Chicken-apple sausage, spinach quiche, melon and a scone filled my plate. The view, though, drew my attention away. Outside the expansive windows, airplanes soared skyward. I was at Escape Lounge, a new spot at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport designed to keep fliers happy — at least those with extra cash.

Unlike other exclusive lounges that draw mostly first-class passengers and frequent fliers, Escape is not tied to an airline. Anyone is welcome who pays the cost of admission: $45 for adults and $38 for ages 12 and under, or $40 and $30 if booked ahead at escapelounges.com.

The space, on the mezzanine level near Ike’s, feels exceptionally calm, perhaps because people don’t know about it yet or don’t want to pay the price.

Bathed in natural light from a wall of windows, the space includes a quiet nook with iPads and individual seating, oversized booths in the main room and a library stockpiled with magazines, newspapers and comfortable chairs. The food beats the minimuffins I’ve had at airline lounges. All the items on my breakfast plate came with the price of admission, although I could have ordered up (toast with an egg and guacamole plus a mixed-greens salad for $6.50, for instance). The same is true of alcohol and the lunch and dinner menus: A nice array is gratis; other items carry a price.

At MSP, I popped into a United lounge (which would have cost $50, had I decided to stay) and a Delta lounge ($59). Compared with Escape Lounge, both felt only marginally more relaxed than the terminal (which is, of course, filled with other places to sit, dine and drink). The newcomer may grow to have crowded days, too. But for now, Escape Lounge feels like a secret gem, hovering just above the crowds at the airport mall — upstairs and upscale.

 

Contact Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com.