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Pros: Good food and beverage offerings, variety of seating, great staff, views of the tarmac
Cons: Very small space, no bathroom inside the lounge!
Early in December I took a little getaway with two of our three kids. I planned the quick weekend getaway to give my wife some quality time with the youngest as well as start down the potty-training path with him.
We were only flying a quick hop out of Oakland (SEE: Boutique Air flight review: the closest I’ll ever come to flying private), but I still pulled up the Priority Pass website to see if Oakland had a lounge we could access. As expected, nothing came up when I keyed ‘OAK’ into the search. Sigh. Oh well.
Discovering the Escape Lounge Oakland
But just a few days before the trip I Google searched to see if there happened to be any lounges at the Oakland airport. That is when I stumbled upon the Escape Lounge Oakland.
The name rang a bell. I vaguely remembered there being an Escape Lounge at MSP, and that it could be accessed by Priority Pass. Now that didn’t seem to be the case. From what I researched, the Escape at MSP had been pulled from Priority Pass and now all the Escape Lounges had entered an agreement with American Express! Having that Business Platinum card suddenly came in very handy.
All of a sudden I was looking forward to a free lunch at the airport before our short flight!
Arriving at the Escape Lounge Oakland
After parking at off-airport parking, we took the shuttle to Oakland International Airport. Compared to SFO, it is pretty quiet. In some ways, I much prefer it. Nearly everything about it is easier. Security has nearly always been quieter, and the terminals are generally not as busy. It’s a great mid-size airport.
We were through Terminal 1 security in under 5 minutes. Since we’d made good time on our drive to the airport, we had a good 90 minutes to kill. I first found our gate, 8A. And whaddya know: it is right next to the Escape Lounge. How convenient.
We walked in and I handed my ID, Business Platinum Amex, and our boarding passes to the very friendly agent at the desk. He immediately remarked about us being booked on Boutique Air and asked what it was like. I unfortunately had to tell him that we had yet to find out. We did see him again on Sunday and were able to chat about the flight experience.
Once inside I immediately noticed that the lounge was small. Super small. Like…you can take in every square inch of the lounge from the check-in desk.
But it was still very nice. And it wasn’t especially crowded. We were able to snag a table by the windows looking out at the tarmac and Terminal 2.
The kids really enjoyed watching the Southwest 737s come and go. Unfortunately, the jetway for Gate 8A blocked what would have otherwise been a good view of planes touching down.
The rest of the seating was nice, and the lounge had a good variety.
The food was in the middle of the lounge, and the bar was at the far end. I asked the bartender if there was a restroom, and the answer was a surprising no. You have to walk across the hall outside. This is the first lounge that I’ve visited that doesn’t have its own restroom. I hadn’t realized it was that small.
Food at the Escape Lounge Oakland
The kids were excited to be at the “restaurant” (I haven’t yet broached the concept of a lounge with them), and I let them fill their plates with whatever appealed to them. Typically, I am a stickler and make them eat a balanced meal, but today was different and I wanted them to enjoy the trip in every way possible. So fruit, crackers, and cookies it was.
But that was fine. I enjoyed the rest of the spread. Which turned out to be quite good. In my opinion, the food easily rivaled what is available at the Centurion lounge across the Bay.
There was a selection of meats and cheeses, dolmas, and a mozzarella salad.
Since it was late morning, they still had some pastries out (which disappeared by the time we left), as well as some fruit.
There was also a small salad bar of sorts. It’s rare that I’ll eat a kale salad, but this one was actually quite good.
On the other side was some bread, soup, mushroom , and half rolls stuffed with meat.
Everything I tried was delicious.
Beverages included a soft drink selection, coffee, and then the bar. I only had coffee. The same staff who had checked us in came and offered the kids juice, which was very kind of him.
If you’re looking for a review of the bar, sorry. I didn’t ask for anything.
We had a long, drawn out lunch waiting for our flight. One of the staff came up 2 or 3 times to see if there was anything we needed. I really appreciated this, as it was the right balance between being invasive and being helpful. I did take him up on some juice for the kids, as this wasn’t available at the self-serve section.
People came and went, and the lounge stayed about half full most of the time. This made for a much nicer visit than my last few to the Centurion SFO, where I’ve barely been able to snag a seat.
The kids behaved themselves well, which I appreciated. We didn’t have any run-ins with people who believe that children don’t belong in lounges (SEE: Are families really the overcrowding problem at airport lounges?).
Our plane finally arrived, and we were able to see it directly from where we were seated. The Escape Lounge Oakland couldn’t be any more convenient for Boutique Air flights.
Hysterically, we almost missed our flight. You’ll need to read my flight review for full details.
Overall, I was impressed with the Escape Lounge Oakland. I didn’t have any real expectations going in. Which is probably why I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, it’s a bit awkward without a bathroom, but I can overlook that with all the other things the Escape Lounge Oakland has going for it.
If all you want is some good food and a quiet space before your flight, the Escape Lounge Oakland is the place.
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