Hack Pittsburgh International Airport: How to make your trip a lot less stressful

Where to eat, where to charge, and how to (maybe) get through security a little faster

23940416828_2e011849f7_o
Courtesy of Pittsburgh International Airport
Rossilynne Culgan

Whether you’re headed out of town to visit family or to relax on a beach, getting there can be a stressful endeavor complete with long lines, bad food, very little personal space and not enough sleep.

We’ve got some hacks for that. Here’s all the intel you need to know, organized chronologically, to make your trip to Pittsburgh International Airport a little less hectic and a lot more enjoyable.

Getting there

very handy upon my return

very handy upon my return

Flickr / rklopfer

Parking

If you’re driving yourself there, check parking availability on the airport’s website, broken down lot by lot (short-term, long-term, or extended term). You can even pay in advance to reserve a spot before you leave, saving you some time, said Alyson Walls, airport spokesperson.

Pro-tip: Snap a photo of the directional sign nearest to your parking spot, so you’ll know where to find your car when you get back — and so you’re not “that guy” riding the airport shuttle in circles and beeping your car’s alarm to try and find it.

Ride share

If you’re getting Uber or Lyft or having a friend drop you off (friends who drop you off at the airport are the best friends), you can be dropped off directly at your airline’s spot along the landside terminal.

The bus

This is the cheapest option (other than the gem of a friend who will drop you off for free), and it’s actually pretty convenient. Port Authority’s 28X drops off and and picks up by baggage claim and connects with Downtown, all for the price of a bus ride, $2.75.

At the airport

The security line

Everybody says this, because it’s really good advice: Leave enough time to get through security. Seriously. It takes a long time to sort practically every single item into a separate bin, so give yourself some wiggle room.

To make things a little easier, you can see an estimated security wait time online. It’s not real-time monitoring, Walls said, but it does offer an average.

Also worth mentioning that there’s an alternate security checkpoint in the landside terminal, which helps divide the line. It’s located near the United ticket counter — but it actually might not be worth the trek.

“I think the secret has sort of gotten out,” Walls said, “and I’m not sure that it’s really that much faster.”

No matter which line you pick, she suggests arriving two hours before your flight time.

35759217954_646e47e395_o
Courtesy of Pittsburgh International Airport

Waiting for take-off

Let’s say those security lines run a little quicker than you expect, and you’ve got some time on your hands — not a problem. There’s plenty to do (shop, eat, sightsee even) in the airport while you wait.

As you walk around, you’re going to notice that the 25-year-old airport looks better than it has in years. It’s got a fresh coat of paint (hello, dark modern tones; goodbye, ’90s red), along with new carpeting, updated seating and plenty of additional charging stations.

DSC_0871
Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Treat yourself

If you need a respite away from the crammed gate, you’re in luck: The airport now has a lounge called The Club at Pittsburgh International Airport. It’s $40 per day, so we suggest a cost-benefit analysis to determine if it’s worth it for you.

It features an office area with desks to get some work done, a dining area with eight cafe tables, a seating area with upholstered chairs (good for naps), and a kitchen stocked with soda and a fancy coffee machine.

DSC_0868
Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

The lounge fee also includes light bites and snacks. I checked it out for breakfast, which featured hot items like eggs, bacon and sausage, along with cereals, fruit, yogurt and pastries — and a pancake-making robot (!!!). Local chef Kate Romane serves as a consultant on The Club’s menus. It is said to include complimentary alcoholic beverages, though I didn’t see any (but it was early morning when I visited, to be fair).

DSC_0861
Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Pittsburgh art hangs on the wall, large TVs play sports and news on mute, and there’s plenty of space to charge your phone.

There’s only one single-stall bathroom, but it was exceedingly clean. Honestly, using a single stall bathroom in the airport might just be worth the $40 alone. I was hoping for an airport shower, though.