MYRTLE BEACH — It’s been 10 years since passengers at Myrtle Beach International Airport started facing the stricter security screenings of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.
The TSA, formed after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to strengthen the security of the nation’s transportation systems, arrived in Myrtle Beach a decade ago Tuesday and has since added technology such as the walk-through body scanners and explosions-detection devices. TSA also vets passengers against government watch lists.
“From that beginning 10 years ago, TSA has evolved into an agency that uses intelligence, innovative technologies and a highly trained workforce to keep the traveling public safe,” Debra Engel, TSA’s federal security director in Myrtle Beach, said in a news release. “As we move forward, TSA will continue to play a critical role in staying ahead of determined adversaries.”
The additions have meant passengers have had to go through more checks and arrive earlier before their flights to make it through the security process.
“It’s different now than it was before,” said Mike La Pier, director of Horry County airports. “I hope people understand that it is to provide a safe environment.”
TSA will have much more room to work once the expanded Myrtle Beach terminal opens in February, La Pier said. The waiting line for screening will be in a larger area, and passengers will have more space in the “recovery” area where they put their shoes back on, he said.
In the current terminal, the security check-in is wedged in the lobby area between the ticket counters and arrival area for incoming passengers.
“We won’t be horseshoed into a small space,” La Pier said. “There’s a lot more space for that. We won’t be asking [passengers] to stand in the middle of a circulation area.”
On Tuesday, officials marked TSA’s anniversary in Myrtle Beach with a ceremony at the airport, and transportation security officers re-affirmed the federal employee oath of office. TSA has about 100 employees in Myrtle Beach, with 36 of them working for the agency for 10 years, TSA spokesman Jon Allen said.
Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or at email@example.com or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_dawnbryant.