A union of flight attendants has come out against Pittsburgh International Airport’s decision to allow non-ticketed passengers through TSA checkpoints, calling it a “bad idea” that sets a “terrible precedent.”
“Allowing the non-flying public to go through security at the Pittsburgh International Airport for the sole purpose of shopping is a terrible precedent and an ill-conceived decision,” wrote Bob Ross, the president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), in a statement released shortly before the airport’s new guidelines were instituted earlier this week.
“Flight attendants are the last line of defense on an aircraft and as first responders, we know this move by TSA is a bad idea that needs to be reversed,” claimed the president of the APFA, which represents more than 26,000 American Airlines flight attendants. “Aviation security relies on a layered approach where if terrorists breach a layer, second and third layers come into play to protect us. Letting our guard down in Pittsburgh or any other airport for the benefit of retailers is not the right approach to airline safety and security.”
Officials from the Pittsburgh International Airport originally announced their decision to allow non-flying passengers through security last Monday, but stressed that the new program — dubbed “myPITpass” — wouldn’t affect passenger or aircraft safety.
“We do not believe that this poses any additional safety threats,” said Christina Cassotis, the CEO of Allegheny County Airport Authority, to Fox News. “It’s like just having more airline passengers going through because they go through the same vetting process."
According to Cassotis, the changes were instituted to allow companions of passengers to dine or shop in the terminals, or to escort their family and friends to their gates. In doing so, the program has become the first of its kind since the events of 9/11 — a fact that’s isn’t lost on the APFA.
“Days prior to the anniversary of 9-11 is when we should be reminding the public of the need to remain vigilant — not sending the message that the airport is no different than their local mall,” added Ross.
Ross, too, believes that the new myPITpass program will “clog [the] already frustratingly long TSA security lines,” although it’s too early to tell if the airport has seen any difference in wait times.
Just prior to launching the program, however, Cassotis told Fox News there’s a plan in place if the security lines become too crowded.
“If the line gets too long, we’re going to pull the non-ticketed passengers,” she said.
A representative for the APFA was not immediately available to comment.