Virgin flight 128 touched down smoothly in Manchester, setting off a strange chain of events that kept me from writing the Escape lounge review sooner. Back at JFK, Virgin had neglected to print me a boarding pass for my second flight, MAN-AMS. That meant I needed to individually convince three different UK border/security officers that, indeed, I had a seat on a flight out of Manchester. After clearing security, I was paired with the only other American traveler present and privately escorted to our terminal.
This is the second time this has happened to me in Manchester, and I never get any explanation. The entire airport seems built on the premise that no passenger has a layover there nor needs to switch terminals. When either of those events occur, things seem to fall apart. So after this hourlong oddity, I hit the lounge quickly to review it! I’ve got access (as usual) through Priority Pass, a perk of having the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. No Boingo WiFi, but the lounge provided semi-decent service.
The Escape lounge is beautifully lit: two walls are made up of windows that look out on the tarmac. For morning arrivals, it’s a great way to sit and wake up with a coffee and some Vitamin D. Like Wingtips at JFK, they’ve separated the lounge into several smaller areas and provided a variety of seating options. If looking at the tarmac isn’t your thing, you can sit above/outside of the glass dome that overlooks the terminal beneath. Privacy chairs line one of the walls, which makes work/calls/sleeping a bit more comfortable. The lounge has also provided a plethora of magazines and newspapers, as well as a basket of books to take with you (for a £2 suggested donation).
You can enjoy beer/wine/liquor for free any time of day in the lounge, though there are several signs warning that intoxicated guests won’t be served. Both times I’ve visited this lounge (in the morning), there have been some cured meats, hot breakfast pastries, cereals, coffee/juice/tea, and the usual accompaniments.
Downside: no showers. There’s one all-accessible private bathroom, but it none offers much in the way of comfort, water pressure/temperature, etc. Here are the photos.
International economy class with Virgin was really great. Of the US carriers, only Delta comes close to that level of comfort for the lowest-class passengers. It’s nothing incredible, but a little goes a long way in airline hospitality.
The lounge is located just upstairs from the central dining area in the main terminal. It’s neighbors with the British Air Executive lounge.
One of the two main seating areas– books to read, places to sit and eat/work.
Seats that offer some privacy are always nice.
The other main seating area, with great views of the runway.
Plenty of coffee– much needed.
High-school-cafeteria-level food, all free, though.
Bartenders are on duty all day.
And that’s it! Lounge access is the greatest perk of having the Chase Sapphire Reserve (except for the free flights!). It really beats sitting in the terminal, especially if you’re traveling once per month like me. If you’d like to read more of these articles, just subscribe here (no spam, ever).