Pittsburgh airport to test letting nonfliers get past security

Thanks to a new program starting Sept. 5, nonfliers will be allowed to roam beyond security at the Pittsburgh airport as part of a test that the airport developed with the TSA’s signoff.

Whether or not you’re getting on a plane, you may soon be able to get in a TSA line — just to eat the pulled pork mac ‘n’ cheese at Iron Chef Michael Symon’s namesake restaurant in Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT).

Thanks to a new program starting Sept. 5, nonfliers will be allowed to roam beyond security at PIT as part of a test that the airport developed with the TSA’s signoff. Visitors who check in at a dedicated counter on the airport’s third-floor ticketing level and show a driver’s license or passport can receive a complimentary “myPITpass.” Anyone on the no-fly list will not be allowed, and everyone will still have to go through TSA’s standard security procedures — just like travelers with a regular boarding pass.

For the first time since Sept. 11, parents of unaccompanied minors and children of traveling elderly in the Pennsylvania hub will be able to see them through to the gate and keep them company until boarding.

“This is one of the top five requests I get any time I give a speech,” said Christina Cassotis, chief executive of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which oversees PIT. “This is a very unique community in that you have a lot of meet-ers and greet-ers, people who drop off and pick up loved ones,” she said.

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For Cassotis, the move signals “a return to the good old days” before 9/11, when anyone could show up with flowers to pick someone up from the gate.

But a lot has changed since the good old days. For one thing, security requires far more thorough screenings. And whereas PIT was built as a major hub for US Airways, it now operates as an “origin and destination airport,” where people begin and end their journeys but rarely transit through on connections.

PIT’s history as a former hub explains its vast proportions: a “Center Core” has more than 100 retailers including a Furla, Brooks Brothers and Hugo Boss. There are also mini-museums — one from the Carnegie Science Center and one commemorating Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood — and a recently revamped kids’ zone, created in partnership with Carnegie and the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. And the airport is home to more than 30…

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