One US airport is now letting people without tickets have access to boarding gates

Pittsburgh International Airport is letting non-flyers have access to terminal areas through a new program. Members of the program will be able to shop in the terminal area and meet loved ones at the gate.  There are concerns that the changes could cause TSA lines to be even longer.  In 2016, more than 8.3 million passengers traveled through Pittsburgh International Airport. 

However, its terminals are about to get a bit more crowded.

On Tuesday, Pittsburgh International Airport became the first major US airport to allow non-flyers access to its boarding gates through a new program called myPitpass.

"Since I started here, people have been asking about shopping and dining at the airport. We have worked closely with the TSA on this program," Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis said in a statement.

In addition, family members of those traveling will now be able to wait for their loved ones at the gate.

In a statement, the Transportation Security Administration's Federal Safety Director for Pittsburgh International said:

"The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is pleased to support Pittsburgh International Airport on the launch of their myPITpass program. Participants should be prepared to receive the same level of security screening as travelers and should ensure they’re not carrying any prohibited items such as weapons before coming through the security checkpoint. We look forward to working with the airport on this program."

According to airport authorities, non-flyers will be required to go through the same security procedures, including baggage requirements, as those boarding flights.

"Ticketed passengers will receive priority in the checkpoint line, and the public going air side will be strictly vetted and screened as if they were boarding a plane," the airport said in a statement.

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However, not everyone is thrilled by Pittsburgh International's new program. In a statement, Bob Ross, the president of the Association for Professional Flight Attendants called the program a "terrible precedent and an ill-conceived decision."

Here's Ross' complete statement.

"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. 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.

Beyond security concerns, having shoppers clog already frustratingly long TSA security lines will lead to flight delays and more passengers missing flights, especially during the busy holiday season.

Personally, I’m stunned by the timing of this decision. 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."

Air side access for non-travelers will be available from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday.

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