Detroit Metro Is The Latest Airport To Allow Non-Ticketed Passengers Inside Departure Area Under “DTW Destination Pass”

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Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) has started a new program called DTW Destination Pass under which a set number of people daily are allowed to enter the sterile area for personal purposes.

With the authorization individuals will be TSA screened like regular passengers and can then engage in shopping, dining, watch the aircraft or simply send a loved one off to the gate.

Airports have in recent years attempted to turn back to allowing non-ticketed passengers into the departure area as it was common pre-9/11 but subsequently abandoned due to obvious security concerns.

Mostly the argument is that airport operators want to drive revenue in their terminals, allowing non passengers to come and shop there – but is this really a feasible scenario?

As the USA Today reported the program in Detroit will be limited to 75 (!!) people per day.

Starting Tuesday Detroit Metro Airport will allow non-ticketed guests to spend time on the post-security side of both the McNamara and North terminals.

The “DTW Destination Pass” program allows non-flyers to come to the airport to shop, eat, check out the art, plane spot, people watch, escort a friend or family to their gate or be there when a loved one deplanes.

“The new regulations allow us to expand our gate pass program that already exists for our Westin hotel guests,” said Wayne County Airport Authority CEO Chad Newton in a statement, “Now we can welcome more community members into our home to create memorable moments – from watching planes to greeting family and friends.”

DTW’s Destination Pass program isn’t permanent (yet) but is being piloted through the holidays with an end date of Jan. 5, 2020. …

Up to 75 non-ticketed passengers a day will be able to enter the secure side of both DTW terminals from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.

Visitors will need to apply for a pass through the DTW website the day before their planned visit. Applicants will get an email notification letting them know if the application has been approved. If approved, detailed instructions will be sent electronically.

Pass holders will need to go through the same security screening as all other passengers going through the security checkpoints. During peak checkpoint times, passengers heading to flights will get priority over pass holders at the checkpoints. …

While DTW’s Destination Pass is being piloted, the gate-pass programs at Pittsburgh International Airport and Tampa International Airport are permanent.

PIT kicked off the trend with the “myPIT Pass” program in August 2017. The program operates Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Non-ticketed visitors may apply for a pass by showing a U.S. government-issued photo ID at a special counter in the terminal.

The Tampa airport introduced its TPA All Access Pass in April 2019. TPA’s pass allows non-ticketed guests who apply at least 24 hours in advance to visit one of four airside areas of the airport each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is a limit of 25 people per airside.

I can see the point of sending friends and family to the gate under certain circumstances but are there really any shops or restaurants inside the airport that would make it worthwhile to travel there, pay for parking which is usually expensive at an airport and then stroll through the terminal after subjecting to TSA security measures?

For all intends and purposes you can access he DTW Destination Pass program here if interested.

✈ Apply for a DTW Destination Pass the day prior to your visit by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page. You will receive an email stating if you’re approved.

✈ If approved, go to the McNamara Terminal Baggage Claim on the domestic arrivals level, between Carousels #2 and #3. Look for the “DTW Destination Pass” sign on the back wall.

✈ Present a valid U.S. government-issued photo ID (driver’s license or passport) to obtain your DTW Destination Pass*.

✈ Those participating in the DTW Destination Pass program are subject to the same security screening regulations as passengers boarding a plane. All items prohibited in carry-on baggage, including liquids, aerosols and gels, apply to everyone using the DTW Destination Pass for access. Please review the list of TSA prohibited items.

✈ The TSA or Wayne County Airport Authority reserves the right to revoke the DTW Destination Pass from any individual who may pose a security risk, a risk to any passengers or customers, and/or violates any of the rules and regulations of the airport.

This is the form to fill out in order to apply for the pass:


Time will tell if this program will ever be made permanent as it has been done at other airports and what purpose it will serve eventually.

Airlines have in the past often issued so called “gate passes” to individuals who wish to accompany family members to the departure gate. Nowadays this has been cut back on and is mostly being done for guardians of unaccompanied minors who will be flying alone or for military families.

Based on the factors I mentioned above I think the retail argument is a dead end. This leaves two target groups: Airport/aviation enthusiasts and those who wish to bring their loved ones to the plane.