If you’ve been around long enough to recall traveling prior to 9/11, you may have fond memories of seeing loved ones off or greeting them with an embrace right at the gate. You could relive those memories if you happen to fly in or out of one airport in California.
Ontario International Airport (ONT) in Ontario, California — about 40 miles east of Los Angeles — has announced a new program that allows non-travelers to go all the way to the gate and enjoy ONT’s amenities. Better still, it’s free.
ONT+ lets guests secure an online visitor pass they can use to enter Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints and access the post-security side of the passenger terminal. With the pass, visitors can also access the restaurants, shops and high-end lounges on the terminal’s upper levels.
ONT+ Visitor Pass allows you to:
Meet family/friends at the gate
Check out the food and shopping in the terminals
Geek out to some premium aircraft viewing
— FlyONT (@flyONT) October 19, 2022
“We all remember the excitement of being able to meet arriving family and friends as they get off the plane,” ONT Public Safety Administrator Dean Brown said in a statement. “ONT+ is a way to bring back some of that experience from decades ago, in a safe and secure manner.”
Brown said he worked closely with TSA to establish the program, which is fully automated and integrated with the TSA’s database. As a result, visitors with the ONT+ pass are subject to the same security regulations as passengers boarding an aircraft. So, for instance, if you have an ONT+ Visitor Pass, you won’t be allowed to carry items prohibited by TSA into the terminal.
To obtain an ONT+ visitor pass, you should go to flyontario.com/ontplus within seven days of your visit to complete an online application. You will need to provide your date of birth, gender and full legal name exactly as it appears on your TSA-approved photo ID, such as your passport or driver’s license.
You’ll receive a confirmation email when your request has been received, and then TSA will review it. If you’re applying in advance, you’ll get an email after midnight of the day of your visit informing you of your approval status. If you apply on the same day, you should receive an email within 15 minutes. If approved, you’ll have access from the approved start time through 9 p.m. that day.
Note that you must show the ONT+ Visitor Pass attachment in the approval notification email on your mobile device to TSA along with your ID. Printed ONT+ Visitor Passes are not accepted. Also, availability is limited and visits are granted on a first-come, first-served basis. If you can’t select a start date or time on the form, this means the slots are already filled.
Similar programs have been tested in other airports; Seattle Tacoma Airport currently offers a visitor’s pass as well.
By Tricia Goss, for Newsy.
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