Anniversary of 9/11 Prompts Calls for Aviation Security Boost

  • Plane ticket security fee has been diverted to other uses
  • Democrat says money needed ‘in light of evolving threats’

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The 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks is spurring lawmaker calls for increased spending on aviation security.

Democratic Sens. Edward Markey (Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) released a bill Thursday that would send additional funding to the Transportation Security Administration to bolster its security technology and pay salaries.

“In light of evolving threats, the TSA needs ample resources to fulfill its mission, support its workforce, and deploy the latest and greatest security technologies,” Markey said.

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Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images
Travelers enter a new Transportation Security Administration screening area at Los Angeles International Airport on June 4, 2021.

The bill would stop any diversion of the 9/11 Security Fee — a $5.60 charge travelers pay when buying a plane ticket. The lawmakers say it was intended to help pay for aviation security, but Congress in 2013 started to divert some of the revenue to fund other programs. The fee generated more than $4.25 billion in fiscal 2019, and $1.36 billion was diverted away from security, the lawmakers say.

“Consumers rightly expect the September 11th Security Fee be used for its intended purpose: to prevent future threats and maintain safety in our skies,” Blumenthal said in a statement.

The legislation is a bicameral effort. In the House, Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), and Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) introduced a companion bill (H.R. 1813) earlier this year.

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The effort has won endorsements from various airline trade groups and labor unions, including Airlines for America, the Air Line Pilots Association, the American Association of Airport Executives, and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.

“You get what you pay for… unless it’s the airline security fee that accompanies your ticket,” said Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-Communications Workers of America. “That money is directed to all kinds of other priorities while aviation security remains subject to government shutdowns.”

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To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna Byington in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah Babbage at; Robin Meszoly at

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