Immediately after 9-11, armed guards became a fixture at airports across the nation . "Their physical presence at the airport sure gave customers and the traveling public a more comfortable feeling." Jim Holden is the Transportation Security Administration Director at Lubbock International Airport. The agency and his job was created after 9-11. "Our primary purpose is to provide security for the traveling public and for the airlines."
Since the TSA took charge, we've seen federal screener replace those armed guards. "We're in pretty good shape right now with the experience we've gained over the last two years. The screeners are much better at their job and we have a better understanding of what the needs are for the traveling public."
Travelers we spoke with say the security measures make them feel safe when traveling through LIA. Tom Schirey says, "I think its better than it used to be by a long shot. I feel safe flying." Kay Agnew agrees. "It's a lot faster and simpler and that's nice."
In fact before 9-11, none of the checked baggage was screened. Holden says, "Before 9-11, they did have a positive bag match. In other words, if the bag was checked and the customer did not show up on board the flight, they were paged and if they were not found then the bag would have to be removed from the aircraft."
Nothing compared to the screening process, the bag goes through now. 100% of all luggage and checked bags are thoroughly screened. Carry-on luggage is x-rayed as you go through the check-point. "Scissors, knives, pepper spray, mace anything that could be dangerous or anything that could be used on board the aircraft as a weapon has to come out of the carry on bags."
Three years later, screeners are still collecting prohibited items every day. Boxes of scissors, knives, cigarette lighters and even lighters used to ignite a flame in your fire place. It's items like these that, Holden says slows down the screening process. "I see a lot of people go through the checkpoint and it looks like they are a walking billboard for a jewelry company. They have so much metal on their body. It takes a long time to take that off or they keep bouncing off the metal detector and that's what slows down the process."
Holden advises passengers to speed up the process by taking off watches, jewelry and other things before you walk-through. And most importantly, pack your luggage with security in mind. "Know what's in the bag before you go. If it appears to be something you think might be dangerous, take it out."
The TSA reminds passengers that you are the most important part of the security screening process. Make sure you check the list of prohibited items before packing your bag. If your checked bag is locked, make sure the lock is approved by the TSA. Finally, arrive early so you have enough time to go through the check point and make your plane on time.
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