One of my fondest memories from childhood was going to Cleveland Hopkins Airport and having the ability to walk all the way to the arrival/departure gate to pick up my family when they came to visit.
I, distinctly, remember these experiences because Hopkins also had an outdoor observation deck that you could visit and, obviously, watch arriving and departing planes (AV geek even as a toddler).
At that time, you were able to have both of these experiences without having to go through security.
AND THEN 9/11
After 9/11, a lot of changes were made to airport security. One of the major changes was that only ticketed passengers with a departing flight were able to go past security. There were a few exceptions. For example, you are able to request permission to escort an unaccompanied minor to the gate.
THE GOOD OL’ DAYS ARE BACK?
About a year ago, TSA launched a pilot program at the Pittsburgh International Airport that would allow non-ticketed passengers the ability to clear security however there were a few restrictions.
It looks like another airport is testing this concept too. It is now possible to clear security at Seattle Tacoma Airport without a departure ticket.
They airport determined that it would run a trial program that would commence in the beginning of November 2018 and end on December 15, 2018. With a little less than a week to go, a post-evaluation will determine if the program will be permanent.
Again, there are a few restrictions:
- Only 50 people per day are eligible
- You will need photo ID
- The program is on available 8am-10pm, Tuesday through Sunday
- Interested individuals need to register online before 1:30pm the day before to be eligible
To be clear, individuals utilizing this program still have to go through security but you don’t have to have a ticket to do so.
I don’t think those requests are too unreasonable. However, 50 people doesn’t seem like a lot of people but then again I’m not sure how many people would take advantage of this opportunity. I don’t enjoy going through security when I actually have a flight. Would I want to subject myself to that stress just so I can walk with someone to their gate? I’ll have to think about that. (And have you seen the airport parking rates. Ouch!)
I think this could be a great initiative. However, I can see a few complications that may arise if the program is expanded. For example, what happens if the number is expanded from 50 to 1000? Or expanded to everyone? TSA lines are already long. Are they going to be longer now?
Many international hub airports are extremely congested (EWR, ORD, ATL, LAX, etc.) Is allowing non-ticketed passengers access to the secured airside creating more congestion?
How often would you use this program? What are the advantages and disadvantages to this program?
p.s. I am not a spokesperson nor do I have any financial ties to this restaurant but I would be remiss not to mention ‘Floret.’ I look forward to eating at Floret when I fly to SeaTac. They serve exclusively vegetarian and vegan dishes made from scratch on site with locally sourced ingredients and it is DeLiCiOuS!!!
H/T: View From The Wing