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Changes coming to Pittsburgh International Airport security checkpoints starting in July. Here's what travelers should know.

New screening strategy at Pittsburgh International Airport aims to reduce long lines
New screening strategy at Pittsburgh International Airport aims to reduce long lines 02:17

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The Transportation Security Administration along with Pittsburgh International Airport on Thursday announced changes for early morning travelers that will go into effect next month. 

As the airport has seen a surge of passengers at PIT in the early morning hours, the number of passengers has also exceeded the capacity of security checkpoints, specifically between 4 and 7 a.m., on Monday through Friday. 

TSA said this is due to additional flights that have been added to meet travelers' demands. 

Now, TSA is recommending those who have booked early morning flights get to the airport at least 2 to 3 hours before their flights. 

PreCheck lane changes

In order to meet the demand, TSA has announced that beginning on July 8, between the hours of 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays, the alternate security checkpoint will be for travelers enrolled in TSA PreCheck. PreCheck lanes at the main checkpoint will also not be open during those hours. 

They said that this move would expedite the screening process while maximizing space and minimizing wait times at both checkpoints. 

"This is the busiest this checkpoint has ever been," said Bob Kerlik, the director of public affairs for the Allegheny County Airport Authority. "When you think about it before, when we were a hub, we were seeing some 20 million passengers, but only 5 or 6 million of them were actually using the checkpoint. Everybody else was connecting. Those connecting passengers are gone and now we have double the number of people that are using the checkpoint. So from 5 to 6 million, now we have 10 million people using this checkpoint."

This comes just days after PIT issued a travel alert due to long security lines. 

Kerlik says that when the new terminal opens in 2025, the security checkpoint will increase from seven to 11 lanes and be one consolidated checkpoint, but until then, the TSA is implementing a quick fix they hope will bring wait times down.

Signs will be posted inside the terminal informing travelers of the change and TSA PreCheck passengers will be redirected to the alternate checkpoint. 

CLEAR passengers still will have to go to the main checkpoint. 

It is important to note that if you are traveling to Orlando, Florida, or Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, TSA wait times are minimal at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe, and that airport boasts free parking. So it may be a good alternative to consider.  

Record passenger volume

TSA said they have seen travel volume increase "tremendously" in the past several months. Kerlik says it's been busy.

"So what we are seeing here at Pittsburgh International with record crowds is really a nationwide issue," said Kerlick. "And that is coupled with a lot of the new flights coming online nationwide, but also, just the appetite for ... summer travel and post COVID."

This past Saturday, TSA screened nearly 3 million travelers nationwide, a record for most people screened in a single day in the 22-year history of TSA. The 10 busiest days in TSA history have happened since May of this year. 

They're expecting to screen more than 30 million passengers from June 27 through Monday, July 8 which would be a more than 5-percent increase over 2023 Independence Day. 

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