7 Ways Air Travel Changed After 9/11

The Sept. 11th terrorist attacks changed everything about air travel.  Before we were able to leave our clothes on, kiss our loved ones goodbye at the gate and bring on as much shampoo as we liked. Here are seven ways airline travel has changed since the attacks. 

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    Birth of the TSA  Love them or hate them, the Transportation Security Administration runs the ship when it comes to airport security.  Before 9/11, security was the responsibility of the airlines, which usually hired contractors to run checkpoints. At that time safety measures varied from airport to airport. But after the terror attacks all airports must adhere to the same standards.  Since its inception in Nov., 2001 TSA has spent $56.8 billion on aviation security, including passenger and baggage screening, according to the agency.
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    Shoes Off Please  Before 9/11 you could walk right on through the metal detector without unlacing a sneaker.   But thanks to Richard Reid- the notorious shoe bomber –and other failed terror attempts in the past decade, taking off shoes and walking barefoot through security has become a way of life.   Don’t forget to drop those belts, jackets or cell phones, too.
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    Full Body Scanners In 2008 the TSA first introduced the use of full body-scanning machines at 10 of the nation's busiest airports.  Since then their numbers have grown dramatically, and so has the controversy.   Many are concerned that the same whole-body imaging technologies that make it possible to see potentially dangerous devices also reveal a person's intimate body parts.  Over the years the TSA has been making changes to the equipment and software.  The Transportation Security Administration is now installing new software that it says will make the security process faster and less invasive without creating what appears to be a naked image.
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    No Big Bottles of Liquids Known affectionately as the 3-1-1 rule which, according to the TSA, is: “3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin,” those who fly are all too familiar with placing their liquids in a tiny zip-lock bag. The rule came about after a failed 2006 terror plot to detonate liquid explosives on airlines traveling from the U.K. to the U.S. and Canada.   The off shoot is thousands of dollars in dumped shampoos, gels, lotions and creams.
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    Passports for Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean  Remember when all you needed to get into Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean from the U.S. was a birth certificate or drivers license?   Not anymore.   In 2007 beefed up screening measures require a passport to fly to these regions.  Many Americans were forced to get a passport for the first time to check out Niagara Falls.   In fact, the number of Americans holding passports increased dramatically since 2001.   According to State Dept. statistics, a little more than 7 million Americans had a passport in 2001, the year of the terror attacks. In 2010, that number jumped to 13.8 million, which are the latest statistics available.  
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    No More Goodbyes at the Gate  It’s hard to remember that we were once allowed to greet friends and family at the gate with hugs and signs.  Now after 9/11, that’s stuff only for the silver screen.  The TSA does allow a special “gate pass” when there are circumstances when it is vital to see someone safely on board the aircraft, for example if a young child needs an escort or there are  special medical needs. Family members of arriving or departing U.S. service members can also be at the gate.
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    Blossoming Biometrics  Most foreign visitors entering the U.S after 9/11 now have to be fingerprinted and photographed.  Before 9/11 there was no such requirement for biometric information.  In 2004, with 9/11 still fresh on the minds of many, the Department of Homeland Security started collecting two digital fingerprints and a picture from each non-citizen visitor, but expanded it to all 10 fingers.  The goal is get a national digital database to check for criminal backgrounds and to see if passengers appear on any terrorist lists.
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