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My fiancee and I met - appropriately - in an airport last November in Goa, India. She is from Siberia. We touched bases by email and then started getting more serious till I proposed to her on a vacation in Moscow in March. Trust me the story is nothing short of epic, and she is amazing :)

Sooo.. it's not something that I will die without, but I would really like to meet her and her parents and sister in September when they come off the plane, with an arrival either in Houston or Austin (my home city). Is there any way to pull this off?

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You can ask the airline of her arriving flight if they will give you a gate pass. These are normally given when people must assist family members or friends to get to their gate. It is possible you could get one for this situation. It would allow you to clear security and go to the gate, but of course, not to board any plane. Ask the airline personnel for the appropriate airline at the arriving airport if this is possible. Note that if she will be clearing customs and immigration at this airport, you wouldn't be allowed to meet her at the gate and she will have to clear customs and immigration first. Once she's done this there would be no need for a gate pass.

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    +1. To be clear, this might be possible at the discretion of the airline agent, but not at the first port of entry to the United States, because only arriving passengers and authorized staff are allowed in the immigration and customs area. So if they fly from Russia to Houston to Austin, you could try to do get a gate pass in Austin, but not in Houston. You'll generally need a specific reason, such as assisting an elderly person or someone with disabilities, not just a general desire to see your fiancee 5-10 minutes sooner. – Zach Lipton Jun 23 '17 at 23:17
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    What about claiming that you could help translate for them?? – Quasi_Stomach Jun 24 '17 at 2:33
  • @Quasi_Stomach translate for them with whom though, considering they've already cleared customs & immigration? :) – anotherdave Jun 24 '17 at 10:35
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    You could fly to Mexico, and then catch a return flight to Houston, timing it to arrive shortly before her flight does. However, long-distance flights can arrive early or later depending on the weather. – CSM Jun 24 '17 at 13:18
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One other option is to simply buy a ticket departing that day from that airport, meet up in the terminal, and then cancel the ticket. Depending on airline policies, this could be free. Or you might forfeit the value of the ticket. Read the fine print.

It looks like Austin has multiple terminals without an airside connection -- in general, I haven't found that airport staff care too much about whether the ticket is for the correct terminal. But it is something you might want to keep in mind.

As zach-lipton says above, this is probably infeasible if they haven't already cleared customs and been admitted into the U.S.

  • This won't allow OP to meet them at the gate as they'd have to pass immigration first. They could of course meet at the transit area but then they might as well meet in arrivals. – JonathanReez Jun 27 '17 at 7:06

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