October 18, 2021

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Unlimited Technology

How 9/11 changed air travel: more security, less privacy

DALLAS (AP) — Ask anyone old enough to remember travel before Sept. 11, 2001, and you’re likely to get a gauzy recollection of what flying was like.

There was security screening, but it wasn’t anywhere near as intrusive. There were no long checkpoint lines. Passengers and their families could walk right to the gate together, postponing goodbye hugs until the last possible moment. Overall, an airport experience meant far less stress.

That all ended when four hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.


The worst terror attack on American soil led to increased and sometimes tension-filled security measures in airports across the world, aimed at preventing a repeat of that awful day. The cataclysm has also contributed to other changes large and small that have reshaped the airline industry — and, for consumers, made air travel more stressful than ever.

Two months after the attacks, President George W. Bush signed legislation creating the Transportation Security Administration, a force of federal airport screeners that replaced the private companies that airlines were hiring to handle security. The law required that all checked bags be screened, cockpit doors be reinforced, and more federal air marshals be put on flights.

There has not been another 9/11. Nothing even close. But after that day, flying changed forever.

NEW THREATS, PRIVACY CONCERNS

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