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October 06, 2023

Philly airport to allow guests without flight tickets through security with new day pass

The Wingmate program lets people accompany travelers to their gates and wait for those arriving on domestic flights

Transportation Airports
Wingmate PHL Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Starting Nov. 1, Philadelphia airport visitors will be able to accompany travelers to their departure gates with the Wingmate pass.

People without flight tickets will soon be able to get through security at Philly's airport. Wingmate, a program slated to begin Nov. 1, will allow people to accompany travelers to their gates, wait for those arriving on domestic flights and shop and eat at the airport.

To participate in the program, those interested can apply online as early as seven days before they visit the airport. The application asks general security questions, including first and last name, gender, date of birth, email and reason for visiting the airport.

Passes will be sent to approved guests at midnight on the day of their visit. People who apply for same-day entrance will receive an email with their application status within 15 minutes.

The program is free but will be limited to 50 people per day, said Heather Redfern, a spokesperson for Philadelphia International Airport. 

Guests with Wingmate passes must go through TSA clearance at gates D, E or A-East to access the secure side of the airport.

"They need to show ID and are subject to the same security check procedures as ticketed passengers and cannot bring more than one personal item through security (a purse, small bag or briefcase). Items prohibited by the TSA for ticketed passengers also apply to Wingmate pass-holders," Redfern said.

The pass is good for up to six hours between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Pass-holders cannot enter security past 9 p.m.

PHL expects the Wingmate pass to be used by people who are accompanying travelers or picking someone up from the airport. However, it is available to people who want to spend the day at the airport.

Before Wingmate, people who wanted to accompany a traveler to an airport gate would have to contact an airline directly. These services are generally for minors who a parent or adult chaperone would accompany until they board their flight. 

Similar day-pass programs are available at international airports in Orlando, New Orleans, New York City and Seattle, The Washington Post reported.

Prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, it was much easier for people to accompany travelers in airports and wait with them at their gates, according to the Associated Press. Security measures then evolved, including the creation of the Transportation Security Administration under then-President George W. Bush.