The glaring cultural gap between Gen Z and millennials has widened further after young TikTok users expressed surprise at how lax air travel was before 9/11, while asking their elders to explain how they used to be air travel.
A reaction to a scene from Lindsay Lohan’s 1998 film The Parent Trap, which was posted on TikTok by user Aleks, embodies Generation Z’s bewilderment at the old norms of air travel.
In the clip, Annie, played by Lohan, gets off a plane after flying home from summer camp and immediately sees her father, played by Dennis Quaid, waiting for her on the tarmac.
Watching the scene, Aleks squints at his TV in confusion, as the superimposed text reads: “POV: You’ve never flown before 9/11 and looking back at the parent trap you realize that he, “He’s literally meeting her outside the plane.”
In a scene from 1998’s The Parent Trap, Annie, played by Lindsay Lohan, steps off a plane and is immediately greeted with the sight of her father (Dennis Quaid) waiting for her on the tarmac.
The dynamics of the airport scene were disconcerting for members of Generation Z, who grew up in a post-9/11 world in which non-passengers cannot meet their loved ones at the gate.
‘Millennials, was this the norm????’ TikToker Aleks implored in the caption of her post.
‘Millennials, was this the norm????’ seriously implored in the legend.
And Aleks wasn’t the only one stunned by the brief scene: Dozens of his fellow Gen Zers took to the comments section to express their own confusion.
‘Born in 2006; I always thought this was just a drama movie? “I didn’t know before 9/11 you could do this,” one person wrote.
“OMG I thought they only did this in movies,” another chimed in, while a third commented: “I thought it was just because they were rich.”
Several older travelers also expressed fond memories of what airports and airplanes were like before the 9/11-inspired changes.
“Before 9/11 there wasn’t even a TSA… my mom used to walk me straight to the gate and wait with me until my flight,” one person recalled.
“Before 9/11, airports were practically big bus stops,” wrote another. “Virtually no security or hassle, just a place to relax while you wait for your flight.”
‘I can confirm that before 9/11, my extended family would be outside waiting. This is mainly done by smaller airlines,” said a third.
While meeting on the tarmac would have varied by airport, in fact it used to be much easier for people without a ticket to meet friends or family to board a plane right at the gates, or walk them to the gate to see them off.
As a result, many movies and television shows filmed before the 9/11 attacks show a very different view of air travel than what we are accustomed to today.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, airports around the world began implementing much stricter protocols across the board, completely transforming the way every aspect of air travel works, from billing to boarding procedures.
The TSA was established in the months immediately following 9/11.
“Before 9/11, security was almost invisible and it was really designed to be that way,” aviation security expert Jeff Price told NPR.
“It was designed to be something in the background that really wasn’t that noticeable and definitely didn’t interfere with aircraft or airport operations.”
You could approach the door at the last moment. It was not necessary to have a boarding pass,’ he added.
“All you had to do was go through security, no questions asked or identification required.”
With this, security consisted simply of a single metal detector.
It was not necessary to remove shoes, belts or similar things. Liquid containers could be any size and laptops (although perhaps rarer additions to carry-on luggage back then) would not have to be removed from bags before going through security.
And fortunately, razors, razor blades and knives up to four inches long were allowed to be carried into the airplane cabins by passengers.
“Even if the hijackers had been caught with their knives before boarding the plane, the inspectors would have returned them to them,” Price told NPR.
The 9/11 hijackers were thought to have used box cutters or razor blades to seize the cockpits of the three planes they hijacked.
In November 2001, George W. Bush signed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act into law, which established the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
And it’s not just passengers who have been affected by the dramatic changes in air travel safety.
In 2021, 20 years after Al Qaeda terrorists crashed two planes into the Twin Towers in New York, former United Airlines flight attendant Sara Nelson told the New York Times: “9/11 affects our jobs every day,” noting that several As a result of the attacks, strict new training procedures were implemented.