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September 11, 2001: tell us your travel stories

September 11, 2001: tell us your travel stories

Old Sep 11, 10, 4:56 pm
Join Date: May 2008
Location: The North
Programs: BAEC Gold, EK Gold, QR Silver, HH Diamond
Posts: 455
What strikes me is how few of today's FT-ers were also frequent flyers back in the day, on 9/11. So many of us were doing something different, and we all wondered if maybe it would be the end of all air travel, or even the end of everything, and yet here we are today doing what we all do.

I was a recruitment consultant then, ghastly job but I was good at it, and I was interviewing a candidate for something or other, and he was the one who told me. My colleagues were still in blissful ignorance, and after the interview, I remember looking at them and thinking, they don't know what I'm about to tell them and how it will never be the same.

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

I often think about that chap I interviewed, and how we shared this intimate moment; it was the most profoundly shocking moment any of us will have - we hope - and I cannot even remember his name, and no doubt, it's the same for him.
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Old Sep 11, 10, 5:22 pm
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: MKE
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Posts: 3,219
I was flying that morning from DTW-CMH sitting in First. I remember the plane speeding up mid-flight and turning to my seat partner asking if they felt it. We landed early in Columbus at about 9:15 a.m. And they didn't say a word to us. Near the NWA gates there is a bar, and I remember seeing a crowd of people standing and not really talking. I walked up and saw the WTC on fire and heard an announcement stating that the flights were canceled and I called my boss who lives in NJ, to find out what was going on and he didn't know, so watched CNN via cell phone together and I saw video of the second plane going in to the towers and screamed (thought it was live) and dropped my phone and started crying. Then watched the Pentagon being hit etc, and then they made an announcement that the airport would be closing and every one had 15 min to get on the other side of security.

Went to the rental car place and witnessed something to this day I have never seen, total strangers arranging rides cross country with one another. I took my car and not knowing what to do, went to my first appt, didn't totally comprehend the seriousness of it all. I remembering driving to my client and seeing how gas prices had doubled in an hour. We could not concentrate once I arrived so we ordered Pizza and watched the news.

I was staying at the Residence Inn and they had food brought in and had big screen tvs in the lobby and encouraged people to stay put of their rooms. I was stuck there until Thursday watching coverage 24/7, the rental car would not let me do a one way rental, finally my boss told me just to drive home and that he would buy the car If need be and I drove home. I remember seeing National Guard and Jeeps on the way home and was scared.

It all hit me when I arrived home and saw it on MY TV, and realized that not once did I reach out to call my BF at the time and broke it off the next day.

I flew the next week to CLE with 5 people on my plane and never looked back. I knew if I didn't get on a plane right away I would never fly again.

Every year on 9/11 I do an all day MR, been flying since 6am this morning. Gave my FC to an Army man this morning and thanked him. I decided years ago, that I was not going to let some man in cave dictate how I run my life.

I will never allow myself to forget those few days, they changed my life forever.

Sorry if there are typos, I am flying and typing on my Ipad and no scroll to go back and check.
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Old Sep 11, 10, 5:24 pm
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Have to say to read all of this and type it while in the air makes me sad but also feel empowered at the same time.
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Old Sep 11, 10, 5:29 pm
Join Date: Jul 2007
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Posts: 5,304
It was before I started traveling. I was watching The West Wing on the TV when towards the end of the show, during the last ad break, they had a news update saying a plane had hit the WTC. Thought it was a light aircraft.
Back to the last segment of the show, then they skipped the credits and cut to the news. Right as the second plane hit.
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Old Sep 11, 10, 5:32 pm
Ambassador: Oneworld Alliance
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: LON
Programs: BA Gold (GGL), Hilton Diamond, AA Gold, Marriott Gold
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What a choking thread; almost enough to make we weep.

I was in my office in Corby, UK. Got a text from The (London) Times about a terrorist attack in the US. No internet, no phone to the US. A mate had a car with a TV inside; we all sat in it and watched. Our secretary Lucy got out of the car and threw up on the pavement. I drove back to London, wanting to be with my family. (There were rumours of attacks on London at the time, but I did not care).

I just arrived in LHR this morning, pure coincidence that it was September 11. No special feeling or fear at all.

I still have to pinch myself that it really happened. For me the biggest impact was that it showed the IRA that they were really just amateurs in the world or terrorism; they have largely given up. Irish terrorists had a huge impact on my life as a young person, none of it good.
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Old Sep 11, 10, 6:30 pm
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Bournemouth, UK
Programs: BEAC Silver
Posts: 18
On Honeymoon in the US

My wife and I were on our Honeymoon on a US cruise. I woke up in the cabin and turned the TV on. Saw the first loop of footage and thought that is a going to be a powerful film. The happy ship went very sad quickly. It was very bizarre that day as we went snokling at the 'Blue Lagoon' island.

It was very close to my Wife and my hearts, as we work for a US bank and we got engaged in NY staying at the Marriott WTC. Lots of stays and memories from the towers and that hotel.

