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East Texas Regional Airport enhances security measures

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 1:54 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - Getting on a passenger jet changed drastically after 9/11 as security tightened and boarding times increasing. KLTV spoke with an area airport manager to get his recollections of how things changed 20 years ago.

Roy Miller is the airport manager at East Texas Regional Airport in Gregg County. He says there were changes right after September 11, 2001.

“If you’ll remember that day the biggest thing I recall is there was not an airplane flying over the U.S. That’s how quick it happened,” Miller said.

And, Miller says, when flights resumed, passenger screening, and who was in charge of it, was completely different.

“Did not have TSA at the time; Aviation security was handled by the FAA Civil Aviation Security Field Office. They lost that. And passenger screening was handled by the airlines; they lost that. TSA took both of those functions over,” Miller said.

And family and friends were allowed to see passengers off at the gate.

“Now it’s ticketed passengers only,” Miller said.

It’s the ticket that gets passengers on the plane, and through security. And they no longer allow someone else to use a ticket, among other things.

“The no fly list that we didn’t have before; don’t want people swapping tickets. Also want to make sure that all the bags that go in checked baggage have got passengers to go with them, so that there’s no unaccompanied bags. The theory is that people won’t blow themselves up,” Miller said.

He says behind the scenes there is now explosive detection used on baggage, as well as body scans.

“I think everybody’s adjusted to it quite well. There was a little grumbling and groaning. We just have what we call the hassle factor. But it’s still the best way to fly. And it’s still the safest way to get from point A to point B,” Miller said.

Miller says so far the system works since there have been no major incidents in air travel since security measures increased.

Miller was the airport manager at the Shreveport airport back in 2001. He says a couple days after 9/11 they had an incident where a passenger jet was escorted to that airport by fighter jets. A passenger had handed a threatening note to a flight attendant. Miller says it turned out that person had mental issues and was not a real threat.

Miller says he’s not allowed to talk about any extra measures the TSA has recommended for the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, only that security will be even tighter surrounding that date.

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