Pittsburgh International Airport

Pittsburgh Airport getting a swank makeover

Pittsburgh International Airport is getting a $1.1 billion makeover that includes a new terminal with 51-gates, a modern check-in concourse and a new bag-claim system.

The pictures look so appealing that when the new terminal opens in 2023, they may have to seriously consider trading in the PIT airport code for something, well, prettier.

The new airport terminal will be built next to PIT’s current airside facility, between Concourses C and D, and is designed by award-winning architect Luis Vidal, who designed Heathrow Airport’s T2, and by San Francisco-based Gensler.

While some things may change as the project gets underway, airport officials say the new terminal building will have an emphasis on sustainability, with both indoor and outdoor green plazas and gathering spaces.

The new terminal brings together check-in, ticketing, security and baggage operations into one facility, with a separate level for departing and arriving passengers. There will also be an expanded TSA checkpoint, shorter walking distances and additional space for artwork, concessions and other amenities.

“This new terminal, inspired by the beauty, tech renaissance and people of our region will integrate seamlessly into the great design of the existing Airside Terminal,” said Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis. “In considering this design, we looked at function first, then form, to construct a building that will be both iconic, practical and affordable and that can be easily adapted as the technology and transportation needs of our community change.”

Let’s just hope PIT keeps the dinosaur, the Calder mobile, the shrine to Mister Rogers and the other amenities that make PIT a bit quirky and endearing.

(All photos courtesy of Pittsburgh International Airport)

PIT, SEA and airport vendors offer food, resources to help to unpaid TSA, FAA workers.

PIT, SEA airports offer food, resource assistance to unpaid TSA workers

The government shutdown continues and, at airports around the country, TSA and FAA workers are facing their first scheduled pay period with no paycheck.

Yet, they’re expected to keep on working.

To help out those employees and to show support, the Allegheny County Airport Authority is providing free lunches today to the more than 200 TSA and FAA employees who work at Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County Airport.

Bagged lunches will be provided by Bruegger’s Bagels and will include a sandwich, chips, cookie and drink on all shifts for TSA agents and FAA air traffic controllers.

“We have not seen an impact on operations or lines here in Pittsburgh due to the shutdown, ” said Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis, “We are so thankful to the federal employees including TSA, FAA, Customs and others for continuing to work without pay at this critical time.”

The Airport Authority plans to continue providing the lunches on Fridays to federal workers until the government is reopen.

Help in Seattle

On the other side of the country, The Port of Seattle has put together a resource fair at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The goal: to help federal safety and security employees who are continuing to work without pay during the current federal government partial shutdown.

The fair will run Friday, January 11 and Monday, January 14 and include representatives from providers of short-term loans, employee assistance programs and others to make it easier for federal employees to learn about the services that are available and quickly get help.

If the government shutdown continues, the resource fair may be repeated.

“The federal workers who serve critical functions at the Port—as air traffic controllers, security checkpoint screeners, safety inspectors and other vital roles—deserve to be paid in a timely fashion for the work they do,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins, “Until our federal government ends this unnecessary and harmful shutdown, we will do everything in our power to help workers in our facilities find the resources they need to pay their bills.”

More help

Nationwide, Hudson Group, which operates shops in many airports, is offering a 20% discount off food, beverages and many store products to all TSA and customs employees starting today and continuing until the shutdown is resolved.

OTG, which operates retail outlets and restaurants in 10 airports, will offer TSA employees a 50 percent discount on food and beverage beginning Saturday, January 12 and continuing through the duration of the government shutdown.

Party at Pittsburgh Int’l Airport

Would you go to an airport if you don’t have to?  What is there’s a party going on?

On Saturday, Dec 1, for the fifth year in a row, Pittsburgh International Airport is holding a Holiday Open House in the post-security side of the terminal and inviting the non-flying public to join in.

Festivities will include a live performance by LoveBettie, a chance to create your own giftwrap, a visit by the National Aviary’s African penguin, a juggler, an artist doing airbrush tattos and, of course,  a visit from Santa.

Shops and restaurants will be offering special treats and discounts. And everyone gets free validated parking! Plus, there’s no sales tax on most clothing in Pennsylvania.

Beyond the party, this is a great time to see and learn about the art at the airport on a self-guided or guided art tour.

In addition to a shrine to Mister Rogers, who lived in Pittsburgh and produced his Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood program there, PIT’s art collection includes art prints by Pittsburgh-born artist Andy Warhol, a giant mobile by Alexander Calder, a Robot Repairt shop, and a large scale robotic figure named Arch.

Mr Rogers shrine at Pittsburgh Airport

Andy Warhol Wallpaper at PIT

PIT Calder Mobile

 Interested?  The party runs from 10 a. m. to 6 p.m.  To attend, non-ticketed guests must register in advance, arrive by 5 .m. and make to sure bring along a valid government-issued photo ID.

See you there!

Back to school shopping – at the airport

Hammer Made at MSP Airport

Back-to-school sales are starting and now might be a good time to send out the reminder that airports can be great places to take advantage of tax-free shopping.

Minnesota and Pennsylvania don’t charge sales tax on clothing or shoes – so look for shops in the mall-like shopping areas of both Minneapolis-St. Paul International and Pittsburgh International Airports.

Ecco shoes at PIT Airport

And don’t forget the super-charming pre-security shopping street at Portland International Airport.  There no sales tax on anything in Oregon and while at the airport for a meeting last week I rushed through the shops just looking and somehow came away with a whole new wardrobe.

 

 

High tech ways to clean an airport

(Courtesy C&W Services)

I’m finishing up my May “At the Airport” column for USA TODAY and wanted to share this preview of one of the entertaining new tools several airports are testing and using: robotic floor scrubbers.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is testing one out. Pittsburgh International Airport has served as a testing ground for an automatic floor scrubber as well.

But at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, an autonomous floor scrubber is already on duty full-time. Here’s a short video that shows the machine at work and employees describing how it works, how it helps get the job done, and how much it entertains passengers.

Stay tuned for more details on other high tech ways airports keep the terminals clean.