Why Can’t I Keep My Shoes On…

…and a few other TSA “Did You Knows” that we came across while working on the 50th Anniversary Book for Huntsville International Airport…


On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda occurred in the United States. The attacks killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 others and drastically changed aviation security forever. After four passenger airliners operated by two major U.S. carriers (United Airlines and American Airlines) were hijacked and ultimately crashed, never again would security screening be the same. After 9/11, Washington federalized airport security by creating the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The agency hired more than 60,000 people to screen passengers and their baggage at 450 U.S. airports.

At first the TSA checkpoints looked very similar to how the screening stations had before, but that all began to change in 2001 when passengers began to have to remove their shoes for X-ray after Richard Reid tried to detonate explosives hidden in his shoes on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami. Then in 2006, passengers began to have to limit the amount of liquids they could bring aboard in carry-on bags when a plot was foiled to smuggle liquid explosives onto 10 aircraft bound for North America from the United Kingdom. Finally, in 2009, the “Underwear Bomber” tried to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear prompting the TSA to speed up deployment of body-scanning machines that are intended to detect items hidden beneath clothing. All of these measures were implemented after very specific incidences and were put in place with the purpose of saving lives.  Thank you TSA.

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