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How 9/11 changed air travel forever

On September 12, 2001, a Continental Express plane was sitting at a closed airport in Newark, NJ following a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, causing smoke to continue to erupt from the remains of the World Trade Center. Airplane. One of the hijacked planes left Newark Airport and later crashed near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Tanen Morley | AFP | Getty Images

More than one-fifth of the US population is too young to remember how they traveled by air before September 11, 2001.

Passenger loved ones were once able to greet and say goodbye at the gate. Travelers did not have to take off their shoes or belts or remove liquid from their carry-on baggage before passing the checkpoint, not to mention waiting on a long security line. It was years ago that airlines asked passengers to check their bags and choose their seats, but today’s average domestic fares are cheaper.

From airport security to flight attendant training to the number of airlines that exist, the entire industry has been reshaped by the worst terrorist attacks in US history. On that clear blue morning at the end of summer, 19 hijackers turned four Boeing jet airliners (two American Airlines and two United Airlines planes) into missiles. They crashed two at the World Trade Center and one at the Pentagon. The fourth crashed in a field in southern Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attack.

The car sits outside Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), which was closed on September 11, 2001 due to air raids on New York and Washington, DC in Los Angeles, California.

David McNew | Getty Images

Industry shock

Canceled flights will be displayed on the monitor at the Los Angeles Airport Terminal in Los Angeles, CA on September 10, 2001.

Jason Kirk | Getty Images

Watching the event unfold, “I started thinking: why is this happening and someone wants to travel again?”

Global passenger transport has recovered, but it took two years as travelers were reluctant to fly and travel demand plummeted due to attacks and recession.

US airlines lost $ 8 billion in 2001. The industry did not make a profit again until 2006. Losses exceeded $ 60 billion over the five years, and airlines lost money again during the 2008 Great Recession. The 9/11 incident has reduced the number of employees by tens of thousands, and workers have faced significant wage cuts. Only Covid Pandemic has Threatened more work However, a record $ 54 billion in federal bailout prevented airlines from dismissing staff.

A stranded traveler will wait at the United Airlines terminal at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, on September 11, 2001.

Tim Boyle | Getty Images

Even before the pandemic, US airline employment had not yet recovered to its peak in 2001.

Integration and pricing

The plane is sitting at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) parking lot, which was closed on September 11, 2001 due to air raids on New York and Washington, DC in Los Angeles, California.

David McNew | Getty Images

In the years following 9/11, some major airlines have stopped offering free meals and instead started selling food to offset rising fuel costs and other financial burdens. I requested a check bag from the customer.During ~ 10 years of continuous profit It was stopped by COVID-19 Pandemic Last year, the airline Coach cabin When I entered a small class, I started charging for certain seats, even if I didn’t have the extra foot space. There are also early boarding and other benefits.

Legroom has been reduced as follows More seats have been added to the plane Maximize your bottom line.Generated airline Billions of dollars from passenger fares In recent years, but between 1999 and 2019, the average price of domestic itineraries fell from $ 530 to $ 323 during inflation adjustments, according to the Ministry of Transport.

“Consumer demand for services offered by airlines is enormous, and that’s true today and even among Covids,” said Gary Kennedy, a corporate lawyer for American Airlines from 2003 to 2014. increase. Profit is difficult. “

Security review

Airport security was handled by a private contractor before September 11, looser than in the years following the attack, and there was little scrutiny of checked baggage. Travelers were able to pass through metal detectors and friends and family could take them to the gate. Airport passenger screening for weapons or firearms mandated by the federal government in 1973 was aimed at stopping hijacking, which was much more common in the 1960s and early 1970s.

According to a January 1973 article in , the airline told passengers to arrive 15 to 30 minutes earlier than usual for a new screening.

Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla) was smuggled into Florida airport security last Friday, along with the same box cutter used by a terrorist who hijacked four airlines on September 11, 2001. , We will exhibit the utility tool with the blade removed. In an exercise by undercover investigators to detect flaws in our “new” security standards.

Mark F. Cipher | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. Getty Images

Fast forward in 2001, it hasn’t changed much. The knife and box cutter that the hijacker boarded on September 11, 2001 easily passed the checkpoint. They weren’t banned.

After the attack, in November 2001, then President George W. Bush signed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, which created the Transportation Security Administration, and handed over passenger screening to federal officials. The Federal Air Marshal Service has also been added.

