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SanibelMan
03-15-2007, 10:41 AM
Coming from this thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=412232) on airport-related things you wouldn't see in post-9/11 films, I was wondering when exactly airports nationwide got security checkpoints with metal detectors. I know it had to be sometime after the early 70s, because when Kansas City International Airport was built, it was specifically designed so you could go directly from your car to the gate, and retrofitting security to every gate has been a pain in the butt ever since. Was there a single event that triggered the security upgrades, or were they just phased in? What was the public reaction?

abel29a
03-15-2007, 10:55 AM
According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airport_security) screening measures were started in the late 60's in the United States, but it wasnt until 1973 that passenger and luggage screening became mandatory.

SanibelMan
03-15-2007, 10:58 AM
Thanks for the link. I should have checked Wikipedia first; the last time I looked at that article, it was much shorter.

So how much did all of this cost to implement? How did people react to such a huge change?

carterba
03-15-2007, 11:11 AM
I was born in 1978. I remember when I was younger, flying back from visiting my grandparents, I would get off the plane and meet my parents right at the gate. I can't recall what security measures were in place then, but according to the Wikipedia link there must've been luggage screening. When did it change so that you can only be at the gate if you have a boarding pass?

UncleRojelio
03-15-2007, 11:17 AM
Soon after this movie (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047086/) was made.

SmackFu
03-15-2007, 01:35 PM
I presume this was the motivation: In 1968-69 there was a massive rise in the number of hijackings. In 1968 there were 27 hijackings and attempted hijackings to Cuba. In 1969 there were 82 recorded hijack attempts worldwide, more than twice the total attempts for the whole period 1947-67. Most were Palestinians using hijacks as a political weapon to publicise their cause and to force the Israeli government to release Palestinian prisoners from jail.

Airliner hijackings have declined since the peak of 385 incidents between 1967-76. In 1977-86 the total had dropped to 300 incidents and in 1987-96 this figure was reduced to 212.

Shagnasty
03-15-2007, 01:49 PM
Universal luggage screening for domestic passengers wasn't started until after 9/11. People were free to put bombs in their checked bags all day long. Surprisngly few planes blew up because of it.

yabob
03-15-2007, 02:10 PM
Universal luggage screening for domestic passengers wasn't started until after 9/11. People were free to put bombs in their checked bags all day long. Surprisngly few planes blew up because of it.
Long before that they did verify that all passengers who checked luggage actually boarded the plane. Makes you less likely to put a bomb in your luggage if you have to get aboard with it. The majority of potential plane bombers aren't suicide bombers.

sweepkick
03-15-2007, 02:15 PM
I was born in 1978. I remember when I was younger, flying back from visiting my grandparents, I would get off the plane and meet my parents right at the gate. I can't recall what security measures were in place then, but according to the Wikipedia link there must've been luggage screening. When did it change so that you can only be at the gate if you have a boarding pass?


I began traveling extensively in 2000. I remember the days when you could meet someone at the gate... but it changed quickly after that. For Minneapolis/St Paul, at least, i'm betting this policy changed not long after 9/11.

Shagnasty
03-15-2007, 02:17 PM
Long before that they did verify that all passengers who checked luggage actually boarded the plane. Makes you less likely to put a bomb in your luggage if you have to get aboard with it. The majority of potential plane bombers aren't suicide bombers.

True but it was an amazingly easy to exploit loophole that no terrorist group exploited. There was one scare supposedly tied to the Unabomber with bombs on lots of planes but it wasn't real. I don't remember where that one came from but it was some kind of scare letter centered around LAX.

Troy McClure SF
03-15-2007, 02:29 PM
I and my friends graduated high school in 2000, and I remember getting them at the gate in Oakland Airport on their first trip back home from college. This would be winter 2000-2001 at the latest.

Cisco
03-15-2007, 02:46 PM
I was born in 1978. I remember when I was younger, flying back from visiting my grandparents, I would get off the plane and meet my parents right at the gate. I can't recall what security measures were in place then, but according to the Wikipedia link there must've been luggage screening. When did it change so that you can only be at the gate if you have a boarding pass?
The only airport I know of that you couldn't do this at before 9/11 was Miami, and I think it was a people-herding measure because that airport is so small compared to the amount of traffic it gets, not a security measure.

