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 (Yes, I was 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 (e.g. you are able to request permission to escort an unaccompanied minor to the gate).
THE GOOD OL’ DAYS ARE BACK?
In September 2019, TSA launched a pilot program at the Pittsburgh International (PIT) Airport that would allow non-ticketed passengers the ability to clear security, however, there were a quite a few restrictions.
Then in November 2018, Seattle Tacoma (SEA) Airport rolled out the same program.
Similarly, in April 2019, Tampa (TPA) Airport jumped on board and did the same.
Now, it looks like the program is picking up speed as another airport is testing this concept too. It is now possible to clear security at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne (DTW) Airport without a departure ticket.
The program is called “DTW Destination Pass,” and similar to the other airports, there are quite a few restrictions:
- Only available Tuesday through Sunday, 08:00 – 20:00PM (8A-8p)
- Limited to 75 people per day
- Visitors under 18 must be accompanied by an adult
- This is a pilot program expected to end 01/05/20 (though it can be extended)
- You need to apply for a pass the day before your visit CLICK HERE
- The day of your visit you’ll need to go to the McNamara Terminal baggage claim on the domestic arrivals level, between carousels two and three, and look for the “DTW Destination Pass” sign on the back wall and;
- You’ll need to present a valid US government issued photo ID
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, 75 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.
Personally, I don’t enjoy going through security when I actually have a flight so I’m not sure I would subject myself to that stress for the pleasure of walking with someone to their gate.
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?
What’s your take on the program? How often would you use this program? What are the advantages and disadvantages to this program?
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Did you know that in Australia, no boarding pass is required to go through security at domestic terminals?