Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport Now Open to Public Access — But…

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport — in cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration — now allows the public to access shops and restaurants beyond the security checkpoint of the terminal without requiring the purchase of an airline ticket effective as of Tuesday, October 22, 2019…

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport Now Open to Public Access — But…

…but at the present time, access is only available on Tuesdays through Sundays between 8:00 in the morning and 8:00 in the evening with a DTW Destination Pass, which is limited to 75 people per day airside and with one airside per visit — and because access is on a first come, first serve basis, registering early the day before you want to arrive may help ensure that you are approved for access.

This pilot program runs for 60 days — meaning that it may only be in effect through Saturday, December 14, 2019 — but it could end before that date at the discretion of Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. The goal of this program is to study how additional non-traveling visitors in the terminal could impact the current level of service from parking availability to wait times for screening by agents of the Transportation Security Administration — and if all goes well, that could change in the future.

DTW Destination Pass cannot be used with either Clear or TSA Pre✓. Visitors participating in the DTW Destination Pass program are only permitted to meet passengers who are arriving on domestic flights or reconnecting on another flight.

Visitors who are younger than 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.

This services and amenities guide gives you a list of the options which you can enjoy while visiting the airport — including shopping and dining.

The process for reservations for a DTW Destination Pass and checking in are as follows:

  1. To apply for the program, complete the registration form between 8:00 in the morning and 8:00 in the evening Mondays through Saturdays on the day before you want to visit by typing in your full legal name — exactly as it appears on your passport or driver’s license — as well as your date of birth, and complete any other required fields.
  2. Check your e-mail account, as you will receive an e-mail confirmation message once you have registered — and on the morning of your planned visit, you will receive a follow-up e-mail message notifying you of your approval status and providing detailed instructions.
  3. Once approved, arrive at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and give yourself enough time to park your vehicle, pick up your DTW Destination Pass, and submit to passenger screening — be sure that you bring the same photographic government identification which you used to register — and remember that minors younger than the age of 18 must be accompanied by the sponsoring adult.
  4. Follow the instructions on your approval e-mail message to pick up your DTW Destination Pass at the McNamara Terminal; and report to the designated passenger screening checkpoint of the Transportation Security Administration with your approved DTW Destination Pass and identification.
  5. Other important details:
    1. You will be subject to the same security regulations as passengers boarding an aircraft. Please review the list of items which are prohibited by the Transportation Security Administration.
    2. The application will display a notification if the quota has been met for the day — and if so, you can try again another day using the same application process the day before you want to enter.
    3. Additional information and answers to questions which are frequently asked are provided here.

Other Airports Which Have Offered Public Access in the Past Two Years

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport is the latest airport to offer public access to people who are not ticketed passengers.

Pittsburgh International Airport became the first airport in the United States to allow the public to access shops and restaurants beyond the security checkpoint without requiring an airline ticket between the hours of 9:00 in the morning through 5:00 in the evening Monday through Friday every week all year round as of Tuesday, September 5, 2017.

Tampa International Airport now allows the public to access shops and restaurants beyond the security checkpoint of the terminal without requiring the purchase of an airline ticket effective as of Saturday, May 4, 2019 — but at the present time, access is only available on Saturdays between 8:00 in the morning and 8:00 in the evening with a TPA All Access Pass, which is limited to 25 people per airside and with one airside per visit; but if all goes well, that could change in the future.

Seattle–Tacoma International Airport began to allow the public to access shops and restaurants beyond the security checkpoint of the terminal without requiring the purchase of an airline ticket from Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8:00 in the morning through 9:00 in the evening with the SEA Visitor Pass — but that was a pilot program which ended on Friday, December 14, 2018. During the trial period, 1,165 visitors enrolled in the program. “The airport team is currently evaluating the program results and participant feedback and will make a decision sometime in 2019 on whether to continue the program”, according to this announcement at the official Internet web site of the SEA Visitor Pass program. “Stay tuned for more information!”

Summary

I have long stated that I believe that a number of security measures which were implemented at airports across the country after the events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 occurred are superfluous at best and give the arguably false impression that airports are much safer than before that infamous day.

Programs such as the ones in Detroit, Tampa, Seattle and Pittsburgh allow airports to be more accessible. Although I am all for programs of this type — which would allow merchants at businesses within the airport to potentially increase profits while people can spend more time with loved ones at the gate or elsewhere in the secure areas of the airport — problems can possibly occur: on certain days such as holidays, where do people who are not traveling on that day park their vehicles when parking facilities are already full with no empty parking spaces; and will the airports themselves become significantly more crowded?

I am glad to see this program being introduced at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport — even if it is only on Tuesdays through Sundays between 8:00 in the morning and 8:00 in the evening — and I hope that it will be considered at additional airports across the United States.

A tram passes by overhead at Detroit International Airport. Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

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