small business version of the American Express Platinum credit card.
Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card® from American Express.
Click Here to learn more about the Business Platinum Card® from American Express.
With those cards, you can bring up to two additional guests in with you for free. Children under two will be admitted free of charge, and won't count towards the two complimentary guest count as long as they are accompanied by a parent or guardian with a “lap infant” boarding pass, birth certificate or any other proof of age.
If you wish to bring in more than two guests, each additional guest costs $45 per person.
Head to the lounge and simply present your Platinum card along with a same-day boarding pass on any airline. There is no requirement that you purchased the flight with your Amex Platinum card. The lounge is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Phoenix Escape Lounge Location
The new Escape Lounge at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX) is located in Terminal 4, across from Gate B22.
If you're not flying American, Southwest, Hawaiian or the other airlines that fly in or out of Terminal 4, don't worry: You can take the Phoenix Sky Train from another terminal. However, if you're departing out of another terminal, you will need to pass through security upon arrival in Terminal 4.
On the main floor of the Terminal 4 B gates, you'll see an entrance for both the Centurion Lounge and the Escape Lounge across from gate B22. Here, you'll show your boarding pass, ID, and your American Express card. Remember, you and up to two guests can get in for free if you hold the Platinum Card from American Express. Take the elevator up to the upper floor to enter the lounge.
On the upper floor, you'll see the entrance to the Centurion Lounge straight ahead. Instead, turn left to the Escape Lounge entrance.
Lounge Seating & Amenities
After visiting the packed Centurion Lounge right across the hall, the Escape Lounge was a peaceful oasis. There were hardly any travelers here on a late Sunday afternoon.
When you first walk in, you'll find a space with multiple types of seating options. The friendly staff were very welcoming.
As you walk through this first area, you can see the departure schedule and newspapers on the left, an array of cookies straight ahead, and window-view seats on the right.
All seats are equipped with some kind of table and charging port. The seating options in this first area are exceptionally comfortable, well-lit, and offer options for both solo travelers and groups.
Turn left at the end of the entrance area and you'll get a view of the most important part: the food bar. There is cafe-style seating along the wall here.
To the right next to the windows you'll find the bar area.
Past the food bar to the left is a larger dining hall-style seating area, for overflow and larger groups. Despite its small square footage (under 5,000 square feet), the Escape Lounge wears its size well and wasn't nearly as crowded as the similarly sized Centurion Lounge next door.
This area was also nearly empty when I visited. This area also has great natural light and awesome views of the terminal activity outside.
There are so many seating options here, and plenty of empty seats to choose from.
Food and Drink
The food options in the Escape Lounge Phoenix are exceptional. In fact, I found the spread here to be more enticing and tasty than the options in the Centurion Lounge next door during my visit.
It's worth noting that Escape serves food far differently than Centurion Lounges. Rather than dishing up full meals, there's an endless supply of small dishes.
First up were salads: a greens and boiled egg salad, and a cold noodle salad.
There were several hot food options: steak and chicken for make-your-own tacos and roasted vegetables. All options are listed above the food bar with dietary notes.
Tortillas for tacos and roasted broccolini with almonds were also available.
Steak and chicken, fajitas-style, coming right up.
And a pretty good meat and cheese platter was available, too.
And if you're in the mood for a little dessert, you can find the cookie jars on the flip side of the bar, right across from the food bar. They even have gluten-free cookies! There are also a few trail mix and cookie jars in other seating areas throughout the lounge.
As for beverages, there's a station behind the food bar with iced tea, infused water, sparkling and still water, tea, coffee, and more.
Ready for a cocktail? Visit the bar, adjacent to the food bar. This spacious bar has all your typical offerings. The bar also offers bar snacks if you're ready to belly-up.
The entire Thrifty Traveler team loves the Escape Lounge at Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), and this Phoenix location is just as exceptional.
While Centurion lounges get all the accolades, the Escape Lounge Phoenix is the sleeper favorite among these two strong lounge options – especially when the Centurion lounge next door is packed.