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Airport Transportation Security After 9/11 Attacks

The threat of cargo tampering, terrorist or other illegal use, or criminal attack on the supply chain makes transportation safety a significant concern. Misuse of transportation methods and equipment, such as a whole or empty container, might provide a security risk to the consignment. According to the book, “No one can ever be completely secure all of the time” (Button, 2016). These can be attached to the transport vehicle during loading and unloading, as well as during storage. Documentation can be manipulated to deceive private transportation companies and government agencies. Due to the large volume of cargo transported, security control necessitates clear procedures that are strictly followed, monitoring of goods during transport and storage, detailed and precise information and documentation on goods and parties involved in shipping and transportation, and risk management systems that zoom in on high-risk transport, operators, and routes. Countries worldwide have taken initiatives to enhance security in the supply chain, especially during the physical movement of goods, to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of security procedures, control measures, and actions. Some of these programs are mandated by law, while others are voluntary certification programs.

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The air, land, and sea transportation networks of the United States are built for accessibility and efficiency, two qualities that render them vulnerable to assault. Because of the complexity and expense of defending the transportation sector from attack, officials must decide how much time and money to devote to guarding possible targets versus pursuing and combating terrorists. According to the research, “Security is an issue of great concern in the transportation sector as terrorists and terrorist tactics are evolving” (Clement, 2019). While securing the transportation sector against terrorist attacks is difficult, terrorists can be deterred by taking certain precautions. The main point of contention is building best and funding a deterrent, protection, and response system that successfully decreases the likelihood and effects of another terrorist attack while not unreasonably restricting travel, business, and civil freedoms.

Changes after 9/11

Airport security was fundamentally transformed because of 9/11; standards were far more lenient at airports around the United States; airports and airlines implemented specific common-sense regulations. However, people could do many things back then that would get them in serious problems nowadays. To go to the gate, no one used to have to take off their shoes, empty their wallets, or take half their goods out of their carry-on. At the airport, people could leave their shoes on the entire time. Plus, when people made their way to the airport and then to the gate, passengers could leave their laptops in their luggage. Passengers did not need a plane ticket to walk to a gate at the airport before 9/11. People may go to the airport with a friend or family member to see them go if they had the time. Today’s passengers have many fewer choices. When they need to pick someone up, most individuals wait in the arrivals lobby or baggage claim; some even wait in their car.

Before 9/11, water fountains probably had just as many bacteria as they do now. However, not long ago, a traveler may bring a water bottle to the airport with him. Nobody searched his things and seized toothpaste, sunscreen, and water bottles. Who would have guessed they might be turned into bombs? Staying hydrated nowadays entails avoiding the water fountains or paying a premium for a water bottle at a convenience store or restaurant near the gate. It is not exactly the most convenient approach to minimize dehydration and lower the risks of becoming sick when flying.

Following the 9/11 attacks, doubts were expressed about the efficiency of airport security at the time, as all hijackers were able to fly without incident despite bypassing current screening protocols. In the months and years after 9/11, security at various airports worldwide was enhanced to deter future terrorist plots. Before what happened, private security agencies hired by the airline or airport performed airport screening in the United States. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was established in the next several months to take over all of the FAA’s, airline’s, and airports’ security operations. Bulletproof and lockable cockpit doors became commonplace for commercial passenger planes, among other TSA improvements. In several countries, such as Sweden, Norway, and Finland, domestic aircraft were subjected to no or just periodic security inspections before 9/11. There were choices made on or shortly after 9/11 to implement thorough security inspections. It was adopted as soon as possible, but it took one to two years to deploy across the board because terminals were not always supplied with enough space. Many aircraft’s cockpit doors were strengthened and made bulletproof to prevent illegal entrance. During a flight, passengers are no longer permitted to access the cockpit. Some planes also have CCTV cameras installed, and pilots can keep an eye on what is going on in the cabin. Pilots can now carry handguns if they are appropriately trained and licensed. Extra air marshals have been assigned to planes in the United States to boost security.

Terrorists in the Airport

The metal detector was set off by hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar, Majed Moqed, and Nawaf al-Hazmi on the day of what happened. The hijackers were allowed to pass despite being inspected with a hand-held detector. Security camera video later revealed that several of the hijackers had box cutters strapped to their back pockets. At the time, certain planes permitted box cutters and other small tools on board. Since those times, airport security checkpoints have been greatly strengthened, and security officers have been better educated to identify firearms and explosives. Several U.S. airports now have full-body scanning scanners that employ millimeter wave technology to scan persons for hidden weapons or explosives, in addition to regular metal detectors. Early body scanners sparked much debate since the images they produced were considered graphic and invasive at the time. TSA screeners were effectively shown an image of each passenger’s nude body, which many people thought was a breach of privacy.

