Sharing some of the stories we’ve written recently for our friends over at The Points Guy site:
Airport gate pass programs are back
Before the pandemic, a handful of airports around the country offered gate pass programs that allowed non-ticketed visitors to join ticketed passengers on the security checkpoint lines and on the secure side of the terminals. Most of those programs were put on hold during the pandemic. But now they’re back. Find out more in our story here.
Reality Check: Private Jet Travel
Fly commercial first class is very swanky. Private jet travel is even more exclusive, but far more expensive at $5,000 to $6,000 per hour. You’ll need to do your homework before you book a trip. Especially now that many of the issues and problems facing commercial aviation – and the rest of the economy – are having an impact on private aviation as well. Here’s our story on private jet travel right now.
Art Fans On Display at PHL Airport
Philadelphia International Airport’s (PHL) newest art exhibition, “Fans of Homage,” features church-style-inspired fans made by Ife Nii Owoo. The fans, which have thick wooden handles and exquisitely decorated blades, are designed to heighten awareness of issues faced by Black Americans and are also a call for justice.
SEA recently joined the list of airports offering visitor passes to non-flying visitors. And so I signed up to find out what it is like to spend a day at the airport just hanging out with no flight to catch.
Signing up was easy: SEA’s Visitor Pass page walks applicants through the process. And once I got my email notice of approval, I had no trouble using my pass, with my ID, to get through the airport checkpoint.
There’s art throughout the airport – even in some bathrooms. And SEA’s art collection includes work by noted local, regional and national artists including Trimpin, Frank Stella, Louise Nevelson and Robert Rauschenberg.
On travel days, there’s not much time to stop and appreciate the art. But the visitor pass gave me time to look around.
After the art tour, I did some shopping. I didn’t have to worry about squeezing my purchases into my carry-on and that made it easier – maybe too easy – to make purchases.
Then it was time for lunch
Lots of fresh dining options are opening at SEA airport and it was nice to be able to look around and try someplace new.
Learning a new skill at the airport
SEA recently installed a Hands-Only CPR training kiosk in the Central Terminal. And so I used the final part of my visit to get trained in a skill that might someday help me save a life.
Randy Krause, the Fire Chief for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, was nice enough to come by and supervise my session. But the kiosk is designed as a do-it-yourself experience.
The machine gives instructions; users practice on a dummy torso, and the machine lets you know how you did.
I need some practice, and I need to be stronger. So next time I go to the airport I won’t be shy about trying it again.
Bottom line: applying for a SEA Visitor Pass and voluntarily spending much of a day hanging around the airport was a totally fun – and educational – way to spend a rainy day.
The pilot DTW Destination Pass program
at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) which allows non-ticketed
passengers past the security checkpoint began in October and was supposed to
end this week.
But so many non-ticketed visitors are
interested in visiting DTW airport to shop, dine, check out airplanes and spend
more time with friends and family starting or ending their travels that airport
officials have decided to keep the program going indefinitely.
“We understand that our facility is more than
just an airport—it is a place where memories are made,” said WCAA CEO Chad
Newton, “One participant of the program shared with us that she was able to
bring her 3-year-old nephew to the airport to greet his parents and see
airplanes for the first time.”
The DTW Destination Pass program is limited to 75 visitor passes per day. Passes can be used from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Check the DTW website for details about applying for a pass.
Where else can you get an airport gate pass?
DTW is just the latest airport to welcome non-ticketed passengers past the security checkpoint.
In December, Seattle-Tacoma International
Airport (SEA) brought back and made permanent the SEA Visitor Pass program, which
gives non-ticketed guests access to the secure side of the airport.
Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) started
the trend by introducing the myPITPass program in
August 2017. That program operates Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tampa International Airport (TPA) began
offering its All Access pass in April, 2019, welcoming guests on
And Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) began welcoming non-ticketed guests into the new terminal on December 4.
The MSY Guest Pass is offered seven days a week, with a limit of 50 visitors Monday through Friday and 100 visitors on Saturdays and Sundays.
Detroit Metro Airport now allows non-ticketed passengers to spend time on the post-security side of both the McNamara and North terminals.
The “DTW Destination Pass” program allows non-flying ing guests to come to the airport to shop, eat, check out the art, planes pot, people watch, escort a friend or family to their gate or be there when a loved 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 January 5,
Here’s how it works:
From Tuesday through Sunday, up to 75 non-ticketed passengers will be able to enter the secure side of both DTW terminals from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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.
Other airports invite non-ticketed visitors as well
While DTW’s Destination Pass is being piloted,
the gate-pass programs at Pittsburgh International Airport and Tampa
International Airport are permanent.
Pittsburgh International Airport kicked off the trend with the “myPIT Pass” program in August 2017. The program operates Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Non-ticketed passengers may apply for a pass by showing a U.S. government-issued photo ID at a special counter in the terminal.
Tampa International Airport (TPA) 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.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) tested a gate-pass program for a few weeks during the 2018 holiday season and had 1,1650 people take advantage of the program. The decision to bring back the program on a temporary or permanent basis is still under review.
According to Transportation Security Administration spokesperson 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.
(My story about airport gate passes first appeared on USA TODAY in a slightly differing form.)