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Following a $350 million dollar expansion with room for art installations, live music and new restaurants, officials at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) are considering allowing visitors through security without an airline ticket, reports the Austin American-Statesman.
Officials at the airport — which hosts 25 concerts a week and is home to locations of many iconic Austin restaurants — believe it could be the perfect opportunity to bring more of the community into the airport. The new policy would be a callback to the pre-9/11 era, when passengers could be accompanied by friends and family to the gate for goodbyes.
There is currently no timeline for the proposal, which wouldn’t be decided on until after the expansion is completed later this year, according to the newspaper.
AUS spokesperson Bryce Dubee says that there is some due diligence that will come before the policy could change.
“The safety and security of passengers is always our top priority, so this is still very much in the early discussion stages with all of the necessary stakeholders here at the airport, including airport security and the TSA,” Dubee said to the American-Statesman.
If the initiative is eventually approved, Austin’s airport would become the third in the country to allow non-ticketed visitors to the gate area, joining the ranks of Pittsburgh and Tampa. The TSA, which has yet to receive a proposal from Austin, would have the final say, and considers such proposals on a case-by-case basis, according to the report.
Other airports with similar policies have restrictions on non-ticketed visitors, such as only allowing them past security during certain hours or issuing a fixed number of visitor passes for each day. Such policies help prevent overcrowding and subject visitors to the same screening as regular passengers.
Although details are still vague, Dubee confirmed that officials are actively working on drafting a proposal for Austin that is safe, efficient and feasible for the regional hub.
Featured photo courtesy of Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
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