Terrorist Attacks in Depth

At three East Coast airports, groups of terrorists boarded four domestic planes and incapacitated the crews shortly after takeoff, with some of the personnel perhaps being stabbed with box cutters hidden by the hijackers. The hijackers then took possession of the planes, which were all huge and loaded with gasoline and destined towards the West Coast. American Airlines Flight 11 was piloted into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City after departing from Boston. Multiple hijackers were on each plane, and they used mace, tear gas or pepper spray to subdue flight attendants, and some persons aboard had been stabbed, according to passengers and crew members who contacted from the plane using the cabin air phone service and mobile phones. Pilots, flight attendants, and passengers were reportedly stabbed and killed by hijackers. According to the final, the hijackers had just acquired multi-function hand tools and numerous Leatherman-type utility knives with locking blades, which were not prohibited to passengers at the time but were not located among the hijackers’ belongings report of the 9/11 Commission.

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The Transportation Security Act

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is a U.S. government organization tasked with designing and enforcing regulations to maintain the safety of the nation’s transportation infrastructure. According to research, “Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Congress took swift action to create the Transportation Security Administration” (Elias et al., 2016). The agency was established by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, passed by Congress, and signed into law by President George W. Bush. The TSA was formerly part of the U.S. In the next two years, the Department of Transportation was moved to the newly constituted Department of Homeland Security.

The TSA Uprise

Since the 9/11 attacks, every element of our lives has changed, including our approach to transportation security. According to research, “Each year, a record number of loaded weapons are found in hand luggage at U.S. airports” (Uwaezuoke et al., 2020). The role of containerized freight and aviation and the security of land borders, sea, and air entry ports are explored in light of the circumstances before 9/11 and the developments that have transpired since then. The potential of energy and other technology and the function of foreign policy, economic and social growth, and conflict resolution are all examined, as are existing flaws and possible future advancements. The TSA improves the security of the nation’s transportation infrastructure while preserving people’s and commerce’s freedom of movement.

According to research, “The Transportation Security Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, represents the American choice to prioritize security over privacy at the airport and other places of public travel” (Wilkinson, 2020). TSA took over security at the nation’s airports and dispatched government personnel to inspect all commercial airline passengers and luggage within a year. The TSA uses professionals such as behavior detection agents, federal air marshals, and explosives specialists as part of its goal to keep the country’s transportation networks secure.

The Mission of the TSA

Airport security and avoiding airplane hijacking are two of the TSA’s fundamental goals and arguably the most well-known to the general public. TSA’s Secure Flight program now thoroughly vets all passengers traveling into, out of, and within the United States. At airports, uniformed transportation security officials search people and luggage for forbidden items. According to research, “TSA is used to screen passengers departing the airlines for illicit materials carried on someone’s body or in someone’s baggage and identity checks for domestic and international travel” (Palmer, 2020). Others work behind the scenes, reviewing passenger registers and comparing them to lists of persons suspected of being a security risk or on the verge of becoming one. They then decide who needs to be screened further or who should not be allowed to fly. With its Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response teams, who monitor trains and mass transportation networks and are easily recognizable as security agents, this organization also has a public face. Freight carriers going through the country’s roadways, goods entering U.S. ports and going on U.S. waterways, and freight moved via pipelines are all covered by the TSA.

The Budget of the TSA

Following the horrific terrorist events of 9/11, the Bush administration has had to deal with some setbacks in the battle against terrorism. According to research, “The U.S. led global war on terror has widened the gap between the west and the Muslim world” (Roy et al. 2020). According to Crawford, “since late 2001, the U.S. has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $6.4 trillion in budgetary costs related to and caused by post-9/11 wars through the Fiscal Year 2020. An estimated $5.4 trillion in current dollar appropriations and an additional minimum of $1 trillion for U.S. obligations to care for post-9/11 war veterans over the next several decades” (Crawford, 2019). Due to the commencement of a global fight against terror that has posed a threat to global security, the United States has been affected and victimized by its peace and security. Many American banks have been shut down, and over 3 million people have lost their employment as a result.


In summary, we can say that the 9/11 event significantly influenced the development of security in the United States and around the world. Using the example of the United States, the world realized that such an easy attitude to the transportation of passengers could lead to an accident, where terrorists, having studied the rules, found ways and opportunities to commit a terrorist act. By creating the right organizations, the U.S. government has prevented possible terrorist attacks to this day, ensuring security. Many people no longer remember what it was like before adopting the transport security act because the government provides the right help for its citizens.


Button, K. (2016). The economics and political economy of transportation security. Edward Elgar publishing.

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Clement, R. N. (2019). Airport security and TSA: A case study analysis (Doctoral dissertation, Northcentral University).

Crawford, N. C. (2019). United States budgetary costs and obligations of post-9/11 wars through FY2020: $6.4 trillion. Watson institute for international and public affairs, Brown University, 13.

Elias, B., Peterman, D. R., & Frittelli, J. (2016). Transportation security: Issues for the 114th Congress. Congressional research service.

Palmer, M. (2020). Transportation Security Administration (TSA): Issues, successes, and solutions. Research institute for european and american studies, Athens.

Roy, M. I., Nawab, M. W., & Rafique, S. (2020). The United States counter-terrorism strategy 2001-2020 (Evolution, prospects and challenges). Orient research journal of social sciences, 5(1), 56-70.

Uwaezuoke Jr, P., Sarmiento, A., & Steward, E. (2020). TSA & airport security: A case on weapons smuggling in the U.S.

Wilkinson, T. R. (2020). Whispers in the closet: Reflections on TSA and solitude. Crosscurrents, 70(2), 145-158.

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