Airport Security Crackdown

During the spat of airport security crackdowns someone (the FAA?) decided that non-ticketed visitors had no right to go to the gates. No boarding pass, no access to the gate area. So what’s the deal? If they go through security what difference whether they have a boarding pass or not? Maybe they want to spend all of their hard earned money on airport food.

So why did they decide that you can’t go to the gate at an airport without a boarding pass? What was their logic?

It’s because the system is capacity driven, and if they’re searching people who aren’t getting on the planes, they have less time to search people who are.

Back before 9/11, they didn’t have all this security limiting who and what could get through to the gates. Now, as Bill Door said, since they have all this security, they don’t want to waste it on people that don’t need to get through to the gates.

“Oh, I’m not flying on any plane. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.”

Okay. That makes sense. I have noticed that a few people seem to be able to get past security to the gate, for example to meet a minor that has just arrived, but these must be specific exceptions to the rule…

In a situation like that, you can go to the ticket counter and give them the name and flight number of the person you are assisting. They will give you a pass to go through security to the gate area. I do this from time to time when I pick up my daughter and her two small children at the airport.

I can’t recall any other country except the US pre 9-11 where unticketed passengers can get to the gate area… thinking… thinking… nope.

Not all airports allowed non-ticked passengers beyond the security checkpoint even before 9-11. I know the Southwest Florida International Airport kept all non-passengers outside the secure areas, more for crowd control than anything else. Until a new terminal opened a couple of years ago, the concourses were terribly crowded even with the passengers, and if there were a phalanx of family and friends at the end of each gate when the planes came in, it would have taken an hour to get from security to the gate.

Australia and New Zealand are two that used to let people through to the gate and still do.

I thought New Zealand might, but wasn’t sure. I do recall not passing through any xray or security check at all for a dawn flight from Christchurch to Palmerston North in December 1996, but they did check tickets of course. There were only 7 or 8 passengers and nobody brought anyone along to see them off.

The same for me back in 1997 or 1998. I flew from Rotorua to Auckland without passing through metal detectors or having my bag X-rayed.

The Amsterdam airport has a rather unusual setup. I recently flew from there to Hartford, and the security checks and baggage screening were done at the gate. They gave you the little interrogations, and had an x-ray machine right there. After you were screened, you went into a secondary waiting room, then transferred to the bus to the plane. I would think that was not a very efficient use of resources, but I guess it works for them.

I don’t recall if they checked your boarding pass anywhere before that… all the airports blur together.

I flew a lot on domestic flights in Australia before 9/11, and there was very little security apart from checking your ticket or boarding pass before you went to the aircraft. This includes some quite small airports where the gate was just that – a gate in the fence separating the tarmac from the area around the terminal building.

Many countries had been forced to implement greater security due to terrorist threats (or rather actual incidents) long before 9/11, so the same cost-driven reasons for stopping inessential demand on the system would have applied at an earlier date. It also makes sense that Australia and New Zealand could escape the worst of this.

At least as of the last time I flew through there (1994), Kansas City International did something similar. It’s a set of three semi-circular terminals buildings, none of them with even a place to put a centralized security checkpoint. Each waiting area had its own screening station.

Wonder what they’re doing now at MCI… I would think that an arrangement like that would be cost-prohibitive in this brave new world. Any Kansas City dopers who can say if that’s still how it’s done?

You know, I was just about to say that there are no specific exceptions and that anyone can get a gate pass if you just go up to the counter and ask them. My wife and I have done it several times with no issue. In fact I just did it like an hour ago to wait with my wife for her plane.

I just tried to find a cite for you to prove that all you need to do is go to the counter with your ID and ask for a “gate pass”. Instead, I found that “military families” is an exception to the rule. I didn’t even think there was a rule. Turns out we’ve been getting gate passes with no issues because we’ve been presenting our military IDs when asking for them. I had no idea.

Learn something new everyday I guess.

At Chicago O’Hare International you can still ride the tram all the way over to gate 6, the international terminal and at least get to the portion of the airport that has bars and resturants without having any ticket or boarding pass. Thankfully, since when my brothers come in from out of country it’s nice to have somewhere to waste a little time when the flights get delayed.

I wonder if this is to do with Schipol very much being designed and used as an international hub. As transfers are done airside, they perhaps want to ensure that any passenger who started a journey in any of dozens of countries has been put through their own security system before getting onto a departing plane?

There was an issue when the no-liquids nonsense started to be implemented, that items purchased airside at other airports, and sealed into supposedly accepted ‘security’ clear bags, were then being confiscated when passengers transferred at Amsterdam. Apparently only Amsterdam’s bags were secure. :rolleyes:

Airlines set the rules as to whom gate passes are issued. To further that, it’s also dependent on policies in place at the local airport. Our policy as a whole is to issue gate passes to a parent of a minor flying alone, someone assisting an elderly or handicapped family member, etc. This works just fine in some airports; in others, TSA and the airport authority have told us nope, minors must be escorted by airline employees past security and passengers needing assitance must be taken down by an airline employee. It can become quite confusing, but to echo what was said above, it’s about capacity control. TSA has a reputation for being extraordinarily slow already; if we throw in everyone’s friends and family, as well, no one would ever make their flight.

There must also be a certain amount of case-by-case discretion, if my personal experience is any guide.

A couple of months ago, I took my girlfriend to the airport, and found that her flight had been delayed by several hours. We left and killed some time bumming around town. Then we went back to the airport and found that her flight had been delayed again. It was now later in the evening, which limited our bumming-around options. We asked one of the security people: Is there a restaurant anywhere in the airport on this side of security that’s still open? The guy said no, but how about this instead: go explain the situation to the counter agent, and ask for a pass so your boyfriend can accompany you to the gate and sit in a bar with you. We did, and we got the pass. At the security checkpoint, the TSA drone examined my pass, looked me over, glanced at my girlfriend, and said to me: “What are you, her bodyguard?” I smiled and shrugged, and he let me through.

Basically, they took mercy on us. :smiley: