For Lyonel Jose Jr., a freshman biology pre-med student from College Park, Maryland, arriving early at the airport is a must.
It helps reassure him that he will catch his flight even if he is inconvenienced.
“I always get to the airport extremely early,” said Jose. “Going to the airport late for me is getting there with one hour and a half to spare because I know I have to go through all the security inspections and hassles.”
According to a new law known as the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, Saturday was the last day for airlines to screen only a small percentage of checked luggage.
“Prior to September 11, only 5% of checked bags were screened,” said Brian Boyle, a spokesperson for The Transportation Security Administration.
The TSA is responsible for luggage being monitored, whether by hand, machines or canine teams. The company has gone from 13 members to 67,000 since Jan. 28, 2002, making it the largest startup of a government department since World War II.
The department’s aim is to provide security and ensure the knowledge of passengers.
“Security is no longer a spectator sport,” said Boyle. “Passengers need to be aware of what items are permitted and prohibited, and make sure you keep your bags unlocked to prevent the need for screeners to break your locks, and be willing to participate in security inspections.”
Some passengers, however, feel that prohibiting seemingly harmless items such as tweezers and nail clippers are extreme.
“They need to be more realistic about what can or can’t be used to take over a plane because half these people aren’t MacGyver, so they can’t turn a nail clipper into a ballistic missile,” said Jose.
Others do feel such objects have the potential to be dangerous.
“Objects like these were used as weapons in my high school,” said Alexius Hence, a freshman business administration student from Houston.
The TSA is committed to ensuring the safety of passengers, and so far they’re succeeding.
“TSA has already stopped 4 million items, consisting of such objects as guns and knives. From the months of February to December we’ve stopped 37,504 box cutters, the same instruments used in the September 11th attacks,” said Boyle.
Samuel Flemmings can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org