Southern California’s Ontario International Airport (ONT) introduced a new program on October 17th that enables the non-traveling public to enjoy the airport past security checkpoints, such as spending more time with loved ones or shopping and dining in the passenger terminal.

The program named ONT+ is the first of its kind in the United States and is a free service. The airport said the new program provides community access to the terminal and airport services that have been largely unavailable to non-travelers since before the 9/11 attacks.

How it works

To enjoy the program’s amenities, non-travelers have to apply online to obtain an ONT+ Visitor Pass. Guests can apply for specific time slots on the day of their visit or up to seven days prior. Visitor slots are subject to availability and may already be filled for certain days or times.

To apply, visitors are required to provide their date of birth, gender, and full name as it appears on a government-issued ID. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) then reviews the application for approval.

Sun Country, Southwest, China Airlines

Photo: Ontario International Airport

According to the airport, it takes 15 minutes for the TSA to notify a non-traveler’s approval status if they plan to visit on the same day. For visitors that apply days in advance, the TSA will provide approval status after midnight on the day of the non-traveler’s visit.

Once approved, non-travelers receive their ONT+ Visitor Pass in an email and are instructed to present the pass along with a TSA-approved photo ID to the TSA at the security screening checkpoint. Non-travelers are allowed entry to either terminal 2 or 4 from their approved start time until 21:00 and are encouraged to leave by 22:00.

Visitors are also allowed re-entry on the same day as long as they enter the security checkpoint prior to 21:00. The airport said re-entering visitors may be delayed at the TSA checkpoint due to the prioritization of ticketed passengers.

A safe blast from the past

With ONT being the first in the country to introduce such a program, it brings back memories of history when heightened airport security measures did not exist.

“We all remember the excitement of being able to meet arriving family and friends as they get off the plane,” said Dean Brown, the airport’s Public Safety Administrator. “ONT+ is a way to bring back some of that experience from decades ago in a safe and secure manner.”

Enhancing the experience

The airport expects the new program will act as a game changer for customer service in the industry, allowing other airports around the country to follow suit.

“ONT+ is another example of how Ontario International is always at the forefront of amenities and services that can enhance the customer experience.” – Alan D. Wapner, president of the Ontario International Airport Authority Board of Commissioners and Mayor pro Tem of the City of Ontario.

According to the airport, ONT+ is a permanent program but may be canceled at any time without prior notice in response to exigent circumstances or operational needs. The launch of the program comes as the airport is set to celebrate six years of local ownership next month.

Sitting 35 miles east of Los Angeles, ONT is rapidly growing. The airport exceeded pre-pandemic numbers by 10% last month, and passenger numbers surpassed 2019 levels for the seventh month consecutively.


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