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Yesterday, my family drove two hours to Pittsburgh in an attempt to get our kids a Build-A-Bear. Unfortunately, before we got there, reports started coming in that Build-A-Bear locations were overflowing with customers. Thankfully, we told our kids we probably weren’t going to get a bear, but we decided to check out the line anyways. Just like the reports, the mall was packed and there was a huge line waiting. We decided not to wait, but didn’t want our two hour drive to Pittsburgh to go to waste, so I suggested we check out the Pittsburgh International Airport.
Since the airport was only 6 minutes, or so from the Robinson Mall, we didn’t have to go far. We weren’t sure how we were supposed to get into the airport without a pass, so I decided to call and see what they said. After a few minutes, I had a little bit more information that was helpful, but we really could have used more.
If you’re looking to visit the Pittsburgh International Airport, I hope this post can be a little more informative than the information we found online.
Why Would You Want to Visit An Airport
Okay, so you may be wondering, why the heck someone would want to visit an airport, but it’s really simple. If you have kids who love the airplanes, you can see airplanes so much better at an airport. Plus, if you live in a very rural area or have never been on an airplane,(like us) airports can be pretty exciting places.
Visiting the Pittsburgh International Airport is completely free, with the exception of parking. Parking can range anywhere from $1 an hour to $3 an hour, depending on where you park. One parking section, cost only $8 maximum all day, so if you plan on spending a lot of time at the airport, this may be your cheapest parking option.
We ended up parking in long term parking and spent only $6 on parking for two hours. However, you should know that even though the parking lot is huge, finding a parking spot took a little bit of time since most of the spots were taken.
Before you park, you will have to grab a ticket from a self-serving kiosk. This will identify how much you owe whenever you leave and you have to have it or you will pay the maximum parking amount. Parking can be paid in cash, credit, or with a Go-Fast Pass.
Getting into the Airport
After parking, gaining access to the airport is easy and there are many entrances. We entered near the Hyatt Hotel since we parked closest to that entrance. Even though it required a bit of a walk, we loved how it had automatic walkways. Although, you could ride the walkways the whole way to the airport, it is still faster to walk, especially if you are in a hurry.
Once you make it off the automatic walkways, you finally make it to the airport. This is the part where you finally have to identify yourself and head to the airport’s third floor to get your myPITpass.
myPITpass is free and located at the left of the elevator, on the right hand side. Once you arrive at the table, you should start seeing signs that look like the ones in the picture below, but if you have any trouble finding the desk, the staff at the airport were really friendly and eager to help.
Getting your myPITpass requires only a valid ID or passport and for kids parents just need to provide their full name and date of birth. Once all the information is provided, you will receive your myPITpass and you must have this when you head to the security checkpoint.
Did you know that Pittsburgh is the first in the USA to offer airside access again after 9/11?
After Getting Your myPITpass
After obtaining your myPITpass, you have one more step before you can begin exploring the airport – you have to go through security. This isn’t as bad as it sounds, but you are still subject to the same security as those boarding an airplane.
Guest who obtain the myPITpass are allowed to bring only 1 personal item with them through the security checkpoint, I brought my cellphone, although I could have brought a purse if I wanted to.
Whenever you go through the security checkpoint, kids under 12 do not have to take their shoes off, but adults and those older than 12 are required to – even if you’re just wearing flip flops.
After passing through the security checkpoint, you’re free to roam the airport as you please.
You can go shopping in one of the many stores, eat at a restaurant, or just watch airplanes fly in and out.
We had such an amazing time visiting the airport, that we would probably do it again if we ever had extra time while visiting Pittsburgh.
We personally loved the tram ride that takes you from security to the boarding part of the airport because it was super fast and something we’ve never experienced before.
The shops in the airport were a bit on the pricer side, so I wouldn’t recommend coming there just for shopping, unless you have a lot of money to spend.
The food selection wasn’t bad; I think we passed two Dunkin’ Donuts, a TGIFridays, a few pubs, and a McDonalds. We ultimately ate at McDonalds while we were there, just because it was the cheaper option, but I do recommend eating while you’re there, especially if you have kids. You can literally eat right beside a viewing window and watch airplanes leave and come in.
For those who have little ones who need nursed, or want to play, the airport even has a kid area with a few fun toys and a bathroom.
Ultimately, if you are planning a trip to Pittsburgh, you should bring the kids to the Pittsburgh International Airport and walk around, even if it’s just for a few hours.
If you would like to learn a bit more about myPITpass, check out the airports website and read the rules and regulations HERE.