Business Travelers Face New Airport Rules

Executives need to plan ahead if they want to use airport clubs and comply with a recent federal directive. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has mandated that airlines restrict use of airport clubs, a measure intended to limit access to secure areas of the airport.

For many years, business travelers have relied on airport clubs as convenient places to relax between flights or meet with clients. Quite often, executives have used the clubs for impromptu meetings or conferences.

But the new TSA directive ends spur-of-the-moment get-togethers. Now, only members who are traveling or have gate passes can use the club. The gate pass allows an individual to pass through airport security checkpoints. To get a gate pass, a nontraveling member must notify the airline 24 hours in advance and provide a business reason for wanting to use the club. Airlines, such as American Airlines have posted information about the new rules on their websites.

Travelers will see other changes at the airport. On January 26, United Airlines became the third airline to change its checked baggage weight-limit policy. Now, United, along with American and Northwest, permit passengers to check two pieces of baggage weighing up to 50 pounds each. Passengers checking baggage weighing more will be charged an excess fee of at least $25.

Most airlines still adhere to a long-standing industry norm that allows passengers two pieces of checked baggage with a combined weight up to 70 pounds and an $80 overweight charge.

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