Impact of 9/11 Still Felt A Decade Later At Tulsa International Airport

Friday, September 9th 2011, 10:24 pm
By: News On 6

Emily Baucum, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- We watched with horror as airplanes became weapons on 9/11. It forced the travel industry to revamp security as we know it.

We've become accustomed to taking our shoes off -- only packing a Ziploc bag of liquids -- and being screened by TSA. So used to it, it's easy to forget ten years ago, airports were very different places.

"You used to walk people out to the plane. You could sit with them until they got on the plane," said Donnia Bradley, TIA traveler.

In an instant, the terrorist attacks changed the way we fly.

"A lot more security for sure," said TIA traveler Mary Anne Murphy. "The new ones where you hold your hands up and they tend to pat you down."

Airport employees say they watched the tragedies unfold on television as all flights in and out of Tulsa were grounded.

"We knew something major had gone wrong. I think all of us in the industry wanted to know what happened and what could be done to make sure it didn't happen again," said Alexis Higgins, of the Tulsa International Airport.

We don't even think twice these days when we see blue uniforms. But ten years ago, the Transportation Security Administration and its parent, the Department of Homeland Security, didn't exist.

With the new organizations came new procedures.

"Initially we were screening cars as they came into the parking lot. We weren't letting anyone stop at the curb," Higgins said.

Eventually, that precaution was dropped, but many more stuck around.

"All of our checked bags had to be screened. That was not a requirement prior to 9/11," Higgins said.

To make room for new baggage screening equipment, Tulsa's airport consolidated its two security checkpoints into the one we use today.

Back in September 2001, American airports still used x-ray technology from the 1970s. Since then, full-body scanners were invented. Tulsa has three of them.

Travelers say more security takes more time, but it's the price we pay to prevent another national tragedy.

TSA does more than just monitor air travel. The Tulsa office watches over all transportation east of I-35 in Oklahoma, from planes and trains to pipelines and ports.