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What was air travel like before 9/11?

At the start of the twenty-first century, you could arrive at an airport half-an-hour prior to your flight taking off and stroll straight over to your gate. Following the tragic events of September 11, that all changed.

Posted: Sep 11, 2021 8:56 PM

Lafayette - At the start of the twenty-first century, you could arrive at an airport half-an-hour prior to your flight taking off and stroll straight over to your gate. Following the tragic events of September 11, that all changed.

"It was very free," said dr. Dedria Givens-Carroll when asked what it was like to fly prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

If you were born in the 1990s or beyond, there’s a good chance your flying experiences involved TSA, long lines and having to be mindful of what you included in your luggage. But Givens-Carroll says that wasn’t always the case.

"It was like an exploration," Givens-Carroll said. "You just take your bags, go get your boarding passes, they’d check your bags for free, you got on the plane."

Patricio Salinas is a native of Mexico who had limited experience with flying in America prior to September 11 but he says there was one thing that stood out to him.

"The one that really stands out is that even if you weren’t flying, you could pass the gate and go greet your loved ones while they’re departing or getting off the plane," said Salinas.

9/11 was the deadliest attack on U.S. Soil since the events of pearl harbor, with the attacks claiming nearly 3,000 lives. When flights across the nation resumed on September 14, 2001, many Americans were hesitant about traveling through the air again.

"Overall, generally speaking there was a fear," said Salinas. "That fear factor in terms of do I still feel safe."

Two months after the attacks, former president George W. Bush signed into law the aviation and transportation security act which resulted in the creation of the transportation security administration or TSA.

"Trying to take liquids of a certain size, I think it’s four ounces and it had to be in a zip lock bag," Givens-Carroll said. "Taking your shoes off and just all those restrictions really slowed down travel a lot."

While some Americans felt that the changes to how we fly after 9/11 were intrusive on our right to privacy, both Givens-Carroll and Salinas say sacrificing a little privacy is worth it if it means feeling more safe.

"It was very irritating at first, but I had to keep telling myself, ‘Dedria, this is how you’ll be more secure, more safe,’" Givens-Carroll said.

"I feel much more safe flying with that extra security, absolutely," Salinas said.

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