If you’re heading to Minnesota this weekend for FTU Minneapolis (and you should — Greg and I will be there and look forward to meeting you!) and you have a Priority Pass, you’ll have your last chance to enjoy the MSP Escape Lounge unless you are also an Amex Platinum (business or personal) or Centurion card holder. As of June 14th, this lounge will be leaving the Priority Pass network in favor of an exclusive partnership with Amex. I had the chance to visit the MSP Escape lounge this past weekend — and it was pretty nice compared to most domestic lounges!
The lounge check-in process was smooth if a bit long. I entered the lounge at about the same time as the gentleman in front of me and a couple that was behind me. When the man in front of me presented his Priority Pass, the young woman at the desk asked if he had an American Express Platinum or Centurion card. She then explained that beginning June 14th, they would no longer be accepting Priority Pass members and one would rather need an Amex Platinum or Centurion card. This information was also on a sign that was prominently displayed on the desk. Figuring that I was in for the same spiel if I gave her my Priority Pass card, I handed over my Business Platinum card when it was my turn. The agent said she would just need to see my ID — and then proceeded to explain the whole bit about Priority Pass again. She was very friendly and professional about it — but I didn’t succeed in fast forwarding past it with my Platinum card. As I continued on into the lounge, the couple behind me (who had taken out their Priority Pass while waiting) got to hear about the end of Priority Pass access for a third time. At least they are being thorough — and for that I give them credit.
Once I got in, I grabbed a bite to eat. While the spread was far from what you get in many of the glitzier foreign business and first class lounges, it was still worlds beyond what I’ve seen at some domestic Priority Pass locations (IASS Honololu lounge, I’m looking at you).
Food & Drink
The food spread was much better than the hummus-and-trail-mix I found at an Admirals Club lounge in Chicago after my next flight. The pictured island had meats and cheeses, crackers, pretzels, cookies, muffins, and salad with toppings. Not pictured was soup (tomato the day I was there) and some sort of Korean beef sliders. Not quite sure how long the sliders had been out, so I passed on those. However, I put together a decent plate.
The bar was well-stocked and there was plenty of free alcohol. All three of the “bottom” shelves are complimentary in this picture:
There were beers and wines to the right end and enough to suit many palates on the bottom shelves to the left. I asked the bartender what the prices were like for the top shelf liquors. She told me that it really ranged — it was $55 a shot for Johnnie Walker Blue Label, but Captain Morgan would only set you back $5 for example. I stuck with a glass of red wine as that was perfectly fine for me.
Alternatively, there were coolers with soda and water spread around the lounge. There were also coffee makers in two different areas.
There was plenty of seating throughout the lounge and it was clean and nice. Despite the lack of people in this picture, the lounge was pretty busy while I was there. The staff members were hard at work — I don’t think I saw them stop moving the entire time I was there between checking guests in, cleaning, serving drinks, and replenishing the food. Still, it didn’t seem hectic or chaotic — it was a decent place to get some work done before my flight. The staff members were friendly and personable when I needed help.
This is a better-than-average lounge. On this trip alone, in order to grab some pictures and points of comparison, I visited an Admirals Club at Dallas-Fort Worth airport, this Escape lounge, the main United Club lounge at Chicago-O’Hare, and an Admirals Club at Chicago O’Hare. I had planned to check out the Centurion Lounge at DFW as well, but I had 4 flight segments in one day and 3 of them were delayed. I didn’t end up having enough time in Dallas to get over to the right terminal. Out of the lounges I visited, this was the best combination of food, drink, and atmosphere. This is definitely where I’ll be before my flight home after this weekend is over — and I might even make a stop on arrival if I can. If you’re attending FTU and you have a Priority Pass, get here while you can. If you’re Minneapolis-based, going forward this lounge adds a nice value proposition to the Platinum cards as I would definitely make use of the lounge if I were local.
Hope to see you this weekend — both at FTU and in the lounge!