How TSA is protecting airports 20 years after the 9/11 attacks


HONOLULU (KHON) — Saturday marks two decades since the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City, which changed the way people viewed airport safety.

Twenty years later, things look different thanks to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

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Lorie Dankers, TSA spokesperson, said the agency was formed because of the terrorist attacks. 

“TSA as an agency was formed in the aftermath of 9/11,” said Dankers. “So, there was 9/11 commission that made a lot of recommendation for aviation security and transportation security.”

Dankers said up until the 9/11 attacks, there wasn’t a federal agency that had previously carried out the responsibility of screening travelers for terrorist threats.

“If you think of a security checkpoint 20 years ago, it essentially was a walk-through metal detector with an x-ray where you would put your belongings on the x-ray conveyer belt, and they would go through,” said Dankers. “You would walk though a walk-though metal detector, and anybody who wanted could go into the airport and go out to the gate.”

Dankers said in the aftermath of 9/11 when TSA was established, they had to create new rules and regulations. 

Those rules include having passengers take off their shoes when entering the body x-ray, not allowing non-passengers to walk all the way up to the airport gate, and prohibiting high-risk items like pocketknives, ammunition, and box cutters.

“It’s interesting to note that at the time of 9/11, box cutters and small knives were allowed through the security checkpoint and on to the aircraft, and of course we know the weapon of choice for the 9/11 hijackers was a box cutter,” said Dankers. 

Even after TSA developed their prohibited item list, Dankers said they are constantly checking worldwide at international security threats.

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“Overseas where people have tried to use liquid explosives, printer cartridges explosives and electronics,” said Dankers. “We have modified our procedures to make sure that those threats that we see overseas don’t come to fruition here, and that’s why all the policies are in place.”

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