I still don't understand why you can't do it anymore. I also don't understand why you have to show your ID to get your boarding pass, show it 3 more times to get through security, then show it again at the gate. I can't possibly fathom how this could be a security measure given the ease with which fake IDs can be obtained.

BMalion
03-15-2007, 03:05 PM
Also, at Los Angeles, they never checked to see if your name and the name on the ticket was the same. Until after the Unabomber started his shenanigans. many's the time I flew with my boss's unused tickets.

Shagnasty
03-15-2007, 03:10 PM
The only airport I know of that you couldn't do this at before 9/11 was Miami, and I think it was a people-herding measure because that airport is so small compared to the amount of traffic it gets, not a security measure.

Also Logan. They had some higher than average security measures before 9/11. I don't think terrorists would have tempted to penetrate there :dubious:

Cisco
03-15-2007, 03:24 PM
Also, at Los Angeles, they never checked to see if your name and the name on the ticket was the same. Until after the Unabomber started his shenanigans. many's the time I flew with my boss's unused tickets.
I suspect a lot of these "security measures" are more about saving money than providing any kind of security.

My dad worked for a large airline, so when I was 16 I could hop in the car and start driving towards the airport whenever I wanted to get out of town (go see my brother in San Diego, or my grandparents in LA, or friends in Miami, or friends in DC . . . ) On the way to the airport I'd call a 1-800 number, punch in a few digits, and be done with it. I'd show generic tickets that we kept at home by the pound and hop on the plane. No ID. Never any lines at security.

Those were glory days. Flying has been made a mess of since then.

CalMeacham
03-15-2007, 04:12 PM
When I flew to college in 1973 it was the first time I passed through a metal detector to get on the plane (I'd flown a couple of times previously, and there were no detectors then). Aside from that, however, there was no security. The "jettys" were still there -- usually asphalt pathways atop the passenger tunnels that you could go outside on and watch people getting onto or off of the plane*. People could come on board without a ticket or reservation -- just the cash needed to pay for the flight. Nobody checked people or their luggage, aside from the metal detector.

Shortly thereafter they started tightening up. No more on-board ticket buying. No more jetties. Visitors couldn't come with you past a certain point. Many years later they started x-raying all carry ons. It wasn't until after 9-11 that they started getting draconian.














* (see the French film La Jetee, in which the titular "jetee" = "jetty" was just such an airport Jetty. the film was remade as 12 Monkeys, by which time the jetties were long gone, so they would've had to change the title, anyway.)

Dewey Finn
03-15-2007, 04:20 PM
I and my friends graduated high school in 2000, and I remember getting them at the gate in Oakland Airport on their first trip back home from college. This would be winter 2000-2001 at the latest.
I can beat that. On September 10, 2001, I drove someone to the airport and accompanied her as far as the jetway, even though I was unticketed and had a small Swiss Army knife on my keychain. (I had to remove it from my pocket, but there was no problem with my carrying it.)

Squink
03-15-2007, 04:23 PM
I presume this was the motivation:Yes, the US-Havana route got quite crowded in the late 60's:
List of Cuba-US aircraft hijackings (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Cuba-US_aircraft_hijackings)
There were 33 attempts at hijacking a US plane to Cuba in 1969 alone.
The fad pretty much died by 1974.

Cisco
03-15-2007, 04:36 PM
I can beat that. On September 10, 2001, I drove someone to the airport and accompanied her as far as the jetway, even though I was unticketed and had a small Swiss Army knife on my keychain. (I had to remove it from my pocket, but there was no problem with my carrying it.)
I never flew without a pocket knife before 9/11. They were allowed as long as the blade was under (IIRC) 6 inches.

SandyHook
03-15-2007, 04:40 PM
Long before that they did verify that all passengers who checked luggage actually boarded the plane. Makes you less likely to put a bomb in your luggage if you have to get aboard with it. The majority of potential plane bombers aren't suicide bombers.


