Sunday, October 8, 2017

No plans at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (KSTL) to allow non-passengers in gate areas

Last month, Pittsburgh International Airport began allowing non-passengers to go through security checkpoints to get to flight concourses during off-peak travel times.

The federal Transportation Security Agency approved the program, making an exception to nationwide restrictions limiting access to ticketed passengers imposed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But don’t expect a similar change anytime soon at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

Lambert’s director, Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, said Pittsburgh’s program offers some opportunity to review the idea but that there are no plans to seriously consider it here.

“I’m not even sure (the federal government) is even open to looking at it beyond this trial,” she added.

A TSA spokeswoman, Lisa Farbstein, said there are no plans to expand the program to other airports.

Pittsburgh officials sought the change to help drum up more business for their Airmall, which in addition to typical airport shops and eateries has stylish outlets such as Hugo Boss and Armani Jeans without other locations in that metro area.

Since 911, the mall has been behind the security checkpoints and thus limited to ticketed passengers, airport employees and, in recent years, people staying in an adjoining hotel.

The change also lets relatives and friends of airline passengers accompany them to their gate or to greet them when they arrive — a once-common practice just about everywhere.

The program allows the non-passenger access only from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Non-passengers have to go to a counter, show an ID and get a pass. They then go through the TSA screening line like passengers, who are given priority.

TSA previously had let Pittsburgh do the same thing for a single day during each of the past three Christmas holiday seasons.

“We were able to demonstrate that it works” without creating any security problems, said airport spokesman Bob Kerlik.

But the new policy was attacked by the president of American Airlines’ flight attendants union, Bob Ross. He called it “a terrible precedent” that hurts aviation security.

Since the new policy began last month, Kerlik said, about 150 non-passengers a day have asked for the special passes. He said the waiting time for security lines during the affected periods had usually been less than five minutes.

Meanwhile, Farbstein of the TSA said non-flyers at most airports can apply to an airline for a special “gate pass” to accompany an elderly person or young child to their flight.

Freight charters increase at Lambert

Underpinned by the auto and aerospace industries, Lambert says it’s experienced a big upswing in cargo freight activity this year.

The airport says it’s had a 30 percent increase in freight charter flights so far this year, compared with the same period last year.

The average weight of cargo on flights has increased by almost four times, to 45,982 pounds, the airport said.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.stltoday.com

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