The first time CR set out with Baby Flyer alone, it felt overwhelming all over again for both of us. I set out to see what I could do about helping her for as long as possible through the airport. Since you can’t go to the gate without clearing security, and you can’t clear security without being a ticket passenger, this proves to be a bit of a problem.
Luckily, there are a couple ways to work around it. The most standard way is to plan ahead and ask for a “gate pass.” A gate pass is basically a ticket that allows you to pass security, but not to actually take a flight. I recommend calling a few days before the flight to explain the situation, and then arriving early for the flight and asking again at check in. It will be at check in that they’ll actually be able to issue the pass. Ask politely, let them know it’s your partner/spouse’s first time flying alone with baby. If there are any other special circumstances that might weigh in your favor, go ahead and let them know these as well.
Remember that you will have to go through the full security process even though you’re not flying, so be prepared for that.
The other way is to purchase a ticket you don’t intend to use. Generally speaking, a ticket allows you to access the airport on ‘the day of travel.’ So, if you have a ticket for 5pm, you can arrive first thing in the morning, clear security, and hang out in the airport all day. (Not that I want to admit that I’ve done that….but I’ve done that)
This means if your family is flying, at say, 8am, you can book a ticket that departs at noon, and cancel it after you send them off safely, but well before ‘your’ flight is set to depart.
The key to doing this is to find a reasonable refundable flight. If you have airline miles, you can also book an award ticket for this purpose, as long as the fare rules say it is refundable as well. Be sure to call the airline to cancel well in advance of the time your ‘flight’ leaves, and if you can, book with a credit card that has good customer service, in the event you have to deny the charge. American Express, especially their charge cards, are good for this.
Most importantly, however, is to not exploit this process. I’ve only done it one time this year, because you don’t want the airline to see a pattern, especially if you’re a frequent flyer and have a mileage account at stake. A time or two per year likely won’t raise eyebrows, but I wouldn’t do much more than that. Asking for a gate pass is the safer option, though they’re not guaranteed to give you one.
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