The U.S. Airports Where You Can Go Past Security Without a Ticket

You can now enjoy everything some airports offer without having a boarding pass. Here's how.

Courtesy of Orlando International Airport
Courtesy of Orlando International Airport
Courtesy of Orlando International Airport

Even in the inevitable stress that can accompany airline travel, there is something we find soothing about airport terminals. It’s like a mall of the sky, where you can sit in an atrium eating a soft pretzel for a spell, a nostalgic throwback for millennials who spent their youth hanging out at the mall.

Airports know the pull of nostalgia (and we guess spending extra time with loved ones as well is a draw), as some locations now offer visitor pass programs so you can head to the terminal without a boarding pass to shop, eat, or (we guess) just hang out?

Earlier this month, Orlando became the latest major US airport to launch a visitor pass program, ExperienceMCO. It allows non-traveling public to check out its Terminal C post-security, the newest wing of the Orlando International Airport that opened in 2022. “Whether shopping, dining or spending more time with loved ones who are flying out, guests can choose their own adventure,” the airport said in an official announcement of the program.

To use one of these visitor passes to go past security and enter a terminal without a boarding pass for a flight in hand, there are steps and stipulations to follow. First, individuals must apply online here up to seven days in advance of when they want to use a visitor pass. You’ll receive a confirmation email that your request has been received. Second, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will review your request. You’ll then receive another email with your approval after midnight on the day of your requested visit. If you are approved, your visitor pass will be attached to that email. Bring your visitor pass with you, and when you arrive at the TSA security checkpoint show it to the TSA agent along with your TSA-approved photo ID.

ExperienceMCO visitor pass holders can only visit Terminal C, and must enter through that terminal’s TSA checkpoint. Sorry TSA Pre-Check members, you’ll still have to go through the gen-pop security line if you are using an ExperienceMCO visitor pass. Entry using the pass is only between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm and guests using the pass are required to exit the terminal by 8 pm.

Other airports that offer similar visitor pass programs include:

In addition to these, Afar recently outlined some smaller airports that also offer similar passes. There are some differences at each location when applying for a visitor pass, so make sure to follow the rules according to each airport’s website.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTikTokTwitterFacebookPinterest, and YouTube.

Lisa White is a contributor for Thrillist. Follow her on Instagram.


Mad Mex’s New Menu Item Is Inspired by a Popular Mexican Street Food

mad mex chicken al pastor

Mexican restaurant chain Mad Mex has dropped a new protein, and it’s one of the most popular street foods in Mexico.

Enter, Chicken Al Pastor. It’s traditionally made with pork and grilled on a spinning rotisserie with a pineapple sitting a top, but Mad Mex has put its own spin on it, serving chicken bathed in an Al Pastor marinade with a touch of juicy pineapple.

You can order the protein-packed filling in your favourite burrito, bowl, quesadilla, nachos, or in a taco.

As always, these things are here for a good time, not a long time. Pop into your local Mad Mex restaurant, order delivery or through the Mad Mex app today.

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