Security Rules May Be Relaxed
By ANN Editor Pete Combs
It's a worst moment and it happens every time I see my son off
at the airport for his trip across country, back to his mother's
house. I get the 13-year old boy to the security checkpoint and
wave goodbye. Tears in his eyes, he waves goodbye and then goes
into the terminal concourse -- a place I generally can't go since
the 9/11 attacks. My worst fear is that he'll do what his older
step-siblings did on their last flight to see us. They wandered
confused around the concourse until their flight departed,
hopelessly lost and afraid to ask someone for directions.
In short, I'd feel a helluva lot better if I could take him to
the gate myself. Getting permission to do so is a hit-or-miss
proposition at the ticket counter. So I waive goodbye and I wait
until the flight is gone, making sure no one is frantically paging
me on the airport intercom.
Okay, that's my angst. But for parents who face similar missions
in Pittsburgh (PA), it's an angst that may soon be gone.
Pittsburgh International could well become the first major
airport where federal security officials drop the rule that
prohibits non-flyers from the gate concourses. And if Pittsburgh
does it right, the airport could serve as a model for the rest of
"This is new, this is exciting, because we're basically
rewriting the security directives in order to allow non-ticketed
passengers to go through security," said JoAnn Jenny, spokeswoman
for the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which runs the
Airport leaders and Pennsylvania's Congressional delegation have
pushed hard to get the Department of Homeland Security and the FAA
to allow the change for two reasons: it's more economical and it's
easier on passengers.
Pittsburgh is an ideal candidate for the experiment. There, the
security is centralized. Just on the other side of security is a
full-scale shopping mall where sales have fallen dramatically since
security was dramatically stepped up after 9/11.
If approved, the idea would be for non-flyers to go through
security just like ticketed passengers. They'd have to pass the
metal detectors and the shoe-searches. But passengers don't seem to
And, believe it or not, the TSA seems to agree, at least, in
"There's a customer service benefit to be had here, but at the
end of the day, the security of the flying public at the Pittsburgh
airport is going to come before anything else," said the TSA's
Northeast regional spokeswoman, Ann Davis. "And I think passengers
I know I would.