HomeInternationalHow flying has changed since 9/11

How flying has changed since 9/11

(CNN) — When this century started, you would pull as much as the airport 20 minutes earlier than a home flight within the United States and stroll straight over to your gate. Perhaps your accomplice would come by way of safety to wave you goodbye. You won’t have a photograph ID in your carry-on, however you would have blades and liquids.

Back in 2001, Sean O’Keefe, now a professor at Syracuse University and former chair of aerospace and protection firm Airbus, was deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget within the George W. Bush administration.

“At the White House, I was a member of the National Council Security team,” he informed CNN Travel. He and his colleagues had been briefed on the al Qaeda terrorist group and understood the menace it posed, “but at the same time our imaginations simply did not give us the capacity to think that something like [9/11] could happen.”

It had been practically 30 years since Palestinian terrorist assaults at Rome airport in 1973, which killed 34 individuals and demonstrated that air journey was weak to worldwide terrorism. “That seemed to have changed the whole security structure in Europe and in the Middle East in a way that didn’t really penetrate the American psyche,” O’Keefe stated. “It’s this typical American mindset; we have to experience it to believe it.”

Then on the morning of September 11, 2001, a workforce of 19 hijackers was capable of board 4 completely different home flights within the northeastern US in a sequence of coordinated terror assaults that will declare 3,000 lives. Flying in America, and the remainder of the world, would by no means be the identical once more.

‘Something simply occurred in New York City’

O’Keefe was within the White House’s West Wing with Vice President Dick Cheney when the information got here by way of. They “had the television on, matter of fact it was CNN,” he recalled. “The phone rang. His receptionist was on the hotline to tell him to (turn the sound up); something just happened in New York City.”

Like thousands and thousands of individuals world wide watching the identical scenes reside after the primary aircraft hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower, O’Keefe and his companions assumed they have been witnessing a horrible accident, a matter for the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation.

But when the second aircraft hit the South Tower 17 minutes later, O’Keefe stated, “That was the moment where it was really evidence that this was something more than an accident, this was a premeditated effort. The security guards, the Secret Service, all mobilized.”

The occasions of that morning within the US changed the nation “automatically, immediately, into one obsessed, in big ways and small, with protecting its security,” wrote historian James Mann in 2018. “The way that 325 million Americans go through airports today started on September 12 and has never gone back to what it was on September 10.”

‘We all had an epiphany on the identical day’

Departing travelers wait in long lines in the United Airlines terminal at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on September 14, 2001.

Departing vacationers wait in lengthy strains within the United Airlines terminal at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on September 14, 2001.

Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The US authorities instantly started work on the safety manifesto that by November 19, 2001, can be handed into regulation because the Aviation and Transportation Security Act.

“The fact that they had orchestrated that strike with three different flights in three different places” made clear how weak the US was, O’Keefe stated. “That was a real slap in the face. It reminded us how naive we had been.”

Getting settlement from Congress on safety modifications was quick and unanimous, he recalled. We wanted “to make the resources available right away, to reinforce all those doors and cockpits (and) actually establish security perimeters.”

In airports and on airways, in the meantime, harder safety measures have been launched as quickly as civilian air journey resumed on September 14. The National Guard offered armed navy personnel at airports, and vacationers confronted lengthy strains as the brand new techniques acquired their begin.

Those early post-9/11 passengers — individuals who hadn’t canceled or rescheduled their journeys — have been, O’Keefe stated, largely accepting of the brand new high-security regime, with its disruptions and delays. “We all had an epiphany on the same day.”

Identification checks

Some of the 9/11 hijackers had been capable of board flights with out correct identification. After the assaults, all passengers age 18 and over would wish a sound government-issued identification with a view to fly, even on home flights. Airports may verify the ID of passengers or workers at any time to substantiate that it matched the main points on their boarding cross.

Before the occasions, the US federal authorities had a small listing of individuals deemed a menace threat to air journey. However, what we all know at this time because the No Fly List — a subset of the Terrorist Screening Database denoting people who find themselves barred from boarding business plane for journey into, out of and contained in the US — was developed in response to 9/11.

Around the world, nations turned extra stringent with id checks, safety screening and their very own variations of the No Fly List. In 2002, the European Union launched a regulation demanding airways verify the passenger boarding the plane is identical one that checked of their baggage, which meant checking ID each at baggage check-in and when boarding. Later within the decade, fingerprint IDs and retina and iris scanning was launched in some nations.

The creation of the TSA

Airport screening within the US was piecemeal, undertaken by personal safety corporations appointed by airways or airports.

As a part of the brand new safety act, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was launched in November 2001. Now an company of the US Department of Homeland Security, which was fashioned a 12 months later, the TSA took over all the safety features of the FAA and US airways and airports.

Looking again 20 years later, O’Keefe mirrored that it was “an enormous challenge in that immediate time afterward to mobilize a whole new cadre of security forces, thousands of trained professionals to do this.”

