You can do it a Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), and you can do it at Tampa International Airport (TPA).
Now Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) will let you do it, too.
Starting Tuesday Detroit Metro Airport will allow non-ticketed guests to spend time on the post-security side of both the McNamara and North terminals.
The “DTW Destination Pass” program allows non-flyers to come to the airport to shop, eat, check out the art, plane spot, people watch, escort a friend or family to their gate or be there when a loved one deplanes.
“The new regulations allow us to expand our gate pass program that already exists for our Westin hotel guests,” said Wayne County Airport Authority CEO Chad Newton in a statement, “Now we can welcome more community members into our home to create memorable moments — from watching planes to greeting family and friends.”
DTW’s Destination Pass program isn’t permanent (yet) but is being piloted through the holidays with an end date of Jan. 5, 2020.
Other airports invite non-ticketed visitors, too
While DTW’s Destination Pass is being piloted, the gate-pass programs at Pittsburgh International Airport and Tampa International Airport are permanent.
PIT kicked off the trend with the “myPIT Pass” program in August 2017. The program operates Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Non-ticketed visitors may apply for a pass by showing a U.S. government-issued photo ID at a special counter in the terminal.
The Tampa airport introduced its TPA All Access Pass in April 2019. TPA’s pass allows non-ticketed guests who apply at least 24 hours in advance to visit one of four airside areas of the airport each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is a limit of 25 people per airside.
“The All-Access program is well,” said TPA spokeswoman Emily Nipps. “According to the surveys we conduct following our guests’ visits, they love it. No issues at security checkpoints, no issues with the additional people at our airside terminals.”
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport tested a gate-pass program for a few weeks during the 2018 holiday season and had 1,165 people take advantage of the program. Airport spokesman Perry Cooper says the decision to bring back the program on a temporary or permanent basis is still under review.
According to Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Lorie Dankers, before any airport can offer a gate-pass program to non-ticketed fliers, the airport must submit a formal proposal to the TSA to amend the local airport security plan. If TSA approves the plan, an airport is permitted to invite non-ticketed passengers past security.
So perhaps we’re seeing the beginning of a trend.
How the new Detroit post-security pass works
The “DTW Destination Pass” program allows non-flying guests to head to the Detroit Metro Airport to shop, eat, check out the art, plane spot, people watch, escort a friend or family to their gate or be there when a loved one deplanes. (Photo: Detroit Metro Airport)
Up to 75 non-ticketed passengers a day will be able to enter the secure side of both DTW terminals from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Visitors will need to apply for a pass through the DTW website the day before their planned visit. Applicants will get an email notification letting them know if the application has been approved. If approved, detailed instructions will be sent electronically.
Pass holders will need to go through the same security screening as all other passengers going through the security checkpoints. During peak checkpoint times, passengers heading to flights will get priority over pass holders at the checkpoints.
After their visit, pass holders will be asked to fill out a survey.
When the pilot program is done, “Wayne County Airport Authority will be evaluating the use of the program, along with the airport’s cost to provide this service. We will also be reviewing the completed participant surveys,” said airport spokeswoman Lisa Gass.
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