NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Airport security has changed drastically since terrorists used American aircrafts to kill thousands of people on U.S. soil September 1, 2001.
“You didn’t have to have an ID to come into the airport, and basically you could bring friends and family into the airport and watch you depart,” explains Federal Security Director for Tennessee, Steve Wood.
Two decades later, most of what travelers experience at checkpoints today was born out of terrorist plots.
Rewind to November of 2001, when a man known as the “Shoe Bomber” attempted to detonate a bomb.
Now, shoes are sent through X-ray machines.
Then in 2006, a liquids explosive plot was stopped, and the 3.4-ounce limit started.
Fast forward to Christmas Day 2009, the so-called “Underwear Bomber” detonated a non-metallic device, which is why we now walk through an oversized device with our hands above our heads.
“It’s called Advanced Imaging Technology. This expands to be able to detect non-metallic threats not just metallic,” says Wood.
Other terrorist acts add to the heightened vigilance at security checkpoints. In fact, travelers at Nashville International Airport (BNA) are assessed before they ever make it to the airport.
“We put a system in place called Secure Flight,” explains Wood. “We require the airlines to put the reservation information and do a matching process.”
If a traveler is considered a potential threat, based on previous criminal activity among other factors, then they’re added to a watch list.
If they’re flagged, “[TSA agents] would see the notification that that person is on the watch list, and he would call a supervisor for additional screening,” Wood says.
K-9 units frequently deploy on busy travel days as another layer of protection. They too identify travelers who require additional screening.
A new X-ray system helps agents examine bags, not in 2D, but rather in 3D. “The operator can actually rotate the bag and see inside of it without necessarily having to call a bag check,” says Wood.
Once in the sky, air marshals are still on some flights. Additionally, with the recent uptick of unruly passengers, flight crews will start training at Federal Air Marshals facilities to learn how to step in “to improve their ability to restrain passengers that need to be restrained and also to be able to protect themselves.”
It’s all part of a nationwide effort to keep everyone safe.
September 11, 2001, was a day that changed our country and the world. The fight against terrorism has not ended. Some state and federal law enforcement agencies say we cannot let our guard down. News 2 digs deeper with special reports ‘9/11: 20 Years Later’ all day Thursday in every newscast and on WKRN.com.