“It was not without its flaws,” he added. “Recruiting issues and right training and all the things that were necessary: We went through plenty of fits and starts to make that happen.”

The undeniable fact that America’s “allies and friends and partners” world wide “had already been through this,” was an enormous profit, he stated. “We were able to learn from them, how they did it and what they did.”

Security screening

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 25: Prohibited items that were found during TSA check point screening and voluntarily abandoned by travelers are on display during a news conference at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport May 25, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia. U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas held the news conference to discuss "aviation security ahead of the busy summer travel season." (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Prohibited gadgets, found by the TSA throughout screening and voluntarily deserted by vacationers, on show at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in May 2021.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Before lengthy, with the brand new streamlined enforcement by the TSA, potential weapons like blades, scissors and knitting needles have been not allowed on board, and airport staff have been higher educated to detect weapons or explosives.

By the tip of 2002, the TSA met a key mandate of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act by deploying explosives detection techniques nationwide. In the next years, different terrorists assaults would additional change what we may and couldn’t deliver on board planes.

In August 2006, a foiled plot to detonate liquid explosives on a number of transatlantic flights led to at this time’s restrictions on liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on baggage. That similar month, the TSA started requiring passengers to take away their sneakers to display for explosives — 5 years after the “shoe bomber” incident of 2001 — and the company additionally deployed federal air marshals abroad.
Metal detectors have been normal at airports earlier than 9/11, however by March 2010 — a number of months after the “underwear bomber” was apprehended on a Christmas Day flight after a botched midair assault utilizing a tool hidden beneath his clothes — full physique scanners have been beginning to be put in at US airports, and about 500 have been in motion by the tip of that 12 months.
By July 2017, in response to elevated terrorist curiosity in hiding improvised explosive gadgets inside business electronics and different carry-on gadgets, the TSA started requiring vacationers to position all private electronics bigger than a cellphone in bins for X-ray screening. By the next February, facial recognition know-how was additionally being piloted.

Safety on board

“It used to be (that getting) into a cockpit on an American aircraft that was flying in American airspace was as easy as the doors you use to get into the (toilet),” O’Keefe recalled.

Bulletproof and locked cockpits turned normal on business passenger plane inside two years of 9/11.

The Arming Pilots Against Terrorism Act was signed into regulation in November 2002, and by the next April, the primary weapon-carrying pilots have been on board US business flights.

While aviation followers and kids may as soon as hope to get a go to to the flight deck, that dream swiftly got here to an finish.

Private jet pilot and social media star Raymon Cohen informed CNN Travel in July that he believes the unprecedented inaccessibility added to flying’s mystique.

“People are not welcome in the cockpit anymore, so it’s like a big secret,” Cohen stated. “Now this (following pilots on Instagram) is one of the only ways people can see what’s happening.”

Passenger confidence

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 2: A Transportation Security Administration agent checks the boarding pass of a traveler after Terminal 3 was re-opened a day after a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport November 2, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The airport is almost back to normal operations a day after a man pulled out an assault rifle and shot his way through security at Terminal 3, killing one Transportation Security Administration worker and wounding several others. Federal officials identified the alleged gunman as Paul Ciancia, 23. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Boarding passes are checked at Los Angeles International Airport the day after gunman Paul Ciancia shot his manner by way of safety in November 2013.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The instant affect of 9/11 included an enormous drop in journey demand. Not solely had passenger confidence taken successful, however the extra safety meant the flying expertise was not quick and hassle-free.

In 2006, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimated that airline revenues from home US flights fell by $10 billion a 12 months between 2001 and 2006. For comparability, the web losses globally because of the Covid pandemic in 2020 have been $126.4 billion in whole, based on the IATA.
In a examine from 2005 on the affect of 9/11 on street fatalities, Cornell University’s Garrick Blalock, Vrinda Kadiyali and Daniel H. Simon discovered a rise in vacationers selecting to drive moderately than fly. The unintended consequence of this was that “driving fatalities increased significantly following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.” They estimated {that a} whole of 1,200 extra driving deaths previously 5 years have been attributable to the impact of 9/11.

Speaking to CNN forward of the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, Kadiyali stated, “There’s been the fall of Kabul and and all these recent events in Afghanistan (…) It did cross my mind whether people would start getting nervous about flying again.”

Delays, lengthy strains and confusion over restrictions are additionally all again on the agenda within the pandemic period.

As as to whether one thing like 9/11 may occur once more, O’Keefe mirrored upon the truth that the best achievements of Homeland Security, and of safety providers world wide, can by no means be shared with most people.

“In the process of educating the public, what you also do is educate the terrorists,” so we’ll by no means know of all of the near-misses, he stated. “You almost get into a false sense of security.”

That September morning in 2001 “flipped the switch right away from almost non-existent security to unbelievable, in-your-face, all the time.”

However, 20 years later, there have been no aviation-based terrorist assaults anyplace close to the dimensions of 9/11. Said O’Keefe, “These security measures have worked.”

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