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Pittsburgh to be first airport to allow non-fliers past security since 9/11

Care to do some shopping at the airport, even if you’re not flying? Or walk a loved one to the gate before their flight?

You’ll be able to do that starting next week at Pittsburgh International. The airport is now poised to become the first U.S. airport allow non-fliers regular access into its gate-side terminal areas since security measures changed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

The airport has won approval from the Transportation Security Administration for non-ticketed customers to pass through security, though they will still have to go through the same screening as those catching flights. They’ll also be required to show ID so they can be vetted against no-fly lists.

Airport. (Photo: Pittsburgh International Airport)

“Participants should be prepared to receive the same level of security screening as travelers and should ensure they’re not carrying any prohibited items such as weapons before coming through the security checkpoint,” TSA spokesman Mike England says in a statement. “We look forward to working with the airport on this program.”

Access with the “myPITpass” program starts Sept. 5, when non-flying visitors can request a day-pass at a special counter in the airport’s ticketing area. Access will initially be allowed only on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Officials say that could be expanded if it the effort proves popular.

To ensure that non-flying visitors don’t bog down screening queues, airport and TSA officials say ticketed passengers will receive priority in checkpoint lines during peak periods.

“We don’t expect this will have any impact on wait times,” England adds to Today in the Sky.

He says the TSA in Pittsburgh is staffed to handle any additional influx of visitors, adding no additional hiring was needed to accommodate the program.

He adds that the TSA in Pittsburgh is staffed to handle any additional influx of visitors and says no additional hiring was needed to accommodate the program.

When asked if the change in Pittsburgh could pave the way for similar efforts at other airports, England noted the effort was a local arrangement between the airport and the TSA staff there.Though the plan was OK’d by the agency, England says the Pittsburgh change “is not part of a larger nationwide initiative.”

Regardless of the details, the move is a major win victory for Pittsburgh International (PIT), which helped pioneer modern airport design when its new terminals opened in 1992. Anchoring the airport’s concourses was its “Airmall,” a collection of stores that was unusual for most U.S. airports at the time.

Even today, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes “Airmall is home to several stores or restaurants like Hugo Boss, Armani Jeans, and Bar Symon that are not found elsewhere in Pittsburgh.”

Source: usatoday