5 Ways September 11 Changed Airports Forever

The devastating events of September 11, 2001, are engrained in the fabric of American society. From remembering the tragic deaths of nearly 3,000 people to the way that American officials respond to terrorist activity, it changed the way our country operates.

The most obvious change to life in America, though, is that of air travel security. Since 2001, airports have stepped up the seriousness in both technology and manpower that keeps travelers everywhere safe. It's obvious in every step you take in an airport, from the second you grab your ticket to the moment your flight lands.

A host of things changed after 9/11 in an attempt to keep plane hijackings from compromising security again. Of course, airline safety is always changing—just look at the quick precautions that airports everywhere have put into place during COVID. But some things we consider normal travel procedures were born in the wake of the terrorist attack that changed America forever.

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A retrofitted Lufthansa plane equipped with medical isolation facilities for Ebola cases arrives for a media presentation at Tegel airport on November 27, 2014, in Berlin, Germany. Getty/Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The TSA Was Born

The Transportation Security Administration simply didn't exist before 9/11. Now, the airport officials are a staple in your boarding routine, but they didn't appear in airports until 2002. They operate as government officials under the Department of Homeland Security, a unit of the government that also wasn't born until after the terrorist attacks.

Security Screening Techniques

Most everything you know about airport safety protocols was entirely new after September 11. Removing your shoes during security, stricter bag scanning, full-body scans, no large liquids and no knives on planes were all put in place as an attempt to identify bombs before boarding, according to Business Insider and Fox News.

Stricter Airport Boundaries

Another major change? Loved ones are no longer allowed to pass through security, or meet their travelers at the plane's gate. That way, the airport is restricted to serious travelers.

Pilot Safety

Airplanes have new safety measures, too. The cockpit now locks so no passenger is able to access the airplane's controls. Even when a pilot needs to leave the cockpit, flight attendants are trained to protect it to prevent anyone from taking over.

No Successful Hijackings Since

All of these changes appear to have been effective. Hijackings are considered to be rare, by experts, since the changes were put in place. That means air travel is much safer than it was before 9/11.

While hijacking attempts have certainly taken place, procedures have stopped them from being successful. One attempt saw the so-called "Underwear Bomber" attempt to blow up an American flight in 2009 on Christmas Day. He was unsuccessful and sentenced to life in prison in 2012.