A Different Kind of Military Airport Lounge

We are all familiar with the great USO system at numerous airports around the country.  I am here to tell you about a non-USO lounge at DTW (Detroit) that is just as good as any USO.  Named the Freedom Center it is a privately run lounge paid for through donations.  The volunteers are just as enthusiastic and gracious as any USO volunteer.


As you can see this lounge has only been there for about a year.  This was my second visit and they continue to improve.  When I entered, I was offered a chicken caeser salad.  Can’t say I have ever been to a USO that had such a nice meal.  Obviously, they are doing OK with donors.  They had a ton of pogie bait to take with you for the flight.  The lounge is easy to find.  Go through security into Councourse A and go about 100 feet to your left.  It has a pretty narrow entrance, but that leads back to a cozy couple of rooms that can comfortably fit a dozen people or so with overstuffed easy chairs, big screen TV, and free Wi-Fi.

IMG_0900 IMG_0902

Pretty nice place to relax and hang out.  Best of all, unlike most USOs, it is airside meaning you can wait until just before your flight boards to leave.  Make sure you get there before they call “military members in uniform” although Delta didn’t do that for my flight back to DCA.  Oh, well, I still boarded second due to my status on Alaska.  Check out the Freedom Center and let us know if you find other non-USO military lounges at other airports.  EDIT:  I should have included their website: http://mifreedomcenter.org/



  1. Is it just for active duty or can retiree use it? What about retiree dependents traveling solo? I ask because we have a summer home in Michigan and I always have to make a connection at DTW.

    1. Jane, Glenn, and other military personnel: The Freedom Center warmly welcomes, active duty, reservists, guard members, veterans, retirees, and dependents. We also welcome allied military personnel.

      We are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, from 0600 until approx 2230 (we are flight dependant on closing). If we have overnight guests, we will either stay open, or accommodate them for the night. If by chance we are closed when a guest arrives, there is a phone number on our front door to call, and we will make the lounge accessible.

      If you haven’t already visited us, please do, we are confident you will enjoy your stay.

      (And thank you Glenn for the review!)

      Charlotte, Center Director
      Freedom Center

  2. Wow this place sounds great! We are flying into dtw and with the weather at our home airport we may need to stop over and see you tomorrow!! Thank you for what you are doing, it means the world to servicemen and veterans !! We hope to see you tomorrow!!
    Retired vet Mark MAC McAuliffe

  3. My family and I have used your center and we have enjoyed it every time. The bunk beds were nice for the kids to lay back on and relax. It does make military memebers feel appreciated. Thank you very much.

  4. As a veteran who has served in the Army, I was welcome here and had a very comfortable experience while waiting for my flight. They could not have been more generous and welcoming, unlike the USO who reject veterans. I left a nice cash donation. Can’t wait to see more of these.

  5. While buying a cup of coffee at the airport in Detroit After being asked I purchased a phone card for the military. Is this legitimate

    1. @ William – Probably. There are a number of charity programs out there who ask for donations to buy phone cards and then send them to Service Members overseas. My own experience in Iraq was that there was little restriction on using the phones over there to call home for free. However, there is a case for SMs in non-combat areas, such as Korea, to be able to use a phone card to call home. That’s what I had to do when I was over there in the ’90s.

  6. The FIRST volunteer created, run, managed Military Lounge was at T.F. Green Airport in little Rhode Island -2013. a small State with a big Military presence. Rhode Island Military Organization, The Rhode Island Blue Star Moms and the Airport Corporation created our lounge with stunning donations from all over our State. And we have grown.

  7. This is a wonderful, safe, and comforting environment! One of the hardest part of traveling is the anxiety of being in an unsecured location. The comfort here is first class! Thank you to all the volunteers and donors who help make this lounge possible.

  8. Great information! Thanks! May I add that there is a Non-USO military lounge at Miami Airport, Fl. E terminal has a lounge that is run by Dade County. My wife and I went there a few months ago and I must say, it is just as wonderful as the fabulous USO. It does welcome anyone with a valid military ID, meaning, reservists, active duty, retirees, dependents…

  9. I am a US Navy veteran who served for eight years. I tried to access the DTW center and did not have any proof that I had served other than my boot camp photo. I was allowed in. However, I did not feel welcomed.

  10. Dango is 100% correct in how the USO rejects veterans. I just experienced it in Charlotte airport. Only for active duty and retirees. Very sad but true

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.