Can You Go Through Airport Security Without A Ticket? – Complete Guidelines

Do I Need A Ticket To Enter The Airport

Last Updated on May 9th, 2024 by Renu Dahiya, Leave a Comment

If questions like –  ‘Can I go through security without a ticket/boarding pass or do I need a ticket to enter inside the airport’? keep crossing your mind, then you’ve landed at the right place. Here, we will dive into whether you need a ticket to hang out at the airport or if an airport visitor pass would be sufficient, can you go through security without a boarding pass, and in what situations can some passengers pass the airport security including the TSA even without a boarding pass! 

So, skim through this handy guide regarding the proceedings inside an airport to know everything in detail.

Can You Enter A Terminal Inside Airport Without A Ticket?

No, you cannot cross the airport security inside the airport and hang out in the airport terminal without a valid ticket or airport gate pass. Even if you want to drop off an unaccompanied minor or a person with a disability at an airport drop off area, you still need an airport escort pass from the airline. 

Could You Enter Inside The Airport Before COVID-19?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, you could usually go inside an airport’s main terminal and get to the check-in desks/luggage drop-off desks. It means that the non-passengers were allowed to accompany someone inside the airport, help them check in their bags, drop off at airport and leave just before they went through security. Some people also liked to purchase their airline tickets on the spot, which explains why airports let regular people enter the airport. 

Can We Enter Inside Of The Airport After The Pandemic? 

After Covid-19, situations have changed. Now, most of the airports don’t let anyone inside airport without a valid airline ticket to limit the number of people indoors. There is an additional checkpoint at the front inside of airport. 

Now, the next question is – ‘Can you buy tickets at the airport?’. Well, if you want to buy a ticket on the spot, you just have the option of using your phone. Hence, the airlines make sure that no man gets on plane without ticket for free! 

Do I Need A Boarding Pass To Get Through Security?

Yes, you are permitted to go through security or enter inside an airport if you are accompanying an elderly individual, a minor, or someone with disabilities, or if you are a military family member. Additionally, access may also be granted if you are entering one of the airports that provide hassle-free visitor passes without requiring a valid reason for the general public.Still wondering, “Can I go through security without a ticket?” Long ago, most airports allowed non-passengers to go through the security checkpoint without any issues. But, nowadays (after 9/11), you cannot go through airport security and circulate inside an airport terminal without a valid ticket or a boarding pass due to terror threats and security concerns. However, there are exceptions when non-passengers can pass airport security without a boarding pass. But, you will still need an escort or visitor pass at airport in these exceptional cases. We have explained these cases below.

When Can You Go Through Security Without A Boarding Pass Or A Ticket? 

In some cases, you’ll be allowed to pass through the security checkpoint and go to the gate without a boarding pass or an airline ticket, but you will not be able to board the aeroplane. However,  to pass the security, you’ll still have to follow all the security restrictions just like a regular passenger would. For example: the liquids can only be in bottles up to 3.4 oz (100 ml), avoid taking sharp or dangerous items in your bag or pockets, and so on.

Exceptional Cases That Don’t Require You To Have A Ticket 

  • Accompanying minors and children – Can a non ticketed passenger go through security? Well, If you want to accompany a child or a minor to the gate, you can apply for an escort pass. But, you will need to apply for the same a few days before the flight because sometimes the airlines want more information. They even may require a phone call and talk with one of the airline’s representatives. Hence, in most of the cases you cannot apply for visitor pass at airport itself.
  • Families of US Military Service Members – Can you go through TSA without a ticket if you have a US Military Service family member you want to accompany? Amazingly, you can always meet them at the airport gate or you can apply for a free airport Gate Pass. The TSA normally allows handing gate passes to Military Service family members. But, the procedures for applying the same are different for each airline and airport. Oh, and to bring a smile to your loved ones’ faces while they leave you, you can wish them some beautiful ‘Have a safe flight’ quotes and make their trip lovely.
  • Accompanying the elderly or people with special needs – Can you accompany someone to airport gate? Yes, You can apply for a gate pass if you want to accompany the elderly or people with special needs. This usually should be done several days before the departure by calling the airport’s representatives or emailing them. You can also find the gate pass application forms on the official website of the airport. 

Note – In the above cases, sometimes you might be denied an airport guest pass by the airport security. It is because sometimes the airline staff takes responsibility for the person you are accompanying and they will assign one of their employees to take care of them.

How To Get An Airport Gate Pass?

Wondering ‘Can you get through security without a boarding pass’? Some airports offer visitor pass programs that allow a limited number of visitors to go through the security checkpoint and navigate the airport freely, enjoy meals, and shop without any restrictions.

Can You Go Through TSA Without A Ticket? Can You Get A Gate Pass At The Airport?

Some of the airports in the USA want to boost their economic growth and revenue, thus they have introduced ‘Visitor Pass’ programs in the last few years which allow people without a valid ticket to enter the airport. People don’t even need to be accompanying anyone to get one. With these passes, you can do whatever you want to – shop in duty-free stores, access the airport lounges, dine in fancy restaurants, meet someone at the gates, or just experience the fast-paced atmosphere inside airports. 

Visitors are allowed to enter the airport only on specific timeframes and they still have to go through security to be scanned for dangerous goods. Wondering, how much is a gate pass at the airport? Amazingly, This is a free service, but there is a limited number of visitor passes that each airport hands out daily. You have to apply for the same at least 24 hours in advance, and you can do it on the official website of the airport by filling out a form and providing the required identification information.  

