The TSA began a program last week allowing patrons of the Grand Hyatt Hotel at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) past the security checkpoint of the international terminal WITHOUT A BOARDING PASS. In continuing the pilot, next week patrons of the Westin Hotel at Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) will be allowed access to the airport as well.
The idea is so the patrons can take advantage of shopping and dining options available in the airport. I think that’s pretty silly, to be honest. Prices for products and services in any airport are inflated. Everybody knows that. The assumption being that shoppers and diners don’t have the option to leave the airport, so competitive pricing isn’t as much of a necessity as it is in the regular economy. So why would anyone go to the airport for dinner on purpose?
I DO think the relaxed security measures are a good idea, just not for the stated reasons. If you have big clients coming in from overseas, it may be worth your while to rent a room for a night to be able to meet them at the gate. How much would that impress someone? Or if you’ve been traveling for an extended time, how great would it be for your significant other or family to book a room so they could meet you at the gate?
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This is certainly a step in the right direction (provided it doesn’t cause too many congestion problems at the checkpoints), but I’m not sure I would make the effort until the wrinkles are smoothed out. The process to get in is pretty lengthy:
- The hotel will contact a Department of Public Safety Officer (DPS Officer) to come to the front desk to meet with the requesting guest(s) and confirm the registered guest(s) eligibility to participate in the AAACE Program.
- The DPS Officer will examine proper identification presented by each registered guest(s), which includes an unexpired valid government-issue photo (e.g. driver’s license, passport, I.D. Card issued by a state Department of Motor Vehicles), as well as each registered guest(s) date of birth.
- The DPS Officer will compare all information against TSA’s No Fly List – the same list which all persons’ names are compared when going to take a commercial flight – in order to determine whether the registered guest(s) is someone the U.S. would prohibit from flying commercially as a passenger.
- If the DPS Officer permits the registered guest(s) to participate in the AAACE Program, the DPS Officer only will complete and issue the registered guest(s) an AAACE Authorization Form to permit the individual name on it to proceed through only the Terminal D22 security screening checkpoint and cannot be used at any other screening checkpoints.
- The Authorization Form must be presented at the Terminal D22 screening checkpoint, along with government-issued identification, on the date of the form’s issuance. The Form will be taken by the TSA Transportation Security Officer at the screening checkpoint.
After all that, guests are allowed ONE ENTRANCE to the airport terminal.
- Registered overnight guests of the Grand Hyatt DFW who are booked on a flight departing DFW cannot participate in the AAACE Program on the date of their scheduled flight.
- Conference attendees or patrons at the Grand Met restaurant at Grand Hyatt DFW may not participate in the AAACE Program unless their status as a registered overnight guest has been verified.
- Minors cannot participate in the AAACE Program unless they are accompanied by an adult registered overnight hotel guest staying with them who is also permitted to participate in the AAACE Program.
- Minors who have received an Authorization Form will not be allowed to proceed through the TSA screening checkpoint at D22 unless accompanied by an adult with a valid Authorization From and whose name appears on the minor’s Authorization Form.
- AAACE Program participants, like commercial airline passengers, are limited to bringing one bag plus one personal item beyond the screening checkpoint. Items on the current TSA Prohibited Items List can be found at the Grand Hyatt DFW hotel front desk or at http://www.tsa.gov.
Hopefully, the pilot will be as smooth as butter and one day we can all return to meeting people at the gate.