Detroit airport terminal

Detroit Airport Becomes Third in U.S. To Offer Terminal Access to Non-Ticketed Visitors

People who want to wait inside terminals for a loved one to arrive can now do so after going through the same security procedures as ticketed passengers.

Three airports across the United States now allow individuals to go through security and visit certain terminals without having plane tickets. 

As of Tuesday, the Detroit Metro Airport has joined the Pittsburgh International Airport and Tampa International Airport in allowing some people to come to the airport to shop, eat and, perhaps most commonly, wait for someone to arrive or escort a loved one to their gate.

People who want this perk will have to register the day before their visit to the airport through the Detroit airport website. Once they arrive at the airport, visitors will follow the same security procedures as passengers with tickets.

From Tuesday through Sunday, the DTW Destination Pass program will be available to 75 visitors per day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at both the McNamara and North terminals. In a statement, the Wayne County Airport Authority said that it gives visitors the ability to enjoy the airport’s amenities.

“Last year, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) amended its regulations, giving airports more flexibility when allowing non-ticketed visitors into the gate area," the authority said. 

The pilot will end on Jan. 5, but the airport could extend the program after evaluating how it is used and its cost to provide the service, authority spokeswoman Lisa Gass told The Detroit Free Press.

Some travelers were worried that the addition of 75 people per day could extend wait times in security lines, but Gass said that the airport does not anticipate the program “adversely impacting our traveling customers.”

“However, during peak departure times, priority in the checkpoint line will be given to ticketed passengers catching flights,” Gass said. “Issuance of passes may be suspended during these times.”

Gate-pass programs are already permanent in Pittsburgh and Tampa, USA TODAY reported. In 2017, Pittsburgh was the first airport to offer the non-ticketed visitor program and allows people to apply in person at a special counter in the terminal. In April, Tampa introduced its own program and limits the amount of non-ticketed guests to 25 people per airside. The program is also only available on Saturdays.

Seattle piloted a similar program in 2018 and is still deciding whether or not to bring it back on a temporary or permanent basis, according to USA TODAY. Airports must submit formal proposals to the TSA to amend their security plans before moving ahead with pilot programs, according to a TSA spokeswoman. The idea has picked up new momentum in 2019 and could expand to more airports next year.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.


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