TravelAirports Begin Loosening Restrictions on Non-Passengers
O'Hare is once again the nation's busiest airport in terms of total flights
O’Hare International Airport is once again the nation’s busiest in terms of total flights, surpassing Atlanta for the first time since 2014, according to federal data. O’Hare’s total flights last year topped 900,000 for the first time since 2007, the Federal Aviation Administration reported on Monday. The busiest days for flights at O’Hare occurred during June and July, and the busiest day was June 27, with 2,847 arrivals and departures. Total flights at Midway Airport were down compared to 2017. O’Hare also handled more than 83.4 million passengers last year, a 4.
The attacks of September 11, 2001 changed everything we knew about flying, including security. No longer could passengers without a ticket go to the gate.
No more escorting friends or family to the gate unless it was a special circumstance, no more grabbing a bite to eat at a restaurant on the other side of security checkpoints, no more taking the kids to a great vantage point to watch takeoffs and landings.
It’s been the norm for almost 18 years now.
But the new normal is starting to change a bit.
More U.S. airports are starting to relax their rules on non-passengers, but not necessarily back to an open forum such as non-ticketed passengers only needing to go through security to roam the airport. There are restrictions, of course, but the decision made by Tampa International Airport, Pittsburgh International and Seattle-Tacoma to loosen the rules is apparently setting a new standard.
American Airlines passengers can take helicopters to skip airport lines, traffic
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However, much of this is still in beta testing. Tampa, for instance, announced its plans last week, but the airport will only be open to non-ticketed guests once a week on Saturdays, and only to 100 people.
And those people must first apply online.
The method behind the madness is revenue. The chance to eat and shop at the myriad restaurants and high-end stores on the airside of security is likely to attract more visitors if they know they can access that part of the airport.
“Now families, foodies or even couples looking for a unique date experience can come try our chargrilled oysters at Ulele, sample locally brewed beer at Cigar City and shop for unique gifts and items at our duty-free and fine retail stores without having to buy a ticket,” Tampa International CEO Joe Lopano said in a statement.
Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport was world's busiest airport in 2018
New figures show that passenger air traffic grew an estimated six percent in 2018 to reach 8.8 billion compared to the previous year. That's according to Airports Council International, which this week published a new report on passenger traffic in 2018 and the latest ranking of the busiest airports in the world. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was, again, the world's busiest airport overall last year, handling more than 107 million passengers. The world's busiest airport for international passengers, meanwhile, was Dubai International Airport, which saw nearly 89 million flyers pass through.
In a more expanded interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Lopano said the sense of frustration held people back.
"The problem was, the people who were really excited about it said, 'Hey, wait a minute: I can't go out the airside to try out that restaurant. What's up with that?' ” he said. "To those feeling left out... we heard you.”
Pittsburgh ran a pilot program in 2017 and was successful enough to consider re-starting the program later this year.
Sea-Tac did its program in 2015 and is also considering bringing it back.
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