Pittsburgh Airport Becomes First to Open Terminal to Non-Travelers Post-9/11

Aug 29, 2017

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If you’ve been through Dallas/Fort Worth’s newly remodeled Terminal A, you know it: Airports are looking like shopping malls more than ever. From candy stores and restaurants to jewelry stores and high-end fashion, DFW’s Terminal A is packed full with 82,222 square feet of retail space — 55% more than was even planned during the first stages of the remodel in 2011.

There’s a reason for this. Airlines and airports get a significant chunk of revenue from airside concessions. While historically only there so passengers have a place to grab a bite or maybe pick up a last-minute souvenir, airports like DFW are taking airside concessions to the extreme with the hope that originating and connecting passengers will make the airport itself a shopping destination.

If that’s the case, then DFW — and other airports employing the same strategy — will be salivating to participate in a new TSA pilot program launching at Pittsburgh Airport (PIT). Beginning September 5, PIT is opening its airside terminal to non-flyers from 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday, “with the possibility of additional hours and weekend days in coming months.”

Non-passengers will still have to clear security checks and will have to register to receive a “myPITpass” first. As reported by WPXI, the procedure will be as follows:

  • Check in on 3rd floor ticketing level (across from Allegiant)
  • Show a valid photo ID (driver’s license or passport)
  • Have name vetted against No Fly list and obtain stamped myPITpass
  • Go through security checkpoint observing the same rules as passengers boarding flights

Reportedly, ticketed passengers will receive priority in the security line. However, it’s hard to imagine how this will be implemented in practice without creating separate lines.

We applaud this effort, as it’s going to allow families and friends to see each other off at — or meet back up at — the gate again. No more abrupt, awkward greetings at the TSA line or the curb outside.

But besides families meeting and saying goodbye, is Pittsburgh Airport going to draw crowds using this open terminal? Quite possibly. This is after all the Travel & Leisure #6 best US domestic airport boasting “easy access, a vast selection of restaurants, and design with a sense of place.” Not sold yet? There are also “cool landmarks inside the airport, like a T. Rex skeleton and a statue of former Steelers football player Franco Harris.”

We checked with the TSA, and the agency told us it “did not need to hire additional personnel to accommodate this program.” Yet it “also does not anticipate that there will be any impact on checkpoint wait times,” a statement that may clash with the reality of more people coming into the terminal — and lead to non-fliers staying away from longer security lines.

That said, it’ll be interesting to see how popular this program is and what other airports will be next to implement it.

Thanks to TPG reader Michael S. for the heads up about this new program he sent us through our TPG Tips hotline.

Featured image by Pittsburgh Airport.

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