November 08, 2023

Philadelphia International Airport Becomes Latest to Add Airside Access for Non-Travelers

Philadelphia International Airport is the newest airport to add airside access for non-travelers. Read on for how to apply & what to do with a pass.


  • Philadelphia International Airport now allows a limited number of daily visitors airside access to spend more time with loved ones or enjoy airport amenities.
  • The Wingmate Guest Pass can be applied for online and, if approved, visitors will receive a digital entry pass after a TSA check.
  • Other airports, such as Detroit, New Orleans, Orlando and Seattle also offer airside passes for similar purposes like shopping or planespotting.

Philadelphia International Airport is the latest airport to allow a limited number of daily visitors to go airside and be a Wingmate starting November 1. The focus of the airport is on allowing families and friends of ticketed guests to the gate and enjoy the amenities.

Allowing airside visitation

As PHL Director of Marketing and Branding Megan O’Connell shared in an October 11 statement,

“We are pleased to offer this new free amenity for nonticketed guests. We receive many inquiries from friends and family members looking to escort a passenger to or from their gate. The Wingmate Guest Pass will help loved ones spend more time with their family members before take-off or create a memorable arrival experience.”
One can apply for a Wingmate Guest Pass at one to seven days before their desired visit. Guests who applied in advance will receive an email after midnight on the day of their stay with their application status. If approved after a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) check, they will receive a digital entry pass via PHL’s D/E or A-East security checkpoints. Those applying for same-day entrance will receive an email within 15 minutes with their application status of approval or denial after a TSA check and again with a digital pass.

But just wanting to walk a family member or friend to the gate is not the only reason to request an airside pass. One can ask for an airside pass also just to browse the airport amenities or engage in planespotting – which will be discussed later in this article.

Wingmate Guest Pass can give access to airport amenities

As O’Connell also shared in the PHL October 11 statement,

“We hope that, in addition to meeting loved ones, the public will use the Wingmate Guest Pass to access the airport’s restaurants and shops and enjoy PHL’s renowned Art Exhibitions Program.”
Other restaurants and shops at PHL include the Italian coffee shop Illy, Qdoba Mexican Café, and Sbarro Pizzeria. Among many other amenities, there is also Be Relax Spa, Starbucks, newsstands, and more restaurants like a Philly Pretzel Factory.

Finally, PHL has many traditional art installations, such as pottery and movie posters of movies created in Philadelphia.

What other airports have airside passes?

Yes, PHL is joining a growing list of airports offering airside passes. Below is a list of current airports offering airside passes:

  • Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (Michigan)
  • Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (Louisiana)
  • Ontario International Airport (California)
  • Orlando International Airport (Florida)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Washington)
  • Tulsa International Airport (Oklahoma)

It is worth noting that the author has used the airside passes for planespotting at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport when in the area on other business or to supplement coverage. After a similar process to PHL’s, the author attempted to get through the airport’s anti-glare glass and get gate photos of the international visitors to the airport:

However, the author recommends being eager to show the visitor pass to airport and airline staff who may wonder why you are walking around with a DSLR, especially as the airside pass is currently an American-only phenomenon.

Bottom line

Ultimately, airside passes allow persons who can be trusted to honor simple commercial aviation regulations, either have a bit more personal time with loved ones, do some shopping, or even planespotting. However, it is best to check with your local airport and apply early, as airside pass spots are limited in number.

Copyright 2023 All rights reserved. From By Joe Kunzler.

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