A Look at Non-Traveler Access Programs in Major U.S. Airports

In recent years, the traditional practice of greeting loved ones at the gate or spending time with travelers before their departure has become increasingly rare. However, several airports in the United States are spearheading initiatives to revive this cherished tradition.

Airports across the nation have introduced programs that allow non-travelers to pass through security and spend time in post-security areas without a plane ticket. These programs cater to individuals accompanying friends and family who are traveling or wish to greet them upon arrival.

The concept, albeit with certain conditions, has gained popularity since its inception. Pittsburgh International Airport pioneered this movement in 2017, although its program has been temporarily suspended. Nevertheless, other airports have followed suit, with Philadelphia International Airport being the latest addition to offer a similar program starting November 1, 2023. Orlando International Airport also launched its visitor pass program last month, specifically for its newest terminal, Terminal C.

Let’s take a closer look at some major U.S. airports that allow non-travelers to access post-security terminals:

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)

Launching on November 1, 2023, the PHL Wingmate Pass enables non-ticketed guests to access post-security areas. The program, available daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., requires online application one to seven days in advance. Approved applicants receive a digital Wingmate Pass via email, either on the day of their visit or within 15 minutes for same-day entrance.

Orlando International Airport (MCO)

Orlando’s Experience MCO Visitor Pass Program permits non-ticketed visitors to enter Terminal C. Applicants must complete an online form up to seven days before their visit and receive approval via email after midnight on the day of their planned visit. Passes must be presented digitally, and visitors must exit the terminal by 8 p.m.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)

SEA Visitor Pass, initiated in 2018, accommodates up to 300 visitors daily. Applicants can apply online, either on the day of their visit or up to seven days in advance, and receive a QR code via email for entry at the TSA checkpoint. The airport recommends visitors depart by 10 p.m.

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)

MSY Guest Pass, available from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, imposes limits on visitor numbers. Applicants must apply online at least 24 hours in advance, with minors requiring their registration if accompanied by an adult with a guest pass.

Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)

Detroit’s DTW Destination Pass, accessible at both terminals, involves applying at kiosks on the Departures Level using a U.S. government-issued photo ID. The pass is valid for same-day use from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., with minors needing adult accompaniment.

John Wayne Airport (SNA)

SNA’s OC AirPASS allows non-ticketed visitors access until 11 p.m. Applicants undergo verification through an online security system, typically completed within minutes. Check-in is required at the information booth in Terminals A, B, or C from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., accompanied by a valid government-issued ID.

Tulsa International Airport (TUL)

TUL Visitor Pass Program permits online applications up to seven days in advance, with minors completing individual registrations. Passholders can exit and re-enter the terminal throughout operating hours on their registered day.

These programs reflect a growing effort among airports to enhance traveler experiences and facilitate meaningful connections between passengers and their loved ones. By allowing non-travelers to access post-security areas, airports are fostering a sense of community and togetherness within their terminals.

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