By Alison Fox
Nov 18, 2022
REMEMBER WHEN YOU COULD maximize the emotional impact of travel by having a tearful goodbye at the very last minute or showering your loved ones with affection as soon as they landed? An airport in California is stepping back in time to that halcyon pre-9/11 era when we were allowed to meet, greet, cry and goodbye at the gate.
The Ontario International Airport, which sits about 65 kilometers east of Los Angeles, is introducing a new program that allows non-travelers to secure an online visitor pass and go into the post-security side of the terminal, according to the airport. These non-travelers will then be able to either greet loved ones at the gate or hang out with them in the airport before they depart.
The ONT+ program will be free and can be used just like a ticket to pass through TSA security checkpoints.
“We all remember the excitement of being able to meet arriving family and friends as they get off the plane,” Dean Brown, the ONT Public Safety Administrator, said in a statement. “ONT+ is a way to bring back some of that experience from decades ago, in a safe and secure manner.”
To receive a pass, non-travelers will have to fill out an online application within seven days of their intended visit to the airport. Once approved, the pass will be emailed to them. Printed ONT+ visitor passes will not be accepted.
Non-travelers will be subject to the same TSA security rules as travelers, including not bringing large liquids with them. Currently, the ONT+ pass cannot be used with TSA PreCheck or Clear.
We’re certainly willing to leave our water bottles in the car for one last hug.
The Ontario International Airport is the latest airport to allow non-travelers to go to the gate. Seattle Tacoma Airport currently offers a SEA Visitor Pass, which allows non-ticketed passengers the chance to sign up to enter the secure side of the airport. Others, including Pittsburgh International Airport and Tampa International Airport, have tested similar programs in the past, but they have since been suspended.
All photos courtesy of Ontario International Airport.