A Look Back at the History of the TSA

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening process may not be the most luxurious aspect of airport travel, but it is certainly the most important step to ensure the safety of passengers, pilots, and airline workers across the United States and abroad.

In response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, President Bush formally signed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act into law on November 19, 2001. Noted in the TSA Official Timeline, security screening conducted by federal officials, 100 percent checked bag screening, expansion of the Federal Air Marshal Service and reinforced bulletproof cockpit doors became mandatory procedures at airports. TSA was first introduced to govern transportation security.

Only a month after the Aviation and Transportation Security Act was signed into law, airports were faced with yet another dangerous crisis. In December 2001, Richard Reid, who is now infamously known as the shoe bomber, used matches in an unsuccessful attempt to detonate a shoe bomb boarding a flight from Paris to Miami. The attempted attack led to the implementation of explosives detection systems to screen bags and luggage for explosives.

In August 2006, a similar explosive attack was initiated, the Transatlantic Aircraft Plot. Terrorists planned to detonate liquid explosives onboard 10 aircrafts travelling from the UK to the United States and Canada, until British police intervened to uncover the plot. In direct response to the liquid explosives, TSA banned all liquids, gels, and aerosol products from passenger carry-on bags, along with requiring passengers to remove their shoes to screen for additional explosives.

In December 2009, another terrorist, the Underwear Bomber, planned to detonate plastic explosives concealed in his underwear onboard a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. To handle the crisis, TSA introduced advanced imaging technology to scan full bodies for the detection of non-metallic explosives, weapons, and additional threats underneath layers of clothing. A security pat down measure is also used, if necessary.

With every attack and transportation crisis, TSA finds a solution to ensure it never happens again. Across decades of time, TSA continues to enhance and improve their security screenings as necessary — such as increasing the number of random searches of passengers and luggage and implementing automated screening lanes to gather X-ray images of the contents inside carry-on bags. Every measure matters.

And although you may feel stressed during the TSA screening process, from removing your shoes to piling valuable items into a plastic bin while anxiously waiting to catch your flight, every measure taken serves a vital purpose for your protection and safety. To help ease some of the stress and uncertainty from the TSA screening process, App in the Air helps to update you on how long of a wait to expect at the airport security lines before catching your next flight.

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