In 1972/3 I worked for a guy who put a bomb on a plane in 1974. He and his brother (who had just gotten out of prison for murder) hatched a plan to put a bomb on a plane out of Cleveland. Its flight plan took it over Lake Erie where the explosion was to take place. Guess there thinking was that there wouldn't be any bodies to be found or counted. The brother bought a ticket for the flight and took out a bunch of insurance. The bomb didn't go off and was later found in unclaimed baggage. He ended up getting 25 years.


On the plus side, my b-i-l also work for him. Over the course of time he spent a bunch of his money on various things for the business. When he turned it in to get reimbursed, turned out the business was broke (thus the need for cash). He tried to take it off of his taxes but it was turned down by the IRS. A couple of days before he had to have the money paid in there was a story about an arrest for the bombing and a picture of our boss being led off by to jail by some federal marshalls. He took that in to the IRS office and after reading the article they decided maybe his boss was the kind of scumbag who would leave an employee out in the cold after all. So at least he got to use the deduction.

Voyager
03-15-2007, 07:04 PM
In 1972/3 I worked for a guy who put a bomb on a plane in 1974. He and his brother (who had just gotten out of prison for murder) hatched a plan to put a bomb on a plane out of Cleveland. Its flight plan took it over Lake Erie where the explosion was to take place. Guess there thinking was that there wouldn't be any bodies to be found or counted. The brother bought a ticket for the flight and took out a bunch of insurance. The bomb didn't go off and was later found in unclaimed baggage. He ended up getting 25 years.

Lenny Bruce had a bit - Unsked Airlines - from about 1960 which started from a news story about a man who put a bomb in his mother's luggage, and then took out lots of flight insurance on her. :eek:

I also always flew with a Swiss Army knife. George Carlin had a bit, from before 9/11, on how stupid it was to let people fly with knives. If they had put him in charge, things may have come out differently.

As for screening, I forget when it started but in December 1970 I flew from Boston to Texas with my hamster carried in my camera bag. I checked his cage (and they asked if there was an animal in there) but no one ever checked or X-rayed my bag. It turned out to be lucky, since we got stuck overnight in Houston, and he would have starved in luggage. By 1977 this was no longer possible.

Shagnasty
03-15-2007, 07:19 PM
As for screening, I forget when it started but in December 1970 I flew from Boston to Texas with my hamster carried in my camera bag. I checked his cage (and they asked if there was an animal in there) but no one ever checked or X-rayed my bag. It turned out to be lucky, since we got stuck overnight in Houston, and he would have starved in luggage. By 1977 this was no longer possible.

You might be surprised. In 1999, my wife and I flew from Boston Logan to Louisiana for Christmas. We lived in an apartment at the time and our pet was a 3 1/2 foot long iguana that we had raised from a tiny thing. We couldn't find anyone to take care of him over the holidays so I went out and bought one of those pet carrier bags that looks like a regular carry-on bag and put him in it. We got up to the security line for the terminal with bag in hand and I told the security people not to X-ray the bag because there was a carry-on pet in it. A woman took the bag and I told her before she opened it that it contained a rather large iguana. I dont think she knew what an iguana really was. A couple of other security guards wandered over as she opened it.

I don't know if you know much about iguanas but they can be fast and vicious. As some as she opened the bag, Attila leaped onto her chest, she screamed and panicked as did all other other security guards. Attila jumped down and starting running down the terminal. I just bolted through security at a dead run and caught him. I brought him back. They were all completely shocked and we just got waved towards the plane after I put him back in the bag.

rbroome
03-15-2007, 07:35 PM
You might be surprised. In 1999, my wife and I flew from Boston Logan to Louisiana for Christmas. We lived in an apartment at the time and our pet was a 3 1/2 foot long iguana that we had raised from a tiny thing. We couldn't find anyone to take care of him over the holidays so I went out and bought one of those pet carrier bags that looks like a regular carry-on bag and put him in it. We got up to the security line for the terminal with bag in hand and I told the security people not to X-ray the bag because there was a carry-on pet in it. A woman took the bag and I told her before she opened it that it contained a rather large iguana. I dont think she knew what an iguana really was. A couple of other security guards wandered over as she opened it.

