After 9/11 a lot of changes were made to airport security. One of those changes was that only ticketed passengers could clear security in the US, meaning that it’s generally no longer possible to clear security if you don’t have an outbound boarding pass.
Some airlines will issue you a gate pass if you’re seeing off a family member, are a lounge member and want to meet someone there, etc., but as a general rule you can’t clear security if you’re not flying.
This is in stark contrast to other parts of the world — for example, in Australia there’s no boarding pass required to go through security at domestic terminals.
Some Airports Now Let Non-Passengers Clear Security
Over the past couple of years we’ve seen some US airports allow non-ticketed passengers go through security. There are always some restrictions associated with it, but it’s a nice concept in theory. So far we’ve seen this at three major US airports:
- In September 2017, this was rolled out at Pittsburgh Airport
- In November 2018, this was rolled out at Seattle Tacoma Airport
- In April 2019, this was rolled out at Tampa Airport
Now you can add another airline to the list.
Detroit Airport Now Lets You Clear Security When Not Flying
It’s now possible to clear security at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport if you’re not flying. This new program launched today and is called “DTW Destination Pass,” and it has some restrictions associated with it:
- This is only available every Tuesday through Sunday from 8AM until 8PM
- It’s limited to 75 people per day
- Visitors under 18 must be accompanied by an adult
- This is a pilot program that’s expected to end on January 5, 2020, though it can always be extended
- You need to apply for a pass the day before your visit at this link
- 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
- You’ll need to present a valid US government issued photo ID
I can’t imagine that many people will take advantage of this opportunity. While seeing off a loved one sounds nice in theory, having to register in advance, go through security, pay for parking, etc., adds a bit of a barrier to doing so.
Still, I think overall this is a great initiative. People will generally only want to go airside if they really want to spend some extra time with their friends or family, whether it’s because there’s an unaccompanied minor, a senior, they haven’t seen a loved one for a very long time and want to surprise them, or what not.
Would you like to see the TSA expand airside access for non-ticketed passengers?