The Airport Security Since September 11, 2001

The United States of America has suffered two catastrophic attacks in 19th and 20th centuries exposing major cracks on the intelligence system of the world’s mightiest nation. December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese and September 11, 2001, by the Islamic terrorists. The two events may be termed as “predictable surprises” (Bazerman, & Watkins, 2005). The attacks were predictable because the government had prior intelligence indicating imminent attacks but ignored to put the necessary measures that would avert the attacks. Whether the attacks caught the nation by surprise or not, it is evidently clear the attacks were consequences of disastrous intelligence lapse.

September 11, 2001, was undeniably a defining moment in the United States. According to Lester (2013), an estimated 2819 people perished following the attacks, a figure that is slightly lower than the 1941 Pearl Harbor attacks. Certainly, the September 9/11 is by far the worst terrorist attacks to have hit the United States in the 21st century. Following the attacks, citizens questioned the state of domestic security. A sense of widespread fear could be smelt in the air as the government strived to restore security measures. But one thing was evidently clear; the intelligence of the country needed thorough changes following the devastating failures.

The United States’ allies came together to help the country back on its feet because they never knew where the terrorists would strike next. In response to the attacks, a set of new security regulations for passenger safety were enacted (Blalock, Kadiyali, & Simon, 2007). A week after the devastating attacks, President Bush’s government formed the Transport Security Administration. The TSA was formed with the main objective of reinforcing security measures in the US airports, by safeguarding both local and international destined passengers..

Following the September 11 attacks, American citizens experienced rapid changes in airports. Initially, it was rare to find long queues of people but after the attacks, people were subjected to thorough scrutiny thus, contributing to long queues. According to Blalock et al (2007), domestic flight passengers were instructed to arrive as early as two hours before the flight time. As though screening was not enough, passengers were further subjected to additional searching procedures. In a nutshell, security checkpoints in all the airports were doubled to ensure the safety of passengers.

The TSA only allowed passengers with valid tickets at the secure airport areas. Initially, passengers were allowed into airport concourse accompanied by their friends, family members, and relatives. But immediately after the September 11 tragedy, the TSA introduced new airport security policies that only allowed ticketed passengers. Most American citizens detested the new policy although it was arguably one of the best measures to step up security in the airport.

Another significant step the government made in changing the airport security following the September 11, 2001 attacks the pilot protection. The terrible attacks compelled the aviation industry to configure new ways of shielding pilots and the co-pilots in the cockpit. Nowadays, pilots and copilots are shielded with bullet-proof doors thus securing the cockpit from potential attacker and hijackers. Once the flight has taken off, passengers cannot access the cockpit. Moreover, the government rolled out the Federal Flight Deck Officer program whose primary objective was to allow pilots to travel with guns for self-defense purposes as well as defend the flight in case there is an attack.

The number of US Federal Marshals in flights was increased further efforts to safeguard passengers and flights. The US Federal Marshals were part of the US aviation in even prior the September 11. 2001 attacks. However, the number was increased due to the increasing number of commercial flights on a daily basis. The number of commercial flights has been on the rise every year thus calling for the need to increase the presence of the Federal Marshals. However, not every flight in the United States is assigned federal marshals due to the increasing number of commercial flights.

Security screening at the airports has been improved thanks to the rapid technology inventions. Initially, scanning at the airports was not effective in curbing security threats. Nowadays, screening procedures at airports involve full-body checks that utilize the highly sophisticated technical equipment. Anything that the airport personnel deems suspicious on the scan is subjected to further scrutiny. Moreover, the number of sniffer dogs in airports has been increased further. Sniffer dogs are not only used for detecting drugs but also hidden explosives.

The costs of running airports in the US is insanely high. This has resulted from the increased security threats and government efforts to ensure maximum security at the airports. The Transport Security Administration body which is mandated in providing security at airports has been spending billions on US dollars in implementing security measures at the airports. However, there are ways through which the government can minimize the costs and offer effective solutions to common airports problems. One of the brilliant solutions the government can implement is by increasing the number of security checkpoints as well as the airport security personnel. This may sound absurd but definitely, it can help in minimizing the usually experienced insane queues at the airports. Nowadays, flight delays are very common due to the increased number of passengers traveling yet the security checkpoints are not swift. Increasing security personnel, as well as the security checkpoints, may help in speeding up services at the airport thus, reducing congestion. Another way of reducing security costs at the airports is by using constructing extra airports to cater for the surging number of passengers. Limiting the number of passengers traveling within and outside the country may not be an ideal solution to cutting security costs at the airports. The government must create additional airports to reduce congestions that are currently experienced in most airports thus ending the common problem of flight delays.