Anna Carriero (L) of Italy is watching traffic safety officer worker Tracy Albert pass Carriero’s carry-on bag at the boarding gate of American Airlines in Los Angeles, California on August 11, 2006. increase.

Nick Ut | Getty Images

After that, passengers were forbidden to carry knives, razor blades and other sharp objects on board.

“The 9/11 system was basically the same as it started in 1973,” said Jeff, who taught aviation safety management at Metropolitan State University in Denver and was the airport director at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport on September 11, 2001.・ Price said. “Today’s system looks like Swiss cheese with certain gaps. I think the pre-9.11 system is a huge hole in the middle of the cheese. I’m surprised that no one is abusing it. It was in the last 20 years. “

No hijacking has occurred in US soil since 9/11. As security threats have changed, so have screening procedures. Failed plots, such as the 2001 “Shoe Bomber” attempt, allow most travelers to take off their shoes at the checkpoint. Liquids and gels are not allowed in carry-on baggage, except in small containers, after British authorities suspended terrorist programs to carry liquid explosives on board in 2006.

Passengers will enter the Transport Security Agency (TSA) pre-checkline to the Security Checkpoint at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA on Tuesday, December 23, 2014.

Geroge Frey | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Travelers who choose to pay for pre-screening services such as TSA’s PreCheck can undergo a background check and bypass some of the checkpoint screening procedures.

According to Price, current screening systems are partly aimed at deterring terrorists.

“We need both real security measures and a small security theater to increase deterrence,” he said.

The TSA has faced criticism in recent years after a Homeland Security oversight agency discovered in 2015 that agents had a 95% chance of missing a test weapon. Last year, airport TSA agents captured 3,257 firearms, double that of 2019.

TSA administrator David Pekoske defended the agency.

“Our system is much more risk-based and more intelligent than in 2002,” he said in an interview. “We continue to improve every day.”

According to Price, threats such as cybersecurity issues and drones are evolving.

Change of job of flight attendant

The 9/11 attacks had a serious impact on the flight crew. Eight pilots and 25 flight attendants worked on the four hijacked flights.

The Kendias-CWA Trade Union, Chairman of the United Branch of the Flight Attendants Association, remembers checking in a flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to Chicago on the morning of September 11. Some of his friends were crew members of Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

United Airlines Flight Attendant flagged United Airlines Flight 93 in the field of Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2006, to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I raised it.

Jeff Swensen | Getty Images

Sara Nelson, the international president of the union, which represents about 50,000 flight attendants on more than a dozen airlines, put her hands on her neck during takeoff when she returned to the plane in late September 2001. The hijacker never cuts through his throat and “will get our hands instead.”

Julia Simpson, a Boston-based flight attendant at the time, said the airline would schedule flight attendants with friends for the months following the attack for additional emotional support. He said he allowed it.

More than 40% of United’s flight attendants were hired after 9/11, as are more than one-third of Americans. However, Nelson said flight attendant training is still informed by these events.

“By the time they get the wings, it’s the basis of the training they’ve received,” she said, he started as a United flight attendant in 1996.

Diaz said there are new steps, such as notifying the crew when pilots leave the flight deck and use the toilet. Flight attendants will also be distributed throughout the cabin during boarding.

However, demands on flight attendants have increased over the years. Airlines have reduced their workforce to federal minimums on many flights, initially domestically and later internationally. According to Diaz, the Boeing 757 typically has six to four flight attendants from the 9/11 era.

Airlines also pay attention to capacity and the planes will be more full. January 2000, usually a low-demand month, was about 63% full for US flights. In January 2020, just before the pandemic, they were 80% full.

“As the planes are more full, they will jump to help the crew in need. All airlines have reduced their workforce, increasing the burden on each flight attendant.” Said Diaz.

Nelson argues that airlines must do more to strengthen flight attendant training. The TSA has begun offering self-defense classes since 9/11, but they remain optional and flight attendants are required to pay for transportation and take advantage of them at their own time.

Classes have recently resumed after Covid’s hiatus, and the union says it has grown in interest, partly due to the surge in unruly and sometimes violent passenger behavior over the past year.

Nelson replied “never” when asked if she wouldn’t think about 9/11 when she started working on the plane.

American Airlines employee Tamara Ronkiro (2nd-R) holds hands with colleagues while observing the moment of silence of the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2006 simultaneous prayer at Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida. is.

Joe Ladle | Getty Images

How 9/11 changed air travel forever

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