10

As of quite awhile back you're not able to meet people at the gate of the arriving flight.

However, I've come across certain sites like Churchill Executive Cars, which offers a concierge service that supposedly allows an agent of the company to meet the client at the gate or even on the tarmac and help them through the Immigration and Customs this one specifically in JFK but they offer similar service in other major New York Area airports.

VIP TARMAC

Additionally, we have tarmac service available that would allow a passenger to de-board the plane directly onto the tarmac where their luggage will be loaded into a private car, taken to a private immigration area, and then dropped with a Churchill Executive Cars driver outside the terminal to take them to their final destination.

VIP ARRIVALS

On arrivals, we will have a Churchill Executive Cars Agent meet the passengers at the gate when they de-board the airplane. The agent will have a sign with the passenger's name and Churchill logo and have a baggage porter ready to carry their carry-on bags. The agent will then whisk them through fast-track immigration and customs, and pass the passengers along to the Churchill Executive Cars driver to be taken to their final destination.

Now if this is true there is a way for someone to have clearance to go airside to meet a person but I was unable to find any references on how such a clearance can be attained.

So is this real? And can this be done by an Average Joe?

  • You can still meet people at the gate in Australia, and probably other countries as well. But as pnuts notes, these are almost certainly concessionaires who are contrated to offer the service, not too different from the Starbucks or the shoe shiner on the other side of the gate. – choster Feb 3 '15 at 19:10
  • If you're dropping off someone like an unaccompanied minor, or who needs wheelchair assistance, or possibly someone with a language issue, ask at the front desk for a pass. Escorting to the gate is easier because you're with someone who has a boarding pass. I'm not sure it would work for meeting someone. – mkennedy Feb 3 '15 at 19:15
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    @pnuts If this is not an employee of the company then who is doing the meeting? And yes they should have been vetted and blah blah blah, so is this an airport/TSA employee? Neither one advertise or mention that these services exist. – Karlson Feb 3 '15 at 19:24
  • @mkennedy Unaccompanied minor is usually taken by an airline employee who has ability to take the person through security. Similar issue is with wheelchair. The situation I describe has nothing to do with it. – Karlson Feb 3 '15 at 19:26
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    @choster I realised this on Monday and confirmed yesterday (flying to Melbourne and back from Sydney) - there's no check on tickets, you just go through security - anyone can do it! – Mark Mayo Feb 4 '15 at 0:27
9

Yes, it's still possible, but it's at the airline's discretion.

I have two online sources for this:

Airlines allow for "companions" to acquire what's called a "gate pass," which allows you to walk your traveling loved ones all the way to the final gate. To get one, just speak with the airline rep at the ticket desk, and try to have the actual ticket-holders with you at the time. The catch is that you'll need to present a valid reason for wanting to be there, since those gates are crowded enough as it is

Gate passes are provided free of charge at the airport and issued under certain circumstances noted below. You will need to speak to an airport check-in agent for assistance in obtaining a gate pass. This policy is applicable to flights departing the U.S. only. Due to immigration requirements gate passes are not issued by non-U.S. airports or when an international flight is arriving in the U.S.

The following situations are eligible for the issuance of a gate pass:

  • Parent/Guardian of minors under 18 traveling alone, or children that will be met at a connecting city and picked up by a parent or guardian. Note: Children do not have to participate in the Unaccompanied Minor Program for a parent or guardian to be issued a gate pass. Please see additional information about unaccompanied minors.
  • Escort for elderly passengers or passengers with disabilities needing assistance. This may include someone who will push the wheelchair, provide transfer assistance in/out of the seat, provide extensive personal assistance not provided by airline personnel such as feeding/within lavatory or a sign language interpreter. Note: The adult does not need to participate in the Adult Assistance program for the person assisting them to be issued a gate pass. Please see additional information about the Adult Assistance Program.
  • Oxygen providers. This may be an employee from a medical oxygen company who the customer has contracted with to provide oxygen on the ground or a friend or family member who will bring the oxygen to/from the gate area.
  • Military families. Families of military service personnel are permitted through the screening checkpoint with a gate pass for both departing and arriving military family members.

So in conclusion, yes, there are some situations where you, as a non-passenger can reach the gate to see off / greet passengers, but you have to get a gate pass, and it's not a right, it's a privilege.

  • 1
    This is only for the outbound flights. The quotes I mentioned are for the arrivals. – Karlson Feb 4 '15 at 0:22
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    @Karlson - from the parent/guardian paragraph, the oxygen one AND the military one - they all mention to/from gates (ie departing and arriving). The elderly one implies it but doesn't state it specifically, I'll admit, but I suspect it's permitted too, under some situations (ie not internationally arriving flights). – Mark Mayo Feb 4 '15 at 0:25
  • I tried to get a gate pass when my mother broke her ankle while away and was coming back with a wheelchair. No dice - this was at YYZ and under no circumstances would they let me come through and meet her. So don't assume this is something that can be done. – Kate Gregory Feb 4 '15 at 0:27
  • @KateGregory that was also in Canada, while this is US, but yeah, as I said it's not a right, it's still up to the airline :( – Mark Mayo Feb 4 '15 at 0:28
  • In the US, I've had a gate pass to drop off unaccompanied minors, but I couldn't get one to pick them up. We had to send in a copy of our driving licences a few days beforehand. – Jeremy Miles Feb 25 '15 at 1:16
3

Domestic departures and arrivals are not separated in the USA so your task is to get inside security. That's easy! Buy a refundable ticket for a flight say 6-8 hours later than your meeting, walk through security and the moment you have crossed security, cancel your ticket for a full refund. Of course you want to check the fine print before you do this but the worst I can remember is the cancel deadline being two hours, sometimes it's an even shorter period.

  • The link I provided claims both. – Karlson Feb 24 '15 at 22:45
  • haha - This is a creative solution that should theoretically work. I'm not sure if any contracts of carriage have anything in them about buying the tickets in good faith, but I kind of doubt that they do. I would, however, probably not do this with an airline whose frequent flier program you value or that you don't want to be banned from flying on in the future. Should they find out that you never actually intended to take the flight - especially if you do this repeatedly - I wouldn't be surprised if you got a nastygram from the airline and/or they kicked you out of their loyalty program. – reirab Aug 13 '15 at 21:57
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    Also, do refundable fares still allow you to refund even after you've checked in? If not, this wouldn't work, as you must have checked in and have a valid boarding pass to get through security. I suppose this could also potentially get you a nastygram from TSA, as they would have records of you being issued a boarding pass and passing through the checkpoint, but then of your boarding document being cancelled. If done repeatedly, this might be enough to raise some eyebrows with the good folks at DHS. – reirab Aug 13 '15 at 21:58
  • help.jetblue.com/SRVS/CGI-BIN/… "Blue Flex No charge to change or cancel your reservation prior to departure, difference in fare only." says nothing about check in. – chx Aug 15 '15 at 12:21
2

Companies like the mentioned limousine service, as well as some big tour operators like cruise lines, bus tours, etc sometimes have licensed meet & greet staff. These staff have had to undergo security clearance and are issued airport ids that allow them access to gate areas.

It is possible to be issued a temporary gate pass when sending off and meeting small children and elderly parents. But these privileges are limited and at the discretion of the airline or airport staff.

However getting access to the gate area for meeting friends and such won't happen unless there is some extraordinary circumstance.

protected by Gagravarr Feb 13 '15 at 11:39

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