Airports changed forever following 9/11 and continue to evolve

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 4:30 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) -The way we welcomed or sent off a loved-one changed drastically and permanently on 9/11.

A memorial stands inside the Waco Regional Airport 20 years later, serving as a reminder of the importance of security precautions enhanced in airports across the nation and the birth of TSA.

“There were vulnerabilities that weren’t fully exposed at that time and so really TSA has done a great job at evolving over the last 20 years in developing new technology, new processes to eliminate those vulnerabilities,” Joel Martinez, Director of Aviation for the City of Waco, said.

Martinez has worked in airports since 2002, watching the evolutions of security all unfold.

He says you can see the changes from the moment you pull up outside with fences securing the perimeter and it only becomes more apparent once you walk inside.

“Prior to 9/11, passengers and families were accustomed to greeting or sending off their loved ones at the gate,” Martinez said.

Today, no one without a ticket can pass the lobby, each passenger is screened, their bags are checked and can’t be left unattended, items are restricted, and the list goes on.

The technology to perform these duties has only become more advanced.

“TSA’s screeners would have to open each and every bag and swab it for explosive residue to see if there was anything that shouldn’t be in those bags,” Martinez said.

“Now those bags remain closed and they go through this x-ray machine that offers an x-ray of what’s in that bag.”

Entire layouts of airports were altered inside and out to allow room for security.

Martinez says he had no idea how much that day would impact his entire career.

“We haven’t seen an event like that directly impact the air transportation sector as a whole,” Martinez said.

TSA has nearly 65,000 workers across the nation in an effort to help make sure something like 9/11 will never happen again.

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