April 1, 2023

Does anyone remember the days when you could enter the airport and meet friends and family at their gate, without a boarding pass? For those who remember the nostalgia of days gone by, you may be surprised to find out that a couple of airports are turning back the clock and allowing people through security – without a boarding pass. Maybe you are picking up passengers at the gate or seeing them off, or maybe you just really like that restaurant or shop in terminal B. Either way, the Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) and Tampa International Airport (TPA) are allowing guests airport terminal access without a ticket.

Tampa International Airport

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Looking to enjoy flame-grilled oysters at Ulele or indulge in some Potbelly’s cuisine? Every Saturday between 8 A.M. and 8 P.M. guests can enjoy all that TPA has to offer with the airport’s new post-security options. Visitors must be 18 and older (younger children must be accompanied by an adult) and there is a limit to 25 people per airside. To take advantage of #ExploreTPA, sign up for the TPA All Access at least 24 hours prior to your visit. Go to the Information Kiosk, on level 3 of the Main Terminal on the day of your visit with a valid photo ID to obtain your pass and proceed through security. Guests are subject to the same security measures as a ticketed passenger (no liquids and all prohibited items for carryon’s).

Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)

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The first US airport to offer Airside Access, the PIT Pass lets you shop, dine and explore the airside terminal Monday-Friday 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. Visit my PIT pass Ticket Counter on the Third Floor of the Landside terminal. Show a valid photo ID to obtain your pass and enter through the Alternate Security Checkpoint. Again, security screening regulations are the same as for ticketed passengers and you may bring one personal item such as a purse or briefcase. Minors under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. If you haven’t been to the PIT, there is an array of shops and dining options such as the famed Pirmanti Bros, Penn Brewery, The Strip Market, Sarris Candies, and Black and Gold.

Of course, you can always obtain an escort pass if you need to escort an unaccompanied minor, person with a disability or a senior. An airline agent will issue you this pass with a valid photo ID.

Will other airports follow suit and bring back airside access for non-ticketed passengers? It’s hard to say. Seattle Tacoma ran a pilot program which turned out to be successful, but for now, Tampa or Pittsburgh are the only two airports to relive the good old days.

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