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Review: the brand new Escape Lounge in Manchester Airport Terminal 2

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This is our review of the new Escape Lounge in the newly opened Terminal 2 extension at Manchester Airport.

I was in Manchester Airport last week for a tour of the new terminal building which has been open since July. You can read more about Manchester Airport’s Terminal 2 extension in this article.

You can find all of the Head for Points UK airport lounge reviews by clicking here.

Manchester Airport T2 lounges

Three new lounges are opening in the building: two airport-operated lounges including the Escape and 1903 Lounges and a third party lounge operated by Aspire, which has yet to open. A space has also been allocated for a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse which will open when flight numbers justify it.

The Escape Lounge is the only lounge of the three to be currently open for general use, although it will soon be followed by the slightly more premium 1903 Lounge from September. It is open from 4:40am until 5pm daily.

You enter via a sort of shared reception between Escape and 1903:

Manchester Airport Escape 1903 lounge lobby

There is some seating here, although it is not within the lounge proper. I get the feeling the airport team haven’t quite decided how to utlise this space, although they have said that as the lounge gets busier it will become an overflow space with a food offering from the tuktuk:

Manchester Airport Escape lounge tuktuk

From the shared space you turn left into the Escape Lounge:

Manchester Airport T2 Escape Lounge entrance

As you can see, the lounge was lively during our visit and is proving popular with travellers:

Manchester Airport T2 Escape lounge

On the right is an impressive buffet which puts your average airline-run lounge to shame. You have a number of hot options:

Manchester Airport T2 Escape lounge hot buffet

…. as well as sandwiches:

Manchester Airport T2 Escape lounge sandwiches

Salads and deli:

Manchester Airport T2 Escape lounge salads

…. plus freshly baked scones and pastries:

Manchester Airport T2 Escape lounge pastries

The vast majority of the food is prepared on site in a dedicated kitchen down the corridor. It genuinely looks good, and one of the best lounge spreads I have seen at this price point.

Alcohol is available at the bar (this is one of the key differnces between the Escape Lounge and 1903, where self-pour is available). There is an extra charge for champagne.

Manchester Airport T2 Escape lounge bar

All the new lounges feature floor to ceiling windows with views across the tarmac, which are understandably popular:

Manchester Airport T2 Escape lounge view

There is also a shared space between the Escape Lounge and 1903 Lounge that can be closed off on one side depending on which lounge is in higher demand:

Manchester Airport T2 EScape lounge flexible space

How to access the Escape Lounge at Manchester T2

At Terminal 2, the Escape Lounge is the home lounge for a number of airlines including Tui, with KLM and Air France joining soon. Following the permanent closure of its own lounge, British Airways uses the Escape Lounge in Terminal 1 which bears no comparison to this one, unfortunately.

If you are not flying in business class or do not have status then you can access this lounge using several different lounge passes such as Priority Pass (free with American Express Platinum, two one-off entry passes free with an American Express Gold card or buy one directly here). DragonPass, Lounge Key and Diners Club are also accepted. 

Alternatively, you can book direct online via the airport website for £23 per person.

Conclusion

The Escape Lounge at Manchester Airport Terminal 2 is technically the ‘entry level’ lounge but I was seriously impressed with what I found.

The buffet is impressive, with a much better offering than you’ll find at many lounges including the British Airways Galleries Club at Heathrow. Whilst alcohol isn’t self-pour it is available for free. It represents a genuine step-up for the ‘Escape’ brand which has not, in all honesty, shone to date.

Tomorrow we look at the premium 1903 Lounge to see how it can possibly top this.

The lounge website is here if you want to book a spot for cash.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (September 2021)

As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges. The card has a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points which is a special offer running to 2nd November 2021.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with two free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here

Additional lounge visits are charged at £20.  You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and a special 30,000 points sign-up bonus until 9th November 2021.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (33)

  • Dylan says:

    This sounds very similar to the Escape + Amex Centurion Lounges in Phoenix, eg shared entry point, dining area that can be closed off for one lounge or the other, surprisingly decent food spread, a slightly higher premium area (1903 or amex), etc.

  • mark2 says:

    Isn’t that an Ape rather than a tuk-tuk?

    • TimM says:

      It is a Piaggo Ape- common across Europe and well beyond, though sadly a rare site in the UK. There are sorts of adaptions available, e.g. pickup, taxi (closest to a tuk-tuk), kitted out for mobile greengrocers or fishmongers and the famous ‘sports’ racing version with a roll bar. There is of an all-electric version too – possibly my dream vehicle.

  • Novice says:

    Shouldn’t staff serve the buffet??? A lot of food is not covered. I thought there’s a pandemic happening 😂 I had wrongly imagined the world might finally get hygienic but all my staycations have taught me it was wishful thinking.😒

    • John says:

      Being indoors and maskless is a lot more conducive to spread than touching utensils. With this logic buffets should never have been invented. Your stomach acids will kill viruses.

      • Novice says:

        Well I’m sure you can probably tell; I never have been a fan of buffets because not even washes hands. Even now have seen loads of people not washing hands after using toilets.

        So I meant it generally and also food out in open = someone would breathe on it.

        • Novice says:

          Not everyone *

        • John says:

          OK, fair enough, but either your immune system is strong enough or it isn’t.

          I haven’t changed any of my habits because of covid, as I was already doing all the recommended hygiene practices since I was 5 years old; I can’t hire a cleaner because they would make my house dirtier.

    • David Cliff says:

      How on earth has the human race survived until now without the use of sanitizers and masks! We build our immunity to disease through contact with germs etc. We are only making things worse for ourselves by isolating in sterile environments. As a child i ate mud 🤣 im still alive and thriving!

      • Rui N. says:

        What you did there is called “survivorship bias”

      • Peter K says:

        Interesting point David Cliff. But have you noticed that since hygiene has improved over the past 100 or so years, so has life expectancy, and there has been a significant drop in infant mortality.

        • sayling says:

          It can’t be coincidence that life expectancy increases and reductions in infant mortality over the past 100 years of development, popularity and spread of the internal combustion engine – can it?

          • Peter K says:

            @Sayling
            I imagine it isn’t a coincidence, no. Ambulances, better transport of medication, health services within easy travelling distance of most people etc likely has helped!

      • Mike says:

        David did you voluntarily eat mud – or are you Northern 😀

    • TimM says:

      There is a trend on cruise ships that started well before the pandemic to eliminate their (‘casual’) self-serve buffets in favour of ‘food court’ style themed stalls where staff plate the food by request. This way customers only get what they ask for, in modest quantities, and the staff can improve the presentation on the plate and make suggestions of what goes with what. The result is far less food waste and happier customers.

      • riku says:

        i would much prefer this food court style service in lounges as well. I have seen people touching half a dozen bread rolls before taking one – ignoring the tongs next to the bread basket.

        • Novice says:

          Exactly my point… everyone has different levels of what they deem is basic hygiene… Some ppl don’t care about certain things like that but my OCD doesn’t like it at all. That’s why regular commenters may remember initially i was happy world is about to get to my level of hygiene and no nobody would die probably from poor hygiene but the question is would I want other people’s toilet unwashed hands touching my food.

          It’s a bit like if it’s your own dog you know how clean the pet is but you wouldn’t be sharing your food with someone else’s dog.

          That’s the way I see it.

          And also yh the food court style thing is way better and it doesn’t help that lounges are supposed to be for premium travellers yet anyone can access if they pay which means packed lounges and buffets with more ppl who have no sense.

  • John says:

    Would hit!

    😉

  • Toddy says:

    My experience of using Priority Pass/Lounge key at Manchester airport isn’t great.

    I am denied entry around 50% of the time, as the lounge is “full”. This situation will get worse at T1, with the closure of the BA lounge.

    As with almost everything at MAN, it’s rarely a positive experience. Hopefully the new t2 will improve things!

    • sigma421 says:

      My hope is that in T3 Escape will knock through into the former BA space and enlarge their lounge, which would go a long way to solving the issue.

      For all my dislike of MAN I always found the T3 Escape lounge to be a fairly good product for a Priority Pass lounge.

    • Blair says:

      That’s interesting; what times do you usually fly when you get denied entry? I’ve never been denied entry at MAN Escape (T1, T3) or Aspire. I was in Escape T1 Friday, just before 17.00 close. I think the food has gone up a notch in quality. The usually bland egg sandwich on sliced bread with barely any filling is now on better quality bread (albeit still sliced pan) with plenty of filling and even some spring onions for garnish.

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      I have NEVER been allowed entry with PP at MAN. Hopeful that this makes some difference. A decent VS Clubhouse would make an even bigger difference of course so here’s hoping for a resumption of US travel soon.

      • Blair says:

        Were you wearing a football jersey? Athleisure? Did you ask if dinnertime was over (at 2pm)? I’m really surprised to hear this experience from others.

        • Rob says:

          This is the general reader experience at MAN I think – but then you weren’t missing much. Hopefully this new lounge has far more capacity.

        • The Savage Squirrel says:

          I will admit I was almost always travelling at peak times (usually at the time slot a couple of the key VS flights were going)…. but then most people are travelling at peak times by definition 😀 so I think my experience will not be too unusual.

          • Blair says:

            Aha ok I was generally T3 at peak times and BA passengers had their own lounge and AF-KLM used 1903 so Escape was thus left to direct bookings. T1 Aspire tended to be non-peak visits.

  • Nick says:

    Is all booze available, or just the cheap low-rent stuff? Rhys only mentions champagne, nothing else.

    • Blair says:

      Escape have a bar with spirits but they slow heavy drinkers down by serving slowly and there’s a message that they might call time on your drinking at their discretion. Beers are self serve from fridges.

  • Karl says:

    As far as I remember I’ve managed to get in lounges maybe 3 or 4 times out 10 at Manchester. Flew at all times of day but mostly mornings. Was usually advised that booking in advance for a fee would guarantee a spot for future visits.

    • Blair says:

      It’s not clear how to do that on the website though. PP+£5 pre-booking is better for me than the alternatives. MAN food court can be a genuinely intimidating place when you’re 5 foot 7 and have matching Tumi cabin sets.

    • Peter K says:

      I’ve not travelled from Manchester a lot but have always in the 5 or so times got into a lounge with 2 people, using PP.

  • Cheshire Pete says:

    We unexpectedly used the Escape at T1 on Thursday and found it nice. It closes at 5 also which is when our flight was leaving anyhow. We knew in an hour we’d easily spend £50 between us for a couple of rounds of drinks and some basic food offering in the Main terminal. On the door we were offered £16 each for an hour which I’ve never send advertised before. We recognised. (And they us) some of the staff. One from the PremiAir terminal, who remembered us as we we turned up on the wrong day once just as it was closing, and they drove us back to the main T3 in the Limo which was a lovely courtesy I thought! Also a charming lady who would normally works in the 1903 lounge, ex American airline staff, who just knew how to engage with people. Being used to the previous BA lounge, this as our first MAN lounge experience since lockdown in March 2020 and we were impressed on this occasion with the overall atmosphere and friendliness. You can absolutely tell all the staff must have missed their jobs so much over a near 18 month furlough.

    • Blair says:

      I agree with this. Massive staff service improvement. I was directed to find a table and they’d bring my PP and boarding pass to me when check in complete. A staff member passing by the food station stopped to lift food covers and serve me as I balanced 2 plates.

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