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Review: Escape Plus Lounge (Virgin Atlantic, Qatar Airways) at Manchester Airport Terminal 2

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This is my review of the Escape Plus lounge at Manchester Airport Terminal 2.

You can find out more, and book entry for cash, on the airport website here.

This is part of our series of reviews of airport lounges across the UK. You see all of the reviews here.

About 18 months ago we ran a review of this lounge written by a reader – see here.  I finally got to visit myself this week and I thought I would add my own views.

Escape Plus is the ‘business class only’ lounge in Manchester Airport Terminal 2.  You cannot get in with a Priority Pass or other card.  You also can’t buy your way in.  It is only for Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic Upper Class passengers, and presumably status card holders travelling with those airlines.

Review Escape Plus Lounge Manchester Airport Terminal 2

All of the lounges are on the upper level of the main departure hall.  You turn left after passing through security and the stairs or lift you need to take are clearly marked.

On the face of it, this should make it an exclusive sanctuary.  In reality, it is far too small.  Virgin Atlantic runs a big operation out of Manchester and this lounge cannot handle it.  This is before you get to the point about whether Virgin Atlantic should actually be doing something a bit special for its passengers, as befits its image.

Review Escape Plus Lounge Manchester Airport Terminal 2

It wasn’t ‘standing room only’.  However, at the time I left, it was very close to the point where you would be sharing a table with someone else.

The photos in this review were taken as soon as I arrived – I was very early and it got a lot busier later.

Even if you had a table to yourself, as I did, it is simply not a pleasant environment when every available space – and the tables are quite close together – is occupied.

Review Escape Plus Lounge Manchester Airport Terminal 2

The lounge doesn’t even have its own bathrooms, sharing with the other third party lounges.

I’m not entirely sure why Virgin Atlantic puts up with this.  I also don’t know why the airport – which runs the lounge – has not dealt with it.  Over in Terminal 3 is the 1903 Lounge which is an excellent premium product which I reviewed here.  It is spacious, for the numbers allowed in, and it serves high quality food and drink.

Review Escape Plus Lounge Manchester Airport Terminal 2

The breakfast on offer in Escape Plus was exceptionally average.  Some egg, some cereal, juice and not a lot more.  It makes the British Airways Galleries Club experience at Heathrow or Gatwick look like a Michelin operation.

Review Escape Plus Lounge Manchester Airport Terminal 2

There wasn’t even a proper selection of newspapers or magazines – just a few random things scattered around.  They had probably received 2-3 copies of the Sunday Times and that was about it.

USB charging ports were on every table.  Plug sockets were harder to find although I did manage to find a table which had one under it.

To be totally honest, with the in-terminal restaurants relatively quiet as I walking to my plane, I seriously thought that it would have been a better experience to grab a table at one of those and work.

For now …. if you have a business class flight with Qatar Airways or Virgin Atlantic from Manchester, I would bring your Priority Pass or Lounge Club card if you have one.  This will allow you, space permitting, to pop into the standard Escape lounge or the Aspire lounge, both of which are on the same corridor.  These two lounges are often closed to ‘walk ups’ during the mornings, however, so it is not a guaranteed alternative.

A new pier is being built at Terminal 2, to open in 2020.  I don’t know if it will include any lounges or not, but hopefully the airport will take this opportunity to improve the provision available.  I can’t believe that Virgin Atlantic is happy with the status quo.

You can find out more about the lounge, and book for cash, on the airport website here.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (November 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

A generous earning rate for a free card at 0.75 points per £1 Read our full review

You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.

American Express Business Platinum

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American Express Business Gold

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Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Comments (11)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • spacedog says:

    It truly is a miserable lounge. It has no proper natural light, the food selection is poor and last time we went it took ten minutes for them to let us in because the person at the desk didn’t believe Gold members were allowed in as we were flying in PE. We’d rather eat at one of the restaurants, especially as sometimes the tiny lounge is so crowded it’s not really very relaxing. It’s a shame we can’t still use the bigger Escape Lounge, that one isn’t great but was much more pleasant.

  • Yuff says:

    My only recent UC experience was from Manchester and I wasn’t impressed with the lounge or the flight. Boarding was embarrassing, no priority for premium cabins, although they did halt the economy passengers to let us through which wasn’t an altogether pleasant experience ….
    Fortunately we flew BA F back from JFK, which was a much better experience, they let my mother in law into the Concorde room even though she was in J and would have upgraded her to F if there had have been space available, it was The Saturday at the end of October half term so very busy……BA were fantastic compared to Virgin on those 2 flights

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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