Pittsburgh International Airport wants TSA to open Airmall to public
Allegheny County's top aviation official said Saturday he intends to lobby the Transportation Security Administration to relax post-9/11 rules that prevent people without airline tickets from going beyond airport checkpoints.
Almost 600 people without airline tickets went through checkpoints to Pittsburgh International Airport's airside terminal on Saturday as part of the airport's 20th anniversary celebration. Before 9/11, the Airmall was open to people without boarding passes, who could go there without showing ID to shop or dine.
The airport received permission from the TSA to take people beyond checkpoints for the one-time special event.
“The event was so successful, I intend to pursue this and ask if we can do it again. If not every day, then on an occasional basis,” said Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Brad Penrod.
Currently, nonfliers can get passes from airlines to escort people with special needs, including children and people with disabilities, to and from their gate. Guests at the airport's Hyatt Regency also can get passes to go beyond checkpoints through a TSA program, now in its fifth year; about 300 passes a year are handed out, the airport said.
TSA spokesman Ann Davis said it would be “too burdensome on the agency to offer this opportunity to the general public on a routine basis,” adding visitors would need to have their names screened against government watch lists and be physically screened at checkpoints.
On Saturday, airport volunteers acted as tour guides, leading groups to the airside terminal. Like fliers, visitors' names were run against watch lists. Visitors had to remove their shoes and go through metal detectors at checkpoints.
Once in the airside terminal, visitors could go off on their own to shop or dine in the Airmall, watch planes come and go, or sit in the cockpit of a Boeing 757 on display.
“I wish it was like this all the time,” said Tim Roscoe, 56, of Cranberry, who visited with his wife Amy, 50, and their daughter Susie, 7.
“It's unfortunate that we have this $1 billion airport with nice stores and restaurants, and you can't get to them unless you have a ticket to fly,” Roscoe said.
Phil Pepe, 57, of North Fayette said he and his wife ate at the airport's T.G.I. Friday's about once every two weeks and occasionally shopped at the Airmall before 9/11.
“I did all my Christmas shopping here one year,” said Pepe, visiting with his wife Debbie, 57, and their daughter and granddaughter.
Airmall businesses wouldn't mind relaxed rules.
“We have a lot of regulars who say they would love to be able to shop here all the time,” said Cindy Schwarz, manager of Radio Road, a women's clothing boutique.
Sales revenue at the Airmall plummeted from $90 million in 2001 to $58.4 million last year, according to concessions manager Airmall USA. The restricted access has contributed, along with annual passenger traffic declining from 20 million to 8.3 million in the same span, said Airmall Vice President Jay Kruisselbrink.
“Safety and security are the most important thing at an airport, but we'd love to have the extra customers,” Kruisselbrink said.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers wrap lackluster preseason with loss to Panthers
- Steelers notebook: Safety Mitchell faces former team, hurts leg
- Penguins confident Pouliot will be healthy, ready for camp
- Young adults drive home rental trend in Western Pennsylvania
- Pirates starting pitcher Cole growing in his 1st full major-league season
- Pitt senior Weatherspoon’s work ethic second to none
- Port Authority adjusts bus schedules
- WPIAL teams value hard-to-come-by nonconference games in Week 1
- Roundup: McDonald’s says 3 more Russian restaurants closed; Fed Chair Yellen’s assets up 8% during 2013; more
- Preseason valuable for Steelers’ offensive line
- North Allegheny background check policy for volunteers put on hold