Airports Want To Let Anyone Into The Terminal With Day Passes


Of all the people you’d think would be sick to death of the Orlando airport, I guess an Orlando-based flight attendant, but OK. WSJ also spoke to a woman who goes to the outlet versions of her favorite downtown restaurants in the airport rather than schlep all the way down to Seattle. While I don’t want to yuck anyone’s yum, I have traveled a lot and have yet to eat a meal in an airport that made me want to go back to that airport just for that meal. In fact, it’s usually much worse than a meal literally anywhere else. And if I’m being up charged on a so-so glass of wine I want half my belongings stuffed haphazardly into a bag at my feet, thank you very much. It’s about the ambience.

“It kind of went against my intuition,” Hendershot says. She says she enjoyed exploring the terminal without pressure to reach a gate at a specific time. Hendershot’s son loved watching the planes take off and waving to the ground crew.

Flying already sucks but being in the terminal isn’t much better. Epidemic levels of flight cancelations and delays can led to jam ups of tired, grumpy people. I just flew through several big airports this week and it was incredibly crowded, loud and hectic thanks to several flights getting delayed. A sports bar my friend and I jumped into to get out of the fray in Atlanta Monday night had ran out of burgers, fries and Coca-Cola. Do you even realize how crazy a place in Atlanta has to be to run out of Coke? Who the hell thinks these are good date night spots?

Imagine, going to the airport and through all the indignities of security just to eat at the P.F. Chang’s near gate B12 and then go home. Or better yet, imagine trying to get to your gate and having to deal with people just poking around and taking their sweet time while you have a flight to catch.

Every side of this scenario is uniquely miserable, yet more airports are trying to tempt locals into visiting the shops and restaurants in their terminals without all the hassle of actually flying somewhere. Orlando International Airport is now getting in on the action, according to the Wall Street Journal. Orlando launched its program in 2022, and so far 1,000 souls have made their way through the airport with no destination in mind.

But if you simply have to get those cartons of duty-free cigarettes then, I guess, go off queen.

Orlando-based flight attendant Aubrey Hendershot is one of the non-fliers.

“My husband and I have talked about wanting to go back—maybe while we have a babysitter—to sit down and enjoy a beer or glass of wine,” Hendershot says.

She recently spent a day off at the airport with her pilot husband and their 2-year-old son. Their boy is obsessed with planes, and the couple wanted to see how he would handle going through a major airport with an eye on taking him on a longer trip soon.

While these programs mean to “…sell the airport as a mall,” airlines have allowed passes through security for non-ticketed individuals accompanying family and friends to gates. Only now, airports hope they can wrangle in people with no other reason to be at the airport, like one family who got the pass through Orlando airport to get their young child accustomed to air travel: