As one of the most impactful events in recent American history, Sept. 11 changed the many aspects of day-to-day life, including air travel not just in the U.S. but across the globe.
Travel is never going to feel the same as it did before 9/11 but the hope is it will continue become more efficient while also evolving to protect against a similar tragedy.
Flights were grounded within hours of the attack jolting the government into action.
Bob Orr was a travel and security correspondent who reported on the attacks and then watched as the TSA was born.
“It was unimaginable,” Orr said adding that, “Security is necessary. TSA exists because it should’ve been there a long time ago, in some form.”
Bob McLaughlin works as the TSA Federal Security director at Southwest Florida International Airport and he was involved with flight security even before the attacks.
“We looked at many different facets of enhancing security. Prior to 9/11, everything was like a partnership, it was contracted out,” McLaughlin said. “At that point, we decided to develop our own workforce and dedicate to the security mission.”
In November of 2001, just months after the attacks, President George Bush’s administration created the Transportation Security Administration.
The initial annual budget was just over $1.2 billion.
Most recently, it was more than $8 billion during the fiscal year 2021, records show.
“A vast amount of money is spent on the advanced technologies and on the training itself, the workforce,” McLaughlin said.
The TSA process might feel draining at times but the agency says it’s constantly adding in more efficient equipment and methods.
TSA officials said the agency has a research and development team that is constantly working on new tech.
Much can change in the future.
Machines now can show if passengers are carrying potentially dangerous or explosive substances while newer machines reveal if travelers have leftovers of substances on their hands.
“We are a counter-terrorist agency. We have evolved,” McLaughlin said. “I think it will get faster and the machines will eventually get smaller.”
Orr said terrorism is going to be a long problem the world faces.
“This is going to be with us for a long time,” Orr said. “Terrorism didn’t start in 01 and end in 02 … This is a small price to pay. Inconvenience or a slight delay.”