"Welcome to Pittsburgh" signage at the airport.

PIT is on the march with new airlines, routes and tech hub buzz


There’s excitement in the air at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) and it’s almost palpable. British Airways, which returned to the Steel City in June 2022, recently bolstered its service from London Heathrow to six weekly flights, ensuring that PIT is, as its tagline suggests, connected to the world and the world is connected to PIT. And this week, Icelandiar’s nonstop service to Reykjavik will take wing.

Domestically, Southwest Airlines has been growing its presence in Pittsburgh. So too has Frontier Airlines, which this week will add four nonstops linking PIT with Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth and Raleigh-Durham. And on 3 May, Breeze Airways launched twice-weekly service between San Diego (SAN) and Pittsburgh: it’s currently quoting no-flex fares as low as $99 one-way for certain dates.

But while travelers from western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are, to paraphrase Southwest’s marketing, ‘waving goodbye to Appalachia’ to visit the getaways of their dreams, there are plenty of reasons why it makes sense to visit the City of Pittsburgh as well. For one, the city is increasingly considered a respected tech hub.

In fact, Pittsburgh International Airport is for the second time hosting the FTE Aviation & Robotics Summit. Delivered by Future Travel Experience (FTE), the summit brings together aviation and robotics industry innovators with the primary goal of solving aviation business and operational challenges with robotics and AI solutions.


Riding PIT’s fully automated people mover to reach the airside terminal this morning to catch a Breeze Airways flight to San Diego, your author was tickled to hear the airport advertise this conference over the loud speaker. After all, as part of the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) family, Future Travel Experience holds an important place in the passenger experience (PaxEx) sphere.

“APEX’s Future Travel Experience Aviation & Robotics Summit serves as a nexus for airport, airline, suppliers and operators striving to understand the state of play for the latest technological advancements in passenger experience,” APEX CEO Dr. Joe Leader tells RGN.

“We’re in a world where the more that can be automated in service to customers, the more successful our airport and airline operators will be. It’s about increasing service efficiency. Lines are the common enemy of airports, airlines, and passengers. The less time that customers stand in line, the lower the stress and more readily they will go into relaxing travel and spending mode.”

Tram at PIT connecting landside with airside.San Diego, meanwhile, is considered one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in the United States, making Breeze Airways’ entry to the PIT-SAN market particularly timely. Southwest Airlines is reportedly close behind, with plans to launch non-stop seasonal service between the two cities on 8 June.

Breeze is using its new Airbus A220s on the route, featuring recliners configured 2-2 up front (based on Safran Seat’s Z600 product), and both an extra-legroom economy and economy section down back in the passenger-pleasing 2-3 layout for which the aircraft type is known.

Importantly, Breeze is also now offering Viasat’s high-speed, high-capacity Ka-band satellite-supported inflight connectivity service on its A220s in addition to ample in-seat power, ensuring that tech-savvy travelers can stay connected for the duration of their flight. Portable device holders round out the tech-thoughtful amenities on board.

Seatback of Breeze Ascent recliner features a device holder. Another holder, a groove with back support, can be seen in the tray table.Having a broadband connected fleet is quite simply now table stakes for airlines. The signature hump of Viasat’s antenna can be seen on Breeze’s A220s.

Breeze A220 at the gate at PIT on a sunny day.On this morning’s flight from PIT, I put the Viasat service through its paces, and it worked seamlessly and flawlessly. Those in Breeze’s Nicer and Nicest bundles (the latter includes an ‘Ascent’ branded recliner plus complimentary snacks) can avail of the Wi-Fi for free, which I did. All others pay $8.

Notably, Breeze has integrated the Wi-Fi with its app which in turn recognizes the passenger’s bundle. These days, the word ‘frictionless’ is being bandied about when discussing inflight Wi-Fi but Breeze’s app/Wi-Fi integration truly delivered on your author’s definition of frictionless. I was online in mere seconds. It’s a game-changing addition for Breeze.

Back at PIT, the airport is getting ready for its close up. It is undergoing a $1.4 billion+ renovation which will include a new landside terminal, parking facility, and new airport roadway system. When completed, sometime in 2025, the tram connecting landside and airside is expected to be removed.

But change is clearly already afoot at PIT, and it’s being ushered in by a new crop of carriers, new routes and the tech prowess of the region.

Allegiant, Breeze, JetBlue and Southwest signage at PIT airportRelated Articles:

All images credited to Mary Kirby