US Airports Welcome Only Non-Travellers

Certain US airports offer access to non-travellers, enhancing the airport experience for visitors and greeters. This policy allows individuals accompanying passengers to enjoy airport amenities and ease the travel process. Explore the airports that provide this welcoming approach. 

US Airports Welcome Only Non-Travellers

Like the good old days, you can now go to the gate again

Remember when you could accompany a friend or family member all the way to their airport gate and wave goodbye as they boarded their flight? That hasn't been possible since security was heightened after 9/11. 

But starting November 1, Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is bringing back the old days with its new Wingmate program. Wingmate allows some non-travelers to apply for passes to access the post-security areas of the domestic terminal.

Philadelphia isn't the only airport reviving this pre-9/11 practice. Tulsa, Detroit, Seattle and New Orleans are among the other American airports with similar escort programs.

This is great news for anyone who wants to surprise their loved one with a romantic airport proposal.

Economic and Commercial Activities

US airports are major economic centres, and non-travelers play a significant role in supporting their economies. Non-travelers include locals who live or work near airports, as well as tourists who visit airports without flying.

Non-travelers contribute to the airport economy by patronising businesses and services located within and around the airport. 

These businesses include:

  • Shops and restaurants
  • Car rental companies
  • Hotels
  • Parking garages
  • Conference and event centres
  • Ground transportation providers
  • Other service businesses

These businesses provide employment opportunities for local residents and generate revenue for the airport and the local community.

According to a study, in 2019, non-travelers accounted for 24% of all spending at US airports. This spending totaled $22.2 billion and supported over 340,000 jobs.

Non-travelers also contribute to the airport economy by paying fees for services such as parking and ground transportation. These fees generate revenue that helps to fund airport operations and improvements.

Observation and Spotting Areas

Many US airports offer designated observation areas or spotting locations where people can watch planes take off and land. These areas are often located near runways and taxiways, and they provide a unique opportunity to get up close to aircraft and see them in action.

Observation and spotting areas are popular with aviation enthusiasts and the general public alike. They offer a fun and educational way to learn about aviation and to see different types of aircraft from all over the world.

Here are some of the benefits of observation and spotting areas at US airports:

  • They foster an interest in aviation and educate the public about the aviation industry.
  • They provide a unique opportunity to get up close to aircraft and see them in action.
  • They are a fun and educational activity for people of all ages.
  • They can help to reduce boredom and stress for travellers who have long layovers.
  • They can be a great place to take photos and videos of aeroplanes.

Access to Airport Services

Many US airports offer a variety of services that are accessible to non-traveling individuals, such as local residents and business professionals. These services may include:

  • Airport lounges: Many airports offer airport lounges to travellers who have a Priority Pass membership or who are flying on certain airlines. However, some airports also allow non-traveling individuals to access their lounges by paying a fee.
  • Conference facilities: Many airports have conference facilities that can be rented by businesses and organisations for meetings, events, and other gatherings.
  • Business meetings: Many airports have designated areas where business travellers can meet with clients or colleagues, such as coffee shops, restaurants, and conference rooms.
  • Transportation options: Most airports offer a variety of transportation options, such as airport shuttles, car rentals, and taxis. These transportation options are accessible to both travellers and non-travelers.

To access services at a US airport, non-traveling individuals may need to meet certain requirements, such as having a valid government-issued ID or paying a fee. It is important to check with the airport in advance to learn more about their specific requirements for non-traveling individuals.

Emergency and Community Services

Airports often play a crucial role in emergency and disaster response. They are major transportation hubs, and they can be used to evacuate people from disaster areas or to bring in aid and relief supplies. Airports also have their own emergency services, such as fire departments, medical facilities, and law enforcement, to ensure the safety and well-being of both travellers and non-travelers.

Here are some examples of how US airports are involved in emergency and community services:

  • Emergency response: Airports can be used as staging areas for emergency response teams and supplies. For example, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans International Airport was used as a staging area for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other emergency response teams.
  • Medical facilities: Many airports have medical facilities that can provide care to both travellers and non-travelers. For example, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has a Level 1 trauma centre, which is the highest level of trauma centre certification.
  • Law enforcement: Airports have their own law enforcement agencies that are responsible for security and public safety. For example, the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) is responsible for security at airports and other facilities in the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.


Which US airports welcome non-travellers?

Several US airports permit non-travellers to access certain areas, typically with proper identification.

What is the purpose of allowing non-travellers in airports?

The primary reason is to accommodate visitors, greeters, and those accompanying passengers to enhance the overall airport experience.

How can non-travellers access secured areas in airports?

Non-travellers usually need to go through security screening and comply with airport regulations and guidelines.

What should non-travellers be aware of when visiting airports?

Non-travellers must follow all airport rules, including security measures, and respect passenger privacy.

Are there restrictions on where non-travellers can go inside airports?

Non-travellers may have access to specific areas, such as terminals and waiting areas, while restricted from certain security-sensitive zones.

Do airports charge fees for non-traveller access?

Some airports may charge fees for non-traveller access to lounges or other services.

Can non-travellers meet arriving passengers at the gate?

Regulations may vary by airport, but some do allow non-travellers to accompany passengers to their gates.

Are there any changes in non-traveller policies due to security concerns?

Airport policies may change in response to security requirements and evolving circumstances.

Where can I find more information about non-traveller policies at specific airports?

For specific details and updates, it is advisable to check the official websites of the respective airports or contact authorities directly.