I loved visiting the airport as a kid.
Watching planes taking off so gracefully always amazed me. Being able to leisurely stroll around without running to catch a flight was a treat.
The post-millennial “iGeneration” has grown up not being able to do that without a boarding pass or a special exception. Until now.
Under a TSA pilot program, non-flyers can once again access the secured airside of the terminal in Pittsburgh. For now the program is only in effect from 9am to 5pm on weekdays, but if it goes well the program will be expanded.
If security lines get too long then non-passengers will have to wait until the line shortens in order to get an airside pass. Non-passenger names are also checked against no-fly lists, after all, IDs are no longer checked at the gate.
Kids will love riding the train and watching planes take off while adults can shop at stores that don’t exist in Pittsburgh outside of the airport Airmall.
The new program has generated some controversy. Bob Ross, the president of the flight attendants APFA union said,
“Allowing the non-flying public to go through security at the Pittsburgh International Airport for the sole purpose of shopping is a terrible precedent and an ill-conceived decision.
Flight attendants are the last line of defense on an aircraft and as first responders, we know this move by TSA is a bad idea that needs to be reversed,” claimed the president of the APFA, which represents more than 26,000 American Airlines flight attendants. “Aviation security relies on a layered approach where if terrorists breach a layer, second and third layers come into play to protect us. Letting our guard down in Pittsburgh or any other airport for the benefit of retailers is not the right approach to airline safety and security.
Days prior to the anniversary of 9-11 is when we should be reminding the public of the need to remain vigilant — not sending the message that the airport is no different than their local mall”
Frankly, I have no idea what Mr. Ross is talking about. But kudos to him for managing to throw in 9/11 as a reason why non-passengers shouldn’t be allowed to go through security to experience the airport terminal like in the good old days…
One nice thing about the program will be dropping off and picking up loved ones at the gate. While you can sometimes get an airside pass in special circumstances, that is typically reserved for young children or the elderly.
I used to use my lifetime United Club membership to gain access to the airside section of the terminal. When I was engaged to Mimi I used my membership in order to greet her right at the gate. However United killed that ability last year, which only left buying a refundable ticket as the option to gain airside access in a pinch.
Would you take your kids to visits the airport if this program came to your home airport? Or are the hassles of airport parking and the TSA too much to put up with unless you’re flying? Hit the comments!