How the 9/11 attacks changed airline and airport security – An infographic timeline

Our timeline takes a look back at the sweeping changes we have seen in aviation security in the decade since 9/11.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this weekend, TERMINAL U remembers the 2,977 people killed in the attacks at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and in the United Airlines crash in Pennsylvania. We also remember those who have lost families and friends.

Each time we fly, we are reminded how 9/11 has changed the way we travel in ways we couldn’t have imagined – whether we’re waiting in a long security line, taking off our shoes for screening, getting a pat-down or full body scan, discarding our tweezers or sitting on an aircraft with locked, reinforced, cockpit doors.

Our timeline takes a look back at the sweeping changes we have seen in aviation security in the decade since 9/11.

How air travel has been affected by 9/11

The FAA expands prohibited items list on aircraft to include items with a point or cutting edge.

The US regulator recommends that cockpit doors are reinforced on US carriers.

The Bush Administration announces plans to put Sky Marshals on American carriers.

The US government forms the Transportation Security Department (TSA), with responsibility for airport screening.

Explosive detection screening is introduced for checked bags.

Travellers are required to submit ‘Advanced passenger information’ for flights into US

Passengers are required to remove shoes for separate screening, after a terrorist made an unsuccessful attempt at detonating plastic explosives in his shoes on a Paris to Miami flight.

Planes carrying more than 60 passengers are mandated to install hardened, locked cockpit doors.

The US begins fingerprinting non US-citizens entering the country

100ml liquids, aerosols and gels restrictions are introduced at security checkpoints after a foiled liquid explosives plot at London Heathrow.

Laptops are required to be removed from bags and screened separately.

Amsterdam Schiphol becomes the first airport to trial full body scanners, after a terrorist failed to ignite explosives sewn in his underpants on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

The TSA introduces ‘pat-downs’ on passengers at US airports.

Behind-the-scenes, a fundamental change in airline security has been a recognition of the need to share intelligence between agencies to prevent further terrorist attacks. There are still challenges to enhancing passenger data sharing, including privacy concerns associated with storing people’s data.

And while extra security requirements have arguably made flying more secure today, travellers will continue to experience wildly different, or overlapping security checks when passing through or transferring at different airports. The industry is looking at ways to streamline security, with baseline security standards around the world, and that is the next big challenge to securing the skies.

More next week

Next week, we look at major changes in the last decade that have occurred on airlines and are unrelated to security.

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What others have said

  1. This time link is great but the crap on the side is annoying! Like seriously you cant even READ the time line information. I had to copy and paste it.

    • Louise Driscoll

      Hi Jane, thanks for your comment. It was a formatting issue that sneaked in during our recent redesign, so thanks for bringing it to our attention. Hope you enjoyed the article. Louise (Editor)

  2. You’d almost think they were intentionally stripping away our rights and freedoms one at a time and just using “international terrorism” as the excuse…

  3. Really annoyed it has got to this point, especially with the pat-downs in the US. I do think more behind-the-scenes security is better and necessary, rather than strip searching us all the time.

    Great infographic guys, really snazzy.

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