Remember the good old days when a happy face was waiting for you as you exited your gate after a long flight?
In a post-9/11 world, it’s just not something we get to experience anymore. But a couple of U.S. airports are attempting to change that.
Following in Pittsburgh International Airport’s footsteps, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has launched a pilot program in which visitors will be able to greet their loved ones or see them off at their gate.
According to the Seattle Times, the SEA Visitor Pass program will give visitors who aren’t flying access to passenger-only areas, including airport restaurants and shops.
But the program has listed some guidelines.
For starters, only 50 people will be permitted each day. And they will have to sign up online before 1:30 p.m. the day before they plan to visit. They will then be notified by the Transportation Security Administration via email if they have been pre-approved.
Secondly, when the visitor arrives, he or she will need to pick up a pass at the airport with a photo ID.
Visitors will then have to go through the same security procedure as those who are actually traveling.
If you’re a frequent flyer and are already dreading how much longer the security lines might be, don’t fret. Port officials said wait times aren’t expected to increase.
In fact, a Pittsburgh airport representative reported there was no impact on wait times or security after they implemented visitors back into the flow of traffic past the TSA checkpoint.
According to Pittsburgh’s NPR News Station, about 100 people check in to visit the other side of security -- or airside -- each day at the Pittsburgh Airport — an airport that has about 8 million passengers each year.
“It seemed like something that was really important to this community,” Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis said. “We see young families out there during school hours. These are preschool kids, and it’s clear that they are going out to look at planes."
While Pittsburgh’s program is in full swing, Seattle’s is one that is still in a trial period.
Visitors will be permitted through Dec. 14, at which time the airport will survey visitors and look at responses to the program to see what, if any, changes need to be made.