TSA officials commemorate 20th anniversary of the federalization of first airport after TSA was established BWI was the first airport that TSA “stood up” after 9/11 terrorist attacks

Local Press Release
Friday, April 29, 2022
The first TSA checkpoint was established at BWI Airport on April 30, 2002. (TSA photo)

LINTHICUM, Md. —  Officials from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Baltimore/ Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) commemorated the 20th anniversary of the federalization of the airport. BWI was the first airport to launch under TSA security oversight on April 30, 2002, with a security checkpoint staffed by federal TSA officers only a few months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) became law in November 2001, establishing the TSA. That fall, TSA consisted of about 100 people working at folding tables in the basement of Department of Transportation headquarters. Today, 20 years later, there are 430 federalized airports and a workforce of 60,000 employees nationwide.

From the earliest days of TSA, employees had “a sincere drive to protect the traveling public and an innovative mindset,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske told a gathering of nearly 100 individuals who attended the anniversary celebration at BWI on Friday morning.

The Maryland Aviation Administration and BWI partnered with the pioneers of the young TSA to be the first airport to host TSA and allow officials to test the new policies and procedures as plans for the wider federalization of airports across the country took shape.

Current TSA security checkpoint at BWI Airport. (TSA photo)
Current TSA security checkpoint at BWI Airport. (TSA photo)

The “TSA Start Up Team” at BWI built a “War Room” on the lower level of C Concourse and began testing new screening methods, checkpoint designs, standard operating procedures and more. The team’s main tasks were to establish the new agency and its security mission and write policies and procedures that adhered to the requirements of the law that created TSA. They were to build a fully federalized workforce of security screening officers to replace private contract screeners.

The seeds of TSA’s accomplishments over the past 20 years were sown by the team at BWI. The first federal screening officers served at BWI, and the first mobile screening force officers trained at BWI before they were deployed across the country to help ensure consistent screening operations at the federalized airports that followed.

In the intervening years, TSA has developed and implemented strong security procedures, built a well-trained and highly skilled professional workforce, and introduced a wide array of state-of-the-art technologies to screen passengers, baggage and cargo.

Guided by an intelligence-based approach, today TSA is at the forefront of technology and innovation. Technologies like computed tomography, credential authentication technology and advanced imaging technology have greatly improved TSA’s detection and identity verification capabilities in ways the initial group of TSA employees could have only imagined 20 years ago.