How 9/11 changed travel forever

(CNN) — When this century started, you might 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 safety to wave you goodbye. You won’t have a photograph ID in your carry-on, however you might 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 risk 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 almost 30 years since Palestinian terrorist assaults at Rome airport in 1973, which killed 34 folks and demonstrated that air journey was susceptible 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 totally different home flights within the northeastern US in a collection 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. 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 hundreds of thousands of individuals all over the world watching the identical scenes dwell after the primary airplane hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower, O’Keefe and his companions assumed they had been witnessing a horrible accident, a matter for the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation.

But when the second airplane 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 modified 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 traces 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, could 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 susceptible 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, more durable safety measures had been launched as quickly as civilian air journey resumed on September 14. The National Guard offered armed army personnel at airports, and vacationers confronted lengthy traces as the brand new programs obtained their begin.

Those early post-9/11 passengers — individuals who hadn’t canceled or rescheduled their journeys — had 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 legitimate government-issued identification to be able to fly, even on home flights. Airports may test the ID of passengers or employees at any time to substantiate that it matched the main points on their boarding go.

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

Around the world, international locations turned extra stringent with id checks, safety screening and their very own variations of the No Fly List. In 2002, the European Union introduced a regulation demanding airways affirm the passenger boarding the plane is identical one who 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 introduced in some international locations.

The creation of the TSA

Airport screening within the US was piecemeal, undertaken by personal safety firms 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 shaped a yr 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 indisputable fact that America’s “allies and friends and partners” all over the world “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 had been not allowed on board, and airport staff had been higher educated to detect weapons or explosives.

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

In August 2006, a foiled plot to detonate liquid explosives on a number of transatlantic flights led to in the present day’s restrictions on liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on baggage. That identical month, the TSA began requiring passengers to remove their shoes to display for explosives — 5 years after the “shoe bomber” incident of 2001 — and the company additionally deployed federal air marshals abroad.
Metal detectors had been customary 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 had been beginning to be put in at US airports, and about 500 had been in motion by the top of that yr.
By July 2017, in response to elevated terrorist curiosity in hiding improvised explosive gadgets inside industrial electronics and different carry-on gadgets, the TSA started requiring vacationers to position all private electronics bigger than a cellular phone in bins for X-ray screening. By the next February, facial recognition technology 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 customary on industrial 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 had been on board US industrial 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 told 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 safety in November 2013.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The fast influence of 9/11 included an enormous drop in journey demand. Not solely had passenger confidence taken successful, however the further 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 year between 2001 and 2006. For comparability, the web losses globally as a result of Covid pandemic in 2020 had been $126.4 billion in total, in accordance with the IATA.
In a examine from 2005 on the impact of 9/11 on road fatalities, Cornell University’s Garrick Blalock, Vrinda Kadiyali and Daniel H. Simon discovered a rise in vacationers selecting to drive somewhat 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} complete of 1,200 further driving deaths up to now 5 years had 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 traces 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 companies all over the world, 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, twenty years later, there have been no aviation-based terrorist assaults wherever close to the dimensions of 9/11. Said O’Keefe, “These security measures have worked.”

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