Chuck Hughey babysits his 3-year-old granddaughter, Cleo, every Wednesday. When they’re looking for an outing, they typically head to her favorite spot – Pittsburgh International Airport.
“She loves to ride on the tram back and forth. She likes to get on the people mover because she feels like she can run 100 miles per hour,” said Hughey, 72, of McDonald, Pa., who usually watches Cleo twice a week. “They have a wonderful play area. And we have a good lunch; we always get ice cream. We even get a toy. They have wonderful facilities and we watch airplanes. We just really enjoy it.”
The Hugheys are among the more than 31,000 people who have used the myPITpass program since September 2017, when Pittsburgh International became the first in the nation to allow non-ticketed visitors beyond security checkpoints post-9/11.
Since then, two other airports have followed suit. Earlier this month, Tampa International Airport launched a Saturday program that allows up to 100 people to go beyond security to shop and dine by the gates. And late last year, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport conducted a six-week trial run that operated in November and December.
“This is something the community asked for and we are really happy to be able provide this service in conjunction with our partners at TSA,” said Pittsburgh International Airport CEO Christina Cassotis. “The airport is a regional asset and we want the community to have access to it.”
The number of people who use the program each day varies depending on the time of year, proximity to holidays and the weather, data shows. Typically, winter months attract between 50 and 100 people per day while summer attracts about 150 people per day. The busiest day was Jan. 2, 2019, when 193 people received passes.
Chuck Hughey and his granddaughter visit the airport using myPITpass. (Photo by Bob Kerlik)
In Seattle, officials are hoping to restart their program in the future.
“It was very well-received, with over 1,100 people taking advantage of the program that was limited to 50 people per day,” Sea-Tac spokesman Perry Cooper said. “We have been reviewing surveys from the participants to determine upgrades to the program and working with stakeholders from Operations to TSA for their feedback as well.”
Tampa’s All Access program started May 4. Visitors are asked to sign up in advance.
“To those feeling left out because you can’t get to all these great restaurants and shops we’ve been touting: We heard you,” Tampa airport CEO Joe Lopano said in a release announcing the program. “Now families, foodies or even couples looking for a unique date experience can come try our chargrilled oysters at Ulele, sample locally brewed beer at Cigar City and shop for unique gifts and items at our duty-free and fine retail stores without having to buy a ticket.”
Similarly, Pittsburgh International has focused on bringing more local brands into the terminal, including Primanti Bros, Sarris candies, Penn Brewery, Local, Quantum Spirits and more, which is a draw for many myPITpass users.
MyPITpass does not require advance sign-up. Interested users must bring a valid, government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. The myPITpass counter is located on the ticketing level in the Landside Terminal across from the Allegiant counter. The program is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Users must follow the same security requirements as ticketed passengers, ensuring no reduction in security. Ticketed passengers will receive priority in the checkpoint line, and the public going Airside will be strictly vetted and screened as if they were boarding a plane. All rules for carry-on luggage will also apply to those receiving the myPITpass for Airside access.
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