Following a similar move at Pittsburgh airport last year, friends and family will now be able to greet passengers at their gate in Seattle for the first time since 9/11.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) has become the second U.S. airport in a little more than a year to allow non-ticketed visitors to go through security. The move harkens back to a time prior to the September 11 terror attacks when the ability to do so at the country’s airports was commonplace. (Those days feel like such a distant memory now, don’t they?)
Last August, Pittsburgh International Airport became the first in the country post-9/11 to allow the public to access shops and restaurants beyond security without possessing an airline ticket. Now, Sea-Tac has followed suit with its new SEA Visitor Pass pilot program, which officially launched earlier this month.
The pilot program will run through December 14, during which time the Port of Seattle, which oversees the airport, will determine whether to instill the program permanently.
“Some of the airport’s best features are [beyond security]: great restaurants, local musicians performing in the concourses, and some of the best views of the planes coming and going against the backdrop of Mount Rainier and the Olympics,” stated Port of Seattle commissioner Ryan Calkins.
Calkins noted that now that the program is in place, the Port of Seattle will be able to better gauge whether this is an option the public actually wants.
Currently, the program is limited to 50 visitors per day, and the option for visitors to go past security only applies to domestic terminals. Those interested must apply online before 1:30 p.m. PST the day before they want to visit the airport. Visitors must be approved by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and will be notified of their approval status by midnight the day before they have requested to enter.
Enrollment is available Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and entrance to the post-security side of the terminal is allowed from Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Approved visitors will go through standard security screening, so any security requirements for regular passengers will also be applied to visitors (minus the need for a boarding pass), including presenting a valid identification. Sea-Tac recommends that visitors arrive two hours prior to when they would like to be at the gates, to allow time to pick up their pass (at the Employee Screening Checkpoint located at the airport baggage claim level, behind carousel 9) and to get through security. Visitors are asked to only bring a small personal item with them, which will be screened at security.