I don't know if you know much about iguanas but they can be fast and vicious. As some as she opened the bag, Attila leaped onto her chest, she screamed and panicked as did all other other security guards. Attila jumped down and starting running down the terminal. I just bolted through security at a dead run and caught him. I brought him back. They were all completely shocked and we just got waved towards the plane after I put him back in the bag.

great story!

Voyager
03-15-2007, 07:54 PM
You might be surprised. In 1999, my wife and I flew from Boston Logan to Louisiana for Christmas. We lived in an apartment at the time and our pet was a 3 1/2 foot long iguana that we had raised from a tiny thing.< Great story snipped>

And that, friends, was the origin of Snakes on a Plane. :)

Getting another hamster from Champaign Illinois to LAX in 1977 was directly responsible for me getting married - but that's not a story for GQ. (Way too long.)

Cisco
03-15-2007, 08:08 PM
And that, friends, was the origin of Snakes on a Plane.

Actually, this was the origin of Snakes on a Plane (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h59p9kOZkLI) :)

Shagnasty
03-15-2007, 08:21 PM
And that, friends, was the origin of Snakes on a Plane. :)

Getting another hamster from Champaign Illinois to LAX in 1977 was directly responsible for me getting married - but that's not a story for GQ. (Way too long.)

Yeah. I am more of a "It is easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission in the first place" type person. We were in a real bind in getting that big lizard taken care of so I looked on every informational website I could. As best I could tell, the airlines had a policy for carry-on pets for domestic travel but I couldn't find much related to actual restrictions with airport security. Iguanas weren't on the approved airline list but I figured I could deal with the airline (as in never mention it) and security didn't have an actual restriction so that is what we did. Thank god it was before 6 am when we went through security and rather vacant or it might not have made such a good story.

There was some woman that took a full-sized pig on an airplane around then. It went crazy and traumatized the passengers by running up and down the isles so I wasn't the only one.

You could do a lot of stuff back in the day (pre-9/11). I always carried a knife through as well. Everclear (nearly pure alcohol for drinking) wasn't a problem although you could easily torch an airliner bathroom big time with a couple of bottles and a lighter (which was also allowed). From the stories, I always thought that my parents generation had all kinds of freedom that I didn't have. Now, my kids are going to say the same about us. If this goes on for another generation or two, we are going to have a big problem.

Cisco
03-15-2007, 08:27 PM
From the stories, I always thought that my parents generation had all kinds of freedom that I didn't have. Now, my kids are going to say the same about us. If this goes on for another generation or two, we are going to have a big problem.
That's what the more level-headed types said after 9/11, while the other 99% of the population were running around like this lady (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Crazy_Cat_Lady.jpg) screaming for their freedom to be taken away.

Siam Sam
03-15-2007, 08:36 PM
This thread makes me think of one time when I passed through airport security in Kathmandu. It was a domestic flight -- the international flights actually were strict -- but people were going through or around the metal detector, depending on which direction they happened to be veering in anyway. Which didn't matter, because the detector was actually turned off.

JRDelirious
03-15-2007, 08:59 PM
As far as the incremental security, IIRC:

- Checking for metals/weapons and certain forbidden items before boarding gate, no walk-ons: early 70s, the "take me to Havana" fad, Black September, and "DB Cooper".

- "Did you pack your own luggage/has it been within your reach at all times?", and showing ID, plus some basic but loose level of passenger/bag matching: after the Lockerbie bombing (1989). The question has since been abandoned.

- First attempts at limiting your carry-ons, first increase of awareness of the arrest powers for Air Rage cases: late 1990s

- No one at the gate but ticketed passengers (*), no cutting instruments, security run by an actual government agency rather than rent-a-guards; secondary searches, greater (still only partial) bag-matching: post- 9/11

(*Though most USA airports used to allow the unticketed to enter the safe zone, in many places they were already barred: at SJU since at least the mid-70s for BOTH the gates AND baggage claim)

- Virtually no carry-on allowed (UK flights), after the Aug. of 2006 "liquid bomb" plot. US rectified to a more reasonable arrangement (the 3-ounce limit).

