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Remembering 9/11: Attacks ushered in a new era of security at airports

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 2:20 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 10, 2021 at 4:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The day the 9/11 attacks were carried out, Peter Forman was a pilot with TWA scheduled to fly to Washington, D.C. where a hijacked plane had slammed into the Pentagon.

Like all other domestic flights that day, Forman’s flight was grounded before takeoff.

But even when service resumed several days later, passengers were jittery.

“People were on edge. So a lot of us who were pilots, we would go out and introduce ourselves to the passenger out in the waiting area,” said Forman, now an aviation industry historian.

SPECIAL SECTION ― Remembering 9/11: 20 Years Later

The 9/11 attacks not only shocked the nation but they ushered in a new era of security at the nation’s airports to prevent future terrorist attacks.

The Transportation Security Administration was created two months after the attack. It now screens some 2 million passengers every day.

“Flying became more of a hassle,” said Forman.

“People carry bags on board getting screened much more carefully. Shoes were checked and there were limits on the amount of liquid. … Huge changes all around.”

Passengers recall how much easier it was to fly before 9/11.

The days when you could go through security to say goodbye at the gate are long gone.

“I sort of remember going through some sort of metal detector even pre-9/11 but you don’t remember the horrific lines,” said Tim Dolan, CEO of the University of Hawaii Foundation. “They were faster, more efficient and I recall people were friendlier because there wasn’t the same tension.”

Even more changes arrived at airports during the recent pandemic.

But Forman believes the security measures for COVID-19 ― such as vaccine passports, quarantine requirements and thermal scans ― won’t be permanent like those implemented after 9/11.

“I think at some point, the pandemic goes away. Every pandemic we’ve had in the past, over hundreds of year, they always go away eventually,” he said.

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