Tampa International Airport

Tampa Int’l Airport expands gate pass program

TPA’s All Access program goes daily

The Saturday-only gate pass program that Tampa International Airport (TPA) launched in May is going so well that starting January 18 the airport will being offering non-ticketed visitors access to the airside terminals every day of the week.

Why go to the airport if you don’t have to?

In addition to accompanying a friend or loved one to the gate or being there when they get home, a gate pass to an airside at Tampa International Airport offers the chance to plane spot, dine in one of the airport’s top-notch restaurants or shop in the stores.

Not sure what’s there? TPA has a handy dining and shopping guide on its website.

TPA’s All Access program operates from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and issues passes to 25 people per airside each day. (Each airside – A, C, E and F – has its own security checkpoint).

Visitors may sign up online 24 hours in advance and, if approved, go to the Information Kiosk on Level 3 of the Main Terminal on the day of their visit to show a photo ID and pick up their pass. After that, visitors go through the security checkpoints at their chosen Airside, just like regular ticketed passengers.

As we’ve reported before, airport visitor pass programs are definitely now a trend. Non-ticketed passengers can apply to visit Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), the still-shiny-new Louis Armstrong International Airport (MSY) and Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW).

No doubt other airports will begin offering gate pass programs soon too!

Detroit Metro Airport gate pass program permanent

Courtesy Detroit Metro Airport

Gate pass programs expanding

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.

Art at SEA airport

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 Saturdays.

Photo La Gourmetreise, Courtesy New Orleans & Company

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.

Safe travels to all from Stuck at The Airport

Holiday elf

If, like us, you’ll be traveling on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, be sure to watch out for elves, Santas of all stripes, and lots of other travelers hoping to get where they need to go for the holiday.

If you need a few extra gifts, keep in mind too that lots of airport shops open early and close late – even on Christmas Day – and many have some pretty cool gifts all wrapped and ready to go.

To help you out, Tampa International Airport and several others have even put together holiday gift guides.

And don’t forget NORAD

On Christmas Eve you can follow along as Santa makes his way through the skies and down the chimneys via NORAD’s Santa Tracker.

Visit the New Orleans Airport without a ticket

Gate pass program at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

As promised, the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) is joining the list of airports that invite and allow non-ticketed guests airside, past security to shop, dine, listen to live music and spend more time with friends and family leaving for trips or coming home.

The free MSY Guest Pass program kicks off December 4 and will be available seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.  MSY officials say the airport will issue no more than 50 passes on weekdays and no more than 100 passes each Saturday and Sunday.

Anyone seeking an MSY Guest Pass will need to sign up 24 hours in advance and provide their full name, date of birth and contact information. Visitors under 18 will need to be accompanied by an adult.

Pass holders must still pass through the security checkpoint and all pass holders will be limited to one visit per month.

Leah’s Kitchen at MSY

MSY is justifiably proud of its shiny new terminal, which has branches of local shops such as Dirty Coast and Fleurty Girl and restaurants from award-winning chefs, including Emeril Lagasse, John Folse, Michael Gullotta, Susan Spicer, and the late Leah Chase and her family.

We expect more airports to join this trend, but for now just a few other airports offer gate passes to non-ticketed guests: Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) has the MyPITpass program and Tampa International Airport (TPA) offers an All Access gate pass program.

Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) is testing a gate pass program now through January 5.

Have you applied for a gate pass at one of these airports? If so, tell us how it worked.

Travel Tidbits from an airport near you

Free paletas at LAX

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is celebrating Latino Heritage Month with a wide variety of cultural performances, art and guest experiences, including complimentary tastings.

Today, Friday, Sept 20 there will be a cart with free paletas (Mexican popsicles) in Terminal 1 near the L.A. Original store from noon to 3 p.m.

Next Friday, Sept. 27, the cart will be in Terminal 2, next to Barney’s Beanery, from noon to 3 p.m. And on Friday, Oct. 4, free paletas will be offered in the Terminal 6 W Kitchen Food Court from noon to 3 p.m.

TPA has a special drink

This may be a first: Tampa International Airport (TPA) has a airport-wide, signature cocktail.

On September 13, TPA rolled out The Spirit of Flight, a signature cocktail that is now available at all restaurants and bars airport-wide.

The one-of-a-kind cocktail is a blend of guava, white rum and orange and is meant to give travelers a taste of Tampa Bay.

To come up with the perfect drink, TPA called in mixologists from Ulele, Mise en Place and Cigar City Brewing – three of Tampa Bay’s well-known concepts.

“We wanted to create a drink that would represent the area,” said Ulele Manager Phil Cacciatore, who helped craft the drink. “We wanted guests to think ‘Wow this is unique.’”

Guests who order the drink will receive a Spirit of Flight coaster with the ingredients listed on the back, so whenever they see it, they’re reminded of their trip to Tampa.

The drink is also available in non-alcoholic version.

Here are the ingredients and mixing instructions in case you’d like to try this at home.

2 oz Guava Nectar

1 tbsp Guava Marmalade

1 oz Florida Orange Juice

1.50 oz White Rum

0.50 oz Orange Liqueur

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Shake all ingredients and strain over ice into a Collins glass.

Garnish with a slice of orange and mint leaf.