Some of you may remember the good old days when family members were permitted to meet their traveling relatives directly at the gate when flying into an airport. Thanks to terrorists, those days came to a screeching halt at the turn of the century. Security practices after 9/11 prohibited anyone without a valid plane ticket from passing through security checkpoints. But it would seem that those long lost, romantic days when you could escort your family all the way to their gate might be making a comeback.
Several airports throughout the United States have started allowing non-ticketed passengers to pass through security checkpoints once again. There are, of course, still plenty of restrictions, but many families are welcoming the reduced restrictions. You may think that these airports are simply trying to make life a little easier for families, but their motivation is more likely related to dollars and cents. Here’s a closer look at the airports allowing non-passengers through security and why they’re doing it.
Tampa International Airport
Tampa International is the latest airport to allow non-ticketed guests through security. The reason behind the decision is similar for all airports currently allowing the trend. They’re hoping to get more families, couples, and those looking for unique dining and shopping experiences to visit the shops and restaurants within the airport, beyond the security checkpoints. Keep in mind that most of the gift shops in airports are duty-free, so there is a bit of motivation for non-passengers to shop within the terminal.
Tampa International doesn’t make it easy, though. To be allowed access beyond security, guests will have to register online at least 24 hours before they plan to arrive. Then, they must get approved and can only visit between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Plus, they still have to pass through security with a valid I.D.
Pittsburgh International Airport
Pittsburgh International was the first U.S. airport to allow non-passengers past security. They’ve allowed it for the last two years, in fact. Each week, hundreds of additional patrons pass through security, but they’re only allowed to come through between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays only.
Seattle Tacoma Airport
Seattle Tacoma isn’t currently allowing non-ticketed people through security, but they did launch a test pilot program last November by allowing more than 1,100 people to come through security without a ticket. The results were positive, and while they don’t have any rock-solid plans in place right now, the airport is considering bringing the program back in the future.