DEBBIE NORRELL

Shopping is one of my favorite hobbies and I like all kinds of shopping. I enjoy grocery shopping, car shopping, house shopping and of course, I thoroughly enjoy shopping for clothes. Before 9/11 I used to be the public relations manager for the Pittsburgh International Airport and the Airmall in that airport was voted as one of the best in the country many times. I loved browsing through that mall. The stores were mandated to maintain “street pricing” which means they could not charge more at the airport store than the price at a store outside of the airport. After 9/11 you could no longer go to the Airmall without a boarding pass. The stores suffered and I noticed that many closed. I always hoped that the ban would be lifted, allowing people to see someone off at their gate, greet them at the gate, do some shopping at the “airside” mall, have a meal or just watch the planes take off.

Remember those old days at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport? That was a Sunday treat for our family. We would go to the airport after church and watch planes take off. It was exciting. My dad would always buy me an all-day lollipop and it would actually last me all week. It was so much fun.

The new airport (the one we fly out of now) was built in 1992 and it was the crown jewel of airports. The stores and restaurants were great and Pittsburgh International was a hub for US Air. You could get a direct flight to a lot of places and all was good. Then September 11, 2001 happened and you could no longer go to “airside” without a boarding pass. On Sept. 5 the ban was lifted and now you can go to “airside” but you must go through the security checkpoint. Safety of the airport and passengers is still first and foremost of the Allegheny County Airport Authority. Reportedly flight attendants were concerned about the re-opening of the Airmall to the public but it sounds like all measures of security have been put in place.

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