Pittsburgh Airport reopens to non-travelers


Pittsburgh Airport interior by John Marino via Flickr/CC-BY 2.0.

Pittsburgh International Airport is welcoming everyone into the terminal. After more than a decade of restricted access for only ticketed passengers the airport – in cooperation with the TSA – is arranging for visitors to access the Airport Airmall for shopping or to be at the gate to see off outbound travelers or meet inbound passengers.

The MyPITpass program is a pilot effort launching 5 September 2017 with limited hours (9-5). The airport authority says it will measure utilization and judge expansion to other times based on demand.

Those wishing to use the service will present themselves to a dedicated desk in the ticket counter area where they will present ID to have a gate pass issued. They will then pass through the TSA checkpoint, subject to the same rules as everyone else, before gaining access to the terminal. While receiving TSA PreCheck is theoretically possible if the Known Traveller Number is supplied it is unlikely that the airport will build that in to its initial implementation.

The program launch was attended by the local Congressman, Tim Murphy, who spoke more about the human side of the policy than the commerce impact:

I remember the era and the day when you would see someone off at the gate. Perhaps you were greeting a grandparent coming to town who you hadn’t seen for years. Perhaps you are welcoming home a soldier who has been off to war for several months. It should be the point where they step off the plane that the family the loved ones, the spouse the children are there to say hello. We have not been able to have that in the USA for well over a decade. That’s going to change in Pittsburgh.

Not that I expect people will be driving out to the airport just to go shopping, but a few extra visitors in the terminal likely mean incremental revenue for the merchants. That’s good news for an airport that has struggled since losing its role as a hub for US Airways. This won’t fully reverse those problems but every little bit helps. And if the new policy can help bring back a sense of normalcy rather than militarization at airports that’s probably a good thing, too. Then again, it might just mean longer lines for everyone if the TSA doesn’t staff for the demand, a longstanding problem for the agency and passengers.

Header image: Pittsburgh Airport interior by John Marino via Flickr/CC-BY 2.0.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

15 Comments

  1. Will folks really utilize this for anything other than taking someone to the gate? And in that aspect, it’s just easier to book a refundable ticket. No need to deal with anyone at a counter at PIT, can get PreCheck with it, etc

    1. Yes, I expect people will.

      The vast majority of people don’t want to put the cash outlay on a CC for a fully refundable ticket or even really know that such is possible. Also, most people respect the rules in place and that is a clear violation.

    2. I’ve done the refundable thing once to get a specific shot for the news, and nearly forgot. It’s something that it’s in my bag of options as a last resort. But this, this is much better. Heck, I’d do it just to shoot file photos.

  2. There are some stores in Pittsburgh area that only has one store that happens to be inside the PIT terminal… Some dedicated ones may go with it…

    1. United cut that option out a while back. Now a ticket – any airline – is required for club access. Too many people abusing the system, supposedly.

    2. That is the downside at the larger airports, still can’t get into the clubs without a ticket (would be interested if some of the non-airline clubs have the same rule). However, in somewhere like CHS, it is a matter of in one of the chairs in front of the big windows to do something like that. There used to be a landside restaurant with a good view of the tarmac and a couple of runways, but that went away with the renovations.

    3. At IAH it was so rare an occurrence that I had to have the GG listing for anybody working to believe me.

      We used probably 4-5 times a year, max.

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