Starting next week you will not need a boarding pass to access the secure gate areas at Pittsburgh International Airport. I think that is a great thing.
When I was young, flying was a big deal in my house. We took one big trip each summer and going to the airport was a big ordeal. I remember two trips in particular. The first was Chicago in 2000. Not only do I remember the hot breakfast on the 767-200 in coach class from Chicago to Denver and the 727 from Denver to Burbank, but that my uncle was waiting on the tarmac to pick us up when we landed (BUR has no jet bridges, just air stairs and a door to the terminal).
We all laughed because we expected nothing less. That’s just the way things were. Back then it was simple: just proceed though security, no boarding pass necessary.
The following year we took a family trip to DC. I remember my dear grandmother, 104 at the time, accompanied us to the gate to hug and kiss us goodbye. I was very close to my grandmother before she passed away at age 108. It seemed almost natural that she would accompany us to the airport.
One month later, 9/11 hit and everything related to commercial air travel changed. And while certainly I understand why, I love the compromise that Pittsburgh Airport has struck.
Should you wish to access the secure side of the airport, you need to check-in at a special counter, ensure your name is not on the No Fly List, and are issued a boarding pass.
Currently, this service will only be available Monday thru Friday 9am to 5pm but the airport is looking to expand it to nights and weekends.
This does mean that our “09/11 security fee” is subsidizing friends and family members who are accessing the secure side, but I am okay with that. I think making airports more hospitable — finally returning them to “normalcy” — is long overdue.
Australia does this for domestic flights (no IDs or boarding pass required) and has not run in any issues. For the small risk of increased security lines we make airports more inviting to family and friends and take away the stigma of fear which still lingers over a decade after 09/11.
(H/T View from the Wing)