Passengers want to accompany friends and family to the gate. Airports want more people shopping and dining, they earn a percentage of the revenue at all the merchants at the airport. And by the way airlines usually share in this revenue, too.
The TSA wants to limit the number of people going through security. They also want to limit the bags they have to screen at the checkpoint. The TSA is the government, so until now they’ve gotten to decide.
Airlines have had some leeway, in some cases issuing passes for members of their club lounge programs to access meeting rooms even when not traveling. But even that’s been limited. I’ve certainly gone airside when not flying for airline events and even for some community meetings.
But most people have to buy a refundable ticket, go through security, and refund the ticket. That’s no longer necessary though in Pittsburgh.
Effective September 5 you won’t need to be flying same day in order to clear security at Pittsburgh International Airport between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday “with the possibility of additional hours and weekend days in coming months.”
The airport pressed the TSA “for years” to accomplish this. Here’s how it will work.
• Check-in on the departures/ticketing level with a valid ID
• They run you against the No Fly List
• You get a stamped “myPITpass” instead of a boarding pass, valid to go through security same day
So you’re probably not going to go to the airport just for the restaurants and most people probably won’t know about this, but it will mean incremental revenue for businesses and the airport, and convenience for customers.
On the other hand it could increase crowding in the Admirals Club from people looking to leverage their membership for free rail drinks more often throughout the year.
There’s literally zero security tradeoff, the only concern is long lines from a badly managed TSA, but they’re starting off with limited hours. It will be interesting to see if other airports can push through the hurdles and accomplish something similar. It does go to show, though, if you want social change in airport security it needs to be driven by someone with an economic interest.