If you enjoy airport dining, shopping and watching planes take off, two airports now have beyond-security programs allowing those without tickets to greet loved ones at the gate or eat a meal without the goal of catching a flight.
Pittsburgh International Airport became the first airport in the country since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 to offer access beyond security to non-ticketed visitors. Known as MyPITPass, the program launched in September 2017 in partnership with the Transportation Security Administration. (Airport officials say about 40,000 visitors have used the program.)
MyPITPass allows guests without a plane ticket to go through security and visit the airport’s Airside Terminal, where they can shop, dine and do the same activities as ticketed passengers.
Airport officials say they have received positive feedback about the program, and people take advantage of the airport’s concessions, explore and watch planes arrive and depart.
Guests with the pass must go through the same TSA checkpoints and follow the same protocols as ticketed passengers.
Info: Available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; flypittsburgh.com/mypitpass
Tampa International Airport continued the trend this year when it opened post-security amenities to the public. The airport recently finished construction on 70 new shops and restaurants — most of which are beyond security — and, according to airport officials, many people in the Tampa Bay area wanted to experience them. So far about 600 people have used the program for non-ticketed visitors.
Officials say they’ve seen people spend the afternoon at its air-side terminals, visiting one restaurant after another. A couple even celebrated their anniversary at the airport.
The airport’s restaurants include Cigar City Brewing, which brews beer at the airport, as well as Columbia Cafe and the Cafe by Mise en Place — two Tampa staples. Other popular options include flame-grilled oysters at Ulele and the only Potbelly Sandwich Shop in Florida.
The program, known as TPA All Access, has been booked since it began in May. Airport managers limited the program to the first 100 guests on Saturdays to ensure it didn’t affect TSA operations. They say the program didn’t hurt screening times so they’ve upped the cap to 150 people each Saturday.
Info: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays; sign up at least 24 hours prior to visit; tampaairport.com/tpaallaccess
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport last year had a six-week beyond-security pilot program that was limited to 50 people per day Tuesdays through Saturdays.
More than 1,100 people registered for the program, which airport officials say was well received. Officials are now reviewing the program to determine if it will be reinstated.