Airports That Allow You To Go Through The Security Checkpoint Without A Ticket Or Boarding Pass

Let’s take a look at the airports that have access programs or that handout gate pass airport  – 

Pittsburgh International AirportVisitors can enjoy at airport from Monday to Friday – 9 AM to 5 PM. Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh myPITpass program is currently temporarily suspended. How to go inside airport in such a case? The only way out is having a flight ticket! 
Seattle-Tacoma International AirportNon-passengers can apply for the SEA Visitor Pass up to 7 days in advance. The airport officials hand out up to 100 passes each day. And, the SeaTac visitor pass program is accessible every day from 8 AM to 10 PM.
Detroit Metropolitan AirportVisitors can apply for the DTW Destination Pass on the official website of the airport on the day prior to their visit. The airport has a limit of  75 passes per day available on Tuesdays through Sundays from 8 AM to 8 PM
Tampa International AirportThe visitor pass operates from 8 AM to 8 PM. It allows non-passengers with a pass to visit airside bars, restaurants & passengers’ waiting areas in terminal. However, the TPA All Access program has been temporarily suspended.
John Wayne AirportYou can apply for the Post Security Access Pass of the John Wayne Airport only inside the airport on the date of the visit. You can enter from 6 AM to 7 PM, but you must exit by 11 PM. You can bring only one personal item with you. 
Bishop International Airport in Flint, MichiganPeople can apply for the FNT Visitor Pass the day prior to their visit. This program is accessible Monday to Friday and welcomes non-passengers from 8 AM to 6 PM. You can apply only for one pass each month. 
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport The pass is available daily from 11 AM to 8 PM. You need to apply for it no less than 24 hours in advance of your visit. On weekdays, only 50 visitors are allowed and 100 on weekends. People get only one visitor pass each month. 

Can You Go Through TSA Without A Boarding Pass? 

With the coming of CAT Technology , many airports have changed their security systems for the good. Here, is a list of some of the many airports that don’t require you to show your boarding pass to the TSA to enter inside the airport. 

  1. Alaska’s Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC)
  2. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
  3. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)
  4. Bradley International Airport in Connecticut (BDL)
  5. Nashville International Airport (BNA)
  6. Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  7. Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR)
  8. Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)

Conclusion 

Non-passengers were able to navigate any airport they wanted before 2001 because it was very easy to get a gate pass from the airlines. But, post-2001, it became super hard to get through airport security without a valid airline ticket due to the terror attacks and safety concerns. 

Thinking, “Can I go through TSA without a ticket at present?” Nowadays, you can get through only if you’re accompanying a minor, the elderly, people with special needs, military service family member, or if you’re entering one of the few airports that offer visitor passes. Many of the airports are introducing visitor pass programs, which means that in the future, we might get through security very easily to access all the amenities and luxuries that airports have to offer without an airline ticket. 

Suggested Read: List of Biggest and Busiest Airports in the US

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can you go through TSA without a ticket or a boarding pass?

A: Definitely Not. You cannot cross the TSA security checkpoint without an airline ticket or a boarding pass. You can pass the security if you are accompanying minors, the elderly, or people with special needs. But, you will still need a gate pass. There are also some airports that offer visitor pass programs that will allow you to enter the airport terminal and explore it. 

Q: How far can you go to an airport if you don’t have a ticket?

A: If you are accompanying your family member or a friend and you don’t have an escort pass that allows you to pass to the gate, you can only go with that person to the check-in counter, and drop off the bags, but you cannot pass the security checkpoint.

Q: How to get an Escort pass at the airport?

A:   You can get your Escort or Gate Pass at the airport, at check-in counters, or at gate pass desks. You can simply visit the airport with your important documents , photographs and request for a pass.Some airport also offers the facility to apply for a gate pass online on their official websites.

Q: Why can you not go through airport security without a boarding pass?

A:   The security in airports used to be pretty lenient, but since 2001, it is been tightened to avoid terrorism threats. That is why people without boarding passes or valid tickets are not allowed to go through airport security. 

Q: How to apply for Seattle visitor pass?

A:   You can easily apply for Seatac guest pass online by visiting their official website atleast 7 days in advance. You can select the date as per your choice and move ahead with other important questions as per the online form. Once you get the TSA approval, you can show off your pass and enjoy the airport environment. 

Q: How to get a gate pass at the airport?

A: You can easily apply for a gate pass at the airlines ticket counter. Do not forget to carry your important official documents like a government-issued photo ID for the same. However, filling out an online application is less cumbersome and easier. 

Q: How to apply for United Airlines gate pass?

A: United gate pass are usually issued at the United ticket counter at the airport. You can also visit the United Airlines official website to have a look at all the proceedings to be carried out for getting a gate pass. 

Q: Can I buy a ticket at the airport after Covid?

A: The answer completely depends on the airline and airport you have chosen for your travel. In general, you can easily get a ticket at the airport, however, after covid, nothing can be said for sure. 

Q: Can I go through airport security without a ticket and apply for LAX gate pass?

A: Sadly, LAX is only open to airline passengers and there is no option of having a lax visitor pass. 

Q: Can I add TSA Precheck to Southwest airlines?

A: Yes, you can add TSA precheck to Southwest Airlines by simply updating your KTN or Precheck number.

We hope you get all the answers to your questions. If you still have doubts, let us know in the comment section below. We will try our best to resolve all your queries as soon as possible. 

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About Renu Dahiya | View Posts

Renu Dahiya is a passionate writer who worships her profession. Her love for writing has encouraged her to pursue her career as a writer. Her friends call her a “travel worm” and always come to her to know some interesting traveling tips and destinations. Renu is a repository of knowledge about traveling who knows which place should be visited in which season. Oh yes, she is insanely in love with dancing too. Writer, traveler and dancer, a perfect combination! Without a doubt, she is a complete package.

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