The TSA 10 Years After 9/11

On the approaching ten year anniversary of September 11, 2001, the TSA highlights policies and procedures it has implemented in the last decade to make air travel safer.

In a recent blog post, the TSA poses the question, “How has the TSA made air travel safer?”

It answers the question with these examples:

  • In-Flight Security – Hardened cockpit doors, Federal Flight Deck Officers, the Crew Member Self Defense Training Program and an expanded Federal Air Marshal Service, better protect the flight deck against an act of criminal violence or air piracy.
  • 100% Screening – Through Secure Flight, 100% of passengers flying to, from, and within the U.S. are prescreened against government watchlists. TSA screens 100 percent of checked baggage for dangerous items including explosives, and 100% of all air cargo transported on passenger aircraft that depart U.S. airports is screened.
  • Professionalized Workforce – The Transportation Security Officers (TSO) working at 450 airports today are hired through a rigorous vetting process and extensive training that did not exist for the contract personnel who worked the security checkpoints on 9/11. TSOs have an average of 3.5 years of experience on the job, compared with the average of 3 months of experience for screeners prior to 9/11. Prior to 9/11, turnover in the industry was over 125 percent – today, TSA’s turnover rate is 6.4 percent.
  • New Technology – Today through Advanced Imaging Technology and Automated Target Recognition, we can detect metallic and nonmetallic threats including weapons and explosives concealed under layers of clothing on passengers without physical contact. And, using Advanced Technology X-ray, Bottled Liquid Scanners and Explosives Trace Detection (ETD) Technology, we can more efficiently and effectively screen luggage and belongings for potential threats.
  • Information Sharing and Detection – Through Secure Flight, Travel Document Checking and collaboration with our international partners, we can identify passengers who pose a risk to security, verify someone is who they say there are, and better protect the entire global aviation system.

The TSA and its policies were created in response to the terrorist attacks, but they haven’t come without controversy.

During the same time period, in particular during the last few years, that controversy has been spotlighted with public scrutiny over the implementation of body scanners and pat-downs. Some have even raised the question as to whether or not the TSA is racially profiling with hair pat-downs, and there have been outcries over pat-downs in cases such as the elderly woman who had to remove her adult diaper or patting down children. readers have expressed a trend in surveys we have conducted in the past that the TSA’s policies make them less inclined to fly. Studies have suggested that some of the procedures have cut down on the numbers of air travelers.

Some state legislators have even put forth legislation to ban TSA pat downs in their states. A Utah lawmaker plans to introduce a bill, and Texas put forth a bill that ultimately did not pass.

What do you think? Is America’s air travel system safer a decade later for the reasons the TSA lists here? Do you feel safer flying, or are you less inclined to fly because of the security procedures? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.