Follow KDKA-TV: Facebook | Twitter

IMPERIAL, Pa. (KDKA) – Pittsburgh International Airport is becoming the first airport in the country to allow the public to access gates, shops and restaurants beyond the security checkpoint without requiring an airline ticket and no reduction in security.

The change went into effect Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Through the new myPITpass program, the public will have year-round access to the Airside Terminal at Pittsburgh International Airport for shopping, dining and meeting/greeting passengers.

KDKA’s Lisa Washington Reports —

People who want to take advantage of the program must follow these steps:

1. Check in on 3rd Floor Ticketing Level (across from Allegiant)
2. Show a valid photo ID (Driver’s License or Passport)
3. Have name vetted against No Fly list and obtain stamped myPITpass
4. Go through security checkpoint observing the same rules as passengers boarding flights.

Airport CEO Christina Cassotis said the myPITpass desk would be set up on the far end of the ticketing level of the landside building. Hours for issuing passes will be Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the possibility of additional hours and weekend days in coming months. The pass is only valid on the day of issuance.

“Show up with a valid driver’s license or passport as though you were buying a ticket,” Cassotic said when the changes were announced in early September, “because we’re going to run you against the no-fly list, that’s how it works. We’re going to check you the way the airlines check you.”

Vice President of Media relations for the Airport Authority Bob Kerlik tells the “KDKA Morning News” they selected 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday so security lines don’t get too long.

“It really misses our morning push for the traveling public. By 9 a.m., that usually has thinned out a little bit. Many times throughout the midday, there is less than a 10-minute wait, so we don’t think it will have an impact on security lines,” said Kerlik.

If security lines do get too long, Kerlik says myPITpass holders will be asked to step aside and give ticketed passengers first priority.

The non-ticketed visitors are a welcome sight to those running the Airmall shops.

“I think it’s great to give the Airmall some new business and bring some foot traffic into the stores,” said Aaron Gschwendtner, who works in the Pandora store.

But not everyone is excited about the program.

The changes are a step back from the heightened security put in place following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, which restricted all airports to allowing only ticketed passengers beyond the TSA screening points.

KDKA’s John Shumway Reports —

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants is speaking out against the changes.

“This is an ill-conceived relaxation of security requirements and a dangerous precedent. We shouldn’t be letting our guard down,” said APFA President Bob Ross. “Airports are not shopping malls. They are travel hubs, where security must always be the top priority.”

The last three years, Pittsburgh International Airport has opened the Airside Terminal to non-ticketed visitors using the same process, and officials said it was those days that proved to the Transportation Security Administration that it could be done.