Increased Airport Security Screening Since 9/11

“TSA incorporates unpredictable security measures, both seen and unseen, to accomplish our transportation security mission. Security measures begin long before you arrive at the airport. TSA works closely with the intelligence and law enforcement communities to share information. Additional security measures are in place from the time you get to the airport until you get to your destination. TSA adjusts processes and procedures to meet the evolving threat and to achieve the highest levels of transportation security. Because of this, you may notice changes in our procedures from time to time” (

Here are some of the standard security measures you will most likely encounter now whenever you travel by plane.

  • Checked Baggage Screening – this is the standard screening that happens when you get your tickets at the front counter and check in the luggage that is going to be placed on the plane. After you check in your luggage it will be scanned and if there is a reason to do so it may also be manually searched to ensure nothing illegal or dangerous is being put onto the plane.
  • Carry-on Baggage Screening – Most people have at least one piece of carry on luggage and then a personal item like a purse or laptop computer bag. When you pass through security you will be requires to put these items on the conveyor belt to they can be scanned and searched if necessary. Like with checked luggage, the TSA staff are looking for potentially dangerous items.
  • International Flights – There has always been tight security surrounding international lights where a traveler starts in one country and ends up in another. Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 security for international flight has intensified to help reduce the chance or terrorists moving from one country to another. Identification checks and questioning are common these days.
  • Pat-Down Screening – The most controversial of all the new security measures that have happened since 9/11, pat-downs are growing more and more common. If you set off the metal detectors, have something suspicious looking in your bags, or are unable or unwilling to got through the body scanner you will have to have a pat-down search.
  • Screening Technology – Passengers will be screened with a special highly secured process that checks names, passports, and drivers’ licenses against police reports. This is done to ensure known terrorists or criminals are not boarding planes and traveling the airways. Names of people barred from flying or who are on police wanted lists will be available to TSA officials.
  • Secure Flight – Fights now are much more secure even once the plane has taken off. Redesigns to the cockpit and passenger area have focused on keeping people safer. Flight crew have been trained to respond to possible threats and to pick up on warning signs earlier to help cut down on instances once the plane is airborne.

These are just some of the security measures that are in place to keep passengers and flight crew safe while flying. Other measures are used and these processes can change and be altered and combined with other safety measures. This is done to ensure TSA staff do not grow complacent in their checks and to ensure someone trying to smuggle something on a plane doesn’t know the exact routine that will be followed. It is the element of surprise that makes these safety measures all the more effective and successful.


Direct reactions to 9/11

After 9/11, Washington federalized airport security by creating the Transportation Security Administration. It was the largest federal startup since World War II. The agency quickly hired more than 60,000 people to screen passengers and their baggage at 450 U.S. airports. At first, TSA checkpoints looked a lot like their private predecessors. But that started to change in 2001. Passengers were required to remove their shoes for X-ray scanning after Richard Reid tried to detonate explosives hidden in his shoes.

According to here are just a few of the things that have come about to forever change the way we fly since the 9/11 attacks took place:

  • Hardened cockpit doors locked throughout flight (universal)
  • Flight crew and cabin crew onboard drills to prepare for hijack (universal)
  • Armed air marshals (USA)
  • Armed pilots (USA)
  • Advance passenger details notification to security agencies
  • Air traffic control: upgraded to unidentified or non-communicating aircraft
  • Security changes not directly related to 9/11
  • Improved landside protection for airport terminals (not universal)
  • Universal checked baggage scanning
  • Improved cargo screening
  • Restrictions on passenger carry-on liquid containers
  • Shoe scanning
  • Improved levels of screening/vetting for all personnel who work airside
  • Improved passenger identification drills
  • Proposed or under trial
  • Outcomes-based security requirements (UK/Europe)
  • Whole-body scanners
  • New research and technology development to introduce new safety measures

Flying is still one of the fastest and best ways to travel long distances and when you consider all of the flights that occur very day around the world, accidents and attacks are still relatively rare. And with additional security measures in place and new ones being implemented every year, we can continue to keep airline travel safe and effective for passengers like you. Some sacrifices are needed and a little invasion of privacy may also be needed but many consider it to be a small exchange to make for staying safe which traveling. In the coming years we will likely see new innovations to help keep us all the more safe in the air.