This California Airport Will Allow Non-travelers to Meet Loved Ones at the Gate

Introducing the ONT+ program.

An airport in California is stepping back in time to an era when family and loved ones were allowed to meet travelers at the gate.

The Ontario International Airport, which sits about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, will introduce a new program that allows non-travelers to secure an online visitor pass and access the post-security side of the terminal, according to the airport. These non-travelers will then be able to either greet loved ones at the gate or hang out with them before they depart.

The ONT+ program will be free and can be used just like a ticket to pass through TSA security checkpoints.

“We all remember the excitement of being able to meet arriving family and friends as they get off the plane,” Dean Brown, the ONT Public Safety Administrator, said in a statement. “ONT+ is a way to bring back some of that experience from decades ago, in a safe and secure manner.”

Passengers at Ontario International Airport wait to go through security in Terminal 4 on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.

Will Lester/MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/Getty Images

To receive a pass, non-travelers will have to fill out an online application within seven days of their intended visit. Once approved, the pass will be emailed to them. Printed ONT+ visitor passes will not be accepted.

Non-travelers will be subject to the same TSA security rules as travelers, including not bringing large liquids with them. Currently, the ONT+ pass cannot be used with TSA PreCheck or Clear.

This blast from the past brings travelers back to a pre-9/11 world when it was possible to escort loved ones to and from the gate. 

The Ontario International Airport is the latest airport to offer this service. Seattle Tacoma Airport currently offers a SEA Visitor Pass, which allows non-ticketed passengers the chance to sign up to enter the secure side of the airport. Others, including Pittsburgh International Airport and Tampa International Airport, have tested similar programs in the past, but they have since been suspended.

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