There may come a time when you need to get through security at an airport, but are not actually flying anywhere. There are a variety of reasons why you might need or want to do this, such as being at a gate to welcome family or to bring your spouse something they forgot before they board the plane. Whatever the reason, this article will tell you what you need to know to get a gate pass at the airport.
What you normally need to get through airport security
To get through airport security, aside from some patience, you really only need two things:
- A valid I.D. or driver’s license
- A boarding pass for your flight
There are many things you can’t bring through security though, and usually that’s really what you need to be more concerned with when going through airport security. Accidentally bringing an item that isn’t allowed can be a hassle, you may be stuck throwing something away or mailing it to yourself.
Can you get through airport security without a boarding pass?
Usually you need the two items above, but exceptions can be and are made. In most cases it’s only when there is good reason. Below is a list of common reasons why people might need to get a gate pass.
If you are simply worried about a child who is flying alone then an unaccompanied minor service is available for a fee at most major airlines. You may see people being pushed through terminals in wheelchairs or even riding gold carts, these services are provided by the airlines for people who can’t make it to their gates safely alone.
How to get a gate pass at the airport
- Fill out an air carrier authorization form for escorting someone to their gate.
- Getting a security pass at the ticket counter if picking someone up.
Common Reasons for wanting an airline gate passes:
Some of these reasons are valid reasons for getting through airport security without a boarding pass and most airlines will allow you to do so. There are a couple of reasons listed that aren’t considered important enough and while it would be nice, they probably aren’t going to get you through to see your loved one off or arrive.
Escorting the elderly or disabled
Sometimes elderly people have trouble walking long distances, aren’t able to walk without assistance, or simply get confused about where they’re supposed to go. Airlines provide wheelchair assistance services for disabled passengers.
Escorting a child flying alone
As mentioned above, when escorting a young child, you can apply for security clearance in order to escort your young traveller to their gate. Additionally, you can pay for a service where someone will accompany them on and off of their flights. Here is Delta’s unaccompanied minor program page.
Families of active military persons may greet them at their gates or see them off. The family must see their airline at the ticket counter when arriving and explain their situation, possibly provide proof, and they can receive their gate passes to get through airport security.
Here is a quote directly from the tsa.gov website:
Military Family Member Gate Passes – Family members who want to accompany a military service member being deployed to the boarding gate or greet them returning from deployment at the arrival gate may receive passes to enter the secure area of the airport. Interested military family members should contact their air carrier representative at the departure/arrival airport for proper local procedures. Remember, the family members will have to be screened through the TSA checkpoint just as if they were flying.tsa.gov
Escorting a spouse, loved one, or significant other to or from their gate
We would like to be able to do this sometimes, give someone a hug just before they board their flight or watch them walk out of the jet way and see that surprise on their face when they recognize you. Especially when picking someone up, many times I have gotten to the airport very early and would have loved to walk on to their gate.
In many cases this is just not a good enough reason and there are waiting areas in most airports where people are waiting for arrivals. Having said that, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try. If you know your arriving party’s airline, then just walk over and explain that you want to meet them at their gate and were hoping you could get a gate pass. The worst they can say is no. Keep in mind, this will never work for international flights due to customs.
Additionally you can call your airline ahead of time and inquire about their gate pass policy. If you want to be a little sneaky you could say it’s this persons birthday, you haven’t seen them in a long time, or something of that nature. Good luck!
Another way to get a gate pass
If the airline just isn’t cooperating with you and getting that gate pass is extremely important to you, then considering buying a fully refundable airline ticket and just getting your money back after it has served it’s purpose. To me though, this is a lot of trouble and I would most likely just skip the idea of the gate pass.
If you have a legit reason for needing a gate pass and not just a reason for wanting one, then you shouldn’t have trouble in getting one.