For the first time since 9/11, non-ticketed people will be able to eat at the restaurants and peruse the aisles of stores on the gate side of security checkpoints at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis made the announcement Monday. Pittsburgh is the first city in the country to lift the post 9/11 restriction, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
When Pittsburgh International Airport first opened in 1992, customers were allowed to enter the now-restricted areas of the terminal. Shops inside the terminal were known to be competitive, price-wise, with other stores in Allegheny County, according to KDKA-TV.
After the Sept. 11 terror attacks, however, the Transportation Security Administration formulated new restrictions on who exactly was allowed into certain parts of airports. Nevertheless, the Pittsburgh airport pleaded with the federal government for years to allow more than just airline passengers through security checkpoints, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune.
While airport officials were able to convince TSA officials to let holiday shoppers through on one-day passes around Christmas time, they have been unable to achieve a more permanent arrangement — until now.
Under the new pilot program, anyone will be able to walk up to the security checkpoint, show their identification and undergo further screening. If cleared by security officials, those non-ticketed customers will then be able to shop around just as any ticketed passenger would. It was not immediately clear exactly what type of screening will be required for non-ticketed customers.
A spokesman for the TSA did not immediately return a request for comment from TheBlaze on Monday.
The new program will officially go into effect Sept. 5. Non-ticketed passengers will be allowed past security checkpoints only on weekdays between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., according to the Post-Gazette.
The announcement came just days after the TSA issued a press release saying that a woman tried to bring a loaded gun onboard at a plane at Pittsburgh International Airport. The unidentified woman reportedly had a loaded Ruger.380 handgun and ammunition in her purse while attempting to pass through the security checkpoint. TSA officers stopped the passenger as the firearm passed through the x-ray machine.
Police responded to the incident, issuing the woman a summons. The Pittsburgh Tribune reported the woman's concealed-carry permit had recently expired.
According to TSA spokesman Mike England, “99 percent of the people we catch with firearms say they forgot they were carrying them."
TSA officials at Pittsburgh International Airport have recovered 21 handguns at security checkpoints so far this year. Security checkpoint officers recovered 22 handguns all of last year. The Tribune reported that the increase in recovered handguns at security checkpoints at Pittsburgh International Airport is because of more passengers traveling through the facility.