Louisiana has spent $1 billion on a new airport terminal, and it’s determined to invite as many visitors as possible to come check out the investment. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) is rolling out a “guest pass” program after the Thanksgiving travel rush that will allow non-travelers to peruse the concourse, dine at its many restaurants, and go shopping at its retail outlets. Once they clear the security line, they’re free to roam the airport along with everyone else who actually has somewhere to fly.
MSY is not the first airport to debut such a program; as NOLA.com notes, similar programs exist in Pittsburgh, Tampa, Seattle, and Detroit after the TSA first approved them to move forward. It’s a move that seems to split the difference between pre- and post-9/11 airport security measures: You can now accompany your departing loved ones to their gate once more, or be there to greet them when they arrive—but you’ll still be taking off your shoes and going through that body scanner if you want the privilege of grabbing beignets at the terminal’s Cafe Du Monde.
To ensure the guest pass program doesn’t lead to longer security lines and more crowded gates, MSY Guest Pass can only be accessed by 50 visitors per day on weekdays (expanding to 100 per day on weekends), and pass holders can only visit between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., outside the typical air travel rush periods. The program may only be used by each visitor once per month. It seems like a lot of restrictions, but businesses within the terminal will likely see some uptick in revenue from these pass holders, and for families looking to spend a little extra time with loved ones, it beats a quick “Fly safe!” at the dropoff curb.