Well, this is a turn up for the books.
The uber-premium 1903 Lounge in Manchester Airport’s Terminal 3 is no more.
It has been rebranded as an ‘Escape’ lounge. My understanding is that it will be used exclusively for Priority Pass, LoungeKey and other lounge club cardholders, which is a great result.
Opened in 2017, Manchester Airport spent £1.6m to get the ‘adults only’ 1903 Lounge up and running. The photos in this article are from the review I did at the time.
Priced at £35, this was very much a premium priced lounge. It is a sign of the times that £40 is now seen as standard for ‘pay on the door’ entry to some average London airport lounges.
1903, by the way, references the year that the Wright brothers made their first flight.
Where is the new Escape Lounge (ex 1903 Lounge)?
The new Escape Lounge is in Terminal 3 at Manchester Airport, used by British Airways and many other scheduled airlines.
It is on the same level as, and only a few paces from, the empty shell of the old British Airways Terraces lounge and the other Escape lounge (reviewed here).
Your initial approach to the new Escape Lounge is not hugely promising, down a slightly depressing corridor. The airport has done the best it can to lighten it up, however, with this impressive image:
These pictures are from 2017:
Are fish finger sandwiches still on offer?!
My view back in 2017 was that considerably more money had been spent on food than was strictly necessary. It was a noticeable step up from anything you found in a mainstream lounge. This may no longer be the case of course.
Here is the bar, as of 2017:
Decor was done well:
Other smart touches included this fascinating coffee maker, the like of which I had never seen before.
You have probably seen ‘hot taps’ which can dispense boiling water for tea or instant coffee. This system had an entire coffee machine hidden out of sight! There was a tap built into the table top and an iPad alongside showing different drink types. You tap the iPad display button for, say, a cappuccino and it is dispensed from the tap! I found this strangely impressive.
The view is very impressive.
The main wall comprises floor to ceiling glass windows. Aircraft gates are directly below you, but you are also looking directly out onto the main runway. Every time an aircraft lands it will taxi past you on the way to its stand. I’m not a plane spotter in the slightest – I can’t even tell the difference between Boeing and Airbus short-haul planes – but it was still pretty cool to watch.
I was impressed by this lounge back in 2017. In my original review, I even suggested that BA passengers travelling for a special occasion should pay for the 1903 Lounge rather than go into the BA lounge for free.
If this new Escape Lounge is now exclusively a Priority Pass / DragonPass / LoungeKey lounge, with paying customers stuck in the poorer original Escape Lounge, then this is a good result.
According to the Priority Pass website, opening hours are 4am to 4pm daily, except for Friday (closes at 7pm) and Saturday (closes at 1pm).
If you passing through Manchester Terminal 3 this weekend and are able to pop in, please post below about what you find.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (September 2022)
As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit card:
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.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.
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 you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus. Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.
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.