A Better Flight Plan

Industry Insights

Commemorating 20 Years of Service in Aviation Security

Today, on the 20th anniversary of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), we at Airlines for America (A4A) want to say thank you to the men and women who have enhanced security for the aviation community for two decades. As U.S. air travel continues to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, the U.S. airlines are thrilled to be reuniting countless friends and families who have not seen each other in nearly two years. Ensuring the safety and security of the travelers returning to the skies would not be possible without the more than 40,000 TSA frontline employees who screen the 1.5 million passengers per day in airports across the country. These hardworking men and women are not only at the forefront of aviation security but have also worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to protect the health and wellbeing of passengers without compromising their commitment to security.

The TSA was created to strengthen security in the nation’s transportation systems. The agency was formed with the passage of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act by the 107th Congress and signed by President George W. Bush on November 19, 2001.

The Act called for the establishment of the TSA under the Department of Transportation (DOT) and charged  the agency with “protecting air, land and rail transportation against terrorist threats, sabotage, and other acts of violence through the deployment of passenger and baggage screeners; detection systems for explosives, weapons, and other contraband; and employing other security technologies.” Following the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2002, TSA then became a part of DHS in March 2003.

Today, U.S. airlines continue to work collaboratively with TSA and other federal government stakeholders to identify opportunities to expand biometric technology and incorporate new security innovations to further enhance the passenger travel experience and security on the ground and in the skies. U.S. airlines have made further investments in touchless technology and biometrics, such as enhancements to smartphone applications and increased touchless check-in options. Data indicates a clear appetite to utilize new technologies: a recent A4A passenger survey found that an overwhelming majority of respondents who did not check baggage checked in electronically, and even among those who checked luggage more than 60 percent checked in electronically.

While the risks have changed over the past 20 years, our commitment to staying ahead of and mitigating those risks has not wavered. Our collective success in keeping employees, passengers and aircraft safe is the result of deliberate, systematic enhancements to our security posture and ongoing communication with the TSA and other federal government partners. Looking forward, innovative solutions that prioritize security, privacy and passenger experience are critical as air travel recovers from the pandemic and as threats to aviation change. Together, we are committed to maintaining a robust U.S. aviation security system and ensuring that commercial aviation remains the safest mode of transportation.

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