Eva Luna
03-15-2007, 09:06 PM
When I flew to college in 1973 it was the first time I passed through a metal detector to get on the plane (I'd flown a couple of times previously, and there were no detectors then). ..[snip]
Shortly thereafter they started tightening up. No more on-board ticket buying.



Actually, not all that shortly afterward - my freshman year of college was 1986-87, and more than once, I flew People Express (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_Express) home, buying a ticket on board after the plane was already in the air. The first time was especially exciting; as I didn't have a credit card, I'd specifically called to ask ahead of time if I could pay by check. They told me I could, but neglected to mention that I needed to have a credit card to give the info as backup. I think they seriously intended to hold me hostage after the plane landed, until the nice guy sitting next to me offered to have me write the check to him and pay for my ticket with his credit card.

Cisco
03-15-2007, 10:16 PM
- Virtually no carry-on allowed (UK flights), after the Aug. of 2006 "liquid bomb" plot. US rectified to a more reasonable arrangement (the 3-ounce limit).
Phoenix Sky Harbor has a particularly surreal way of enforcing the 3-ounce limit. All liquids 3 ounces and under have to be put in the quart-size, drawstringed bags that they provide for you. Fine. Annoying, but whatever. The problem is that these are located before you enter security, and you aren't told that they are required until you are about halfway through. So you do the huge loop back to the start of security, change the bags out, then the person who just checked your ID before escorting you around the loop wants to see your ID again!

You have to show your ID 4 times over a distance of about 50 feet to get through security there.

Siam Sam
03-16-2007, 01:21 AM
Actually, not all that shortly afterward - my freshman year of college was 1986-87, and more than once, I flew People Express (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_Express) home, buying a ticket on board after the plane was already in the air. The first time was especially exciting; as I didn't have a credit card, I'd specifically called to ask ahead of time if I could pay by check. They told me I could, but neglected to mention that I needed to have a credit card to give the info as backup. I think they seriously intended to hold me hostage after the plane landed, until the nice guy sitting next to me offered to have me write the check to him and pay for my ticket with his credit card.
I saw the People Express onboard ticket sales when flying them from the U.S. to Europe and thought that was a hoot. I'd bought mine ahead of time but wondered what would happen if someone said they'd "forgotten" their wallet. Could have made for an interesting lark on a boring day.

Cisco
03-16-2007, 01:29 AM
more than once, I flew People Express (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_Express) home, buying a ticket on board after the plane was already in the air.
You could do things like that when airlines were profitable.

Edit: People Express may have contributed to the airline industry's decline in profitiability :o

JRDelirious
03-18-2007, 12:29 PM
Phoenix Sky Harbor has a particularly surreal way of enforcing the 3-ounce limit. All liquids 3 ounces and under have to be put in the quart-size, drawstringed bags that they provide for you. Fine. Annoying, but whatever. The problem is that these are located before you enter security, and you aren't told that they are required until you are about halfway through. So you do the huge loop back to the start of security, change the bags out, then the person who just checked your ID before escorting you around the loop wants to see your ID again!

You have to show your ID 4 times over a distance of about 50 feet to get through security there.
TSA evidently has decided that not only is being feared more effective than being loved, but it also covers for not being respected, taken seriously, or considered to perform their job well. Then again the airlines themselves aren't exactly earning our admiration and applause at how they treat us, are they.

Spezza
03-18-2007, 01:42 PM
Also Logan. They had some higher than average security measures before 9/11. I don't think terrorists would have tempted to penetrate there :dubious:

I flew through Logan on the evening of September 10th, 2001. Our flight from Iceland was late and they were telling us we were going to have to catch an early flight the next morning (luckily we didn't, we caught the last flight to Toronto that night).

Going from check-in to the gate I went through security once. It was the standard metal detector and guard with magic wand. No checking for a boarding pass, friends and relatives could walk you to the gate. There was also an exit, which bypassed security, to allow these people to leave. After having gone through security once, I walked out that exit to have a smoke outside. When I came back the security line had two dozen people queued up for it. I walked through the exit I had taken to get out.

When I awoke the next day and discovered two of the planes flew out of Logan, I knew why.