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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