Spent another the rest of our honeymoon in Florida. All the parks were very quiet and most of Space Center was shutdown. Lots of other people were delayed going back. We flew on booked flight but did get an upgrade to Upper Class - upset Johnny Briggs (Mike Bladwin - Corrie) who didn't get one and stomped around the plane for the flight.
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Old Sep 11, 10, 6:51 pm
Join Date: Jul 2009
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The news coverage came on in the morning while I was still in my hotel room in Memphis. Like almost everyone else, I was glued to the TV. When they said that all flights were affected, I distinctly remember thinking, "I hope they get this straightened out before my flight tonight."

No one really knew then how the travel arrangements would turn out. Planes on the ground cancelled. Planes already in the air had to land at pretty much the closest suitable airport, regardless of their actual destination. . Due to its central location, Memphis got a large share. All of the gates, ramps and even taxiways started clogging up with planes. The hotel was already starting to fill up. Hotel and car rental reservations were chaos. Eventually, arriving pax cancelled and stranded pax took their place.

By noon it was clear that no one was going anywhere by air for some undefined period of time. I made the decision to keep my rental car and drive back to St. Louis and worry about Hertz later. I got home around midnight and headed out to the airport to drop off my rental and retrieve my own car in the morning.

There were two strange things that struck me at the airport the next morning. First, everyone was still at work. All the shuittles for hotels, rental cars and parking were running as normal. The control tower was still in operation because no one ever sent them home.

The second unusual thing was planes everywhere!! Up and down the taxiways and all the ramps. Planes with unusual logos for that airport. I'm sure it took weeks for everyone to get back on a sane schedule with equipment and crews stranded all over the world.

Same thing for the car rental. I've never seen so many out of state license plates at a rental lot. People who were lucky enough to have a rental, like me, ended up driving to their destination and dropping them off.

I talked to a guy who was flying a corporate jet that day and found himself over mid-Missouri beteen his origin and destination. He had to land his jet at a small general aviation in Rolla, MO, and wait it out.
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Old Sep 11, 10, 7:29 pm
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Sydney
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I was in a client meeting with a colleague in Sheffield UK. The meeting ended abruptly when the client got a call as a family member was in NY.

I remember travelling back on the traing sitting in a small compartment with a famous hypnotist (who was also on the phone for much of the journey) and in between calls to my wife, I thought two things:
  1. Sympathy for the people that died.
  2. I hope the US shows wisdom and restraint when they take their revenge.
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Old Sep 11, 10, 7:44 pm
Join Date: Feb 2009
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I thought this story was worth a read: http://www.breakthechain.org/exclusives/gander.html
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Old Sep 11, 10, 8:41 pm
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,882
Having completed a testing eight days filming on gritty, realistic police drama Heartbeat about 36 hours before, I had just finished an early sushi lunch on the Shepherd's Bush Road. Back in my flat, I turned on the telly but, as is my habit, hit the mute switch and turned on the radio as I started to check my email (dial-up, Virgin, 1p a minute)

Neighbours was on BBC1. Simon Mayo, newly transferred from The Nation's Favourite, was on Five Live, or Radio Bloke as I like to call it.

I forget what he was talking about as the news reached him, but he stopped the conversation to bring us this breaking news. Like most people, I thought "light aircraft" and thought no more of it. I looked up at the telly, Neighbours still on.

It can't be that serious, I remember thinking.

The Beeb let Neighbours play. But they cut to what was then News24 after the last scene but before the credits. About that moment the second plane hit.

Like everyone else, I spent the next two hours staring open jawed at the TV. Smoking three cigarettes at a time, I opened a bottle of strong waters, finished it and about 5pm took a taxi to find comfort in the arms of a American friend of mine.
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Old Sep 11, 10, 9:33 pm
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Zurich
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I was working in Portsmouth on that day. One of my colleagues got a phone call from her husband telling her that a plane had struck the WTC. I was quite incredulous when I went and watched the towers collapse on TV in our lunch room.

On my way home that evening, I couldn't help thinking how surreal the whole thing was. I felt quite ill watching the news coverage of it again in front of an electronics store with lots of other people who were heading home also.
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Old Sep 11, 10, 9:45 pm
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
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Originally Posted by Jagboi View Post
I thought this story was worth a read: http://www.breakthechain.org/exclusives/gander.html

nice accounts and links too
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Old Sep 11, 10, 9:46 pm
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Nashville, TN
Posts: 491
I was in college. I was driving to my class and was playing CDs, so I had no idea what was going on. I noticed strange activity on campus, but didn't think anything of it. Went in my class and saw many of my classmates crying. Now I was freaking out, I asked what's going on. Then the professor came in and he said class is cancelled, but you can stay in the class and watch the news with him and most everyone did. I don't think there was a dry eye in the entire class that day.
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Old Sep 12, 10, 12:34 pm
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 251
My parents were living in NYC at the time and my dad saw the towers fall from his office. I remember not being able to get through by phone as transatlantic phone lines must have been blocked w traffic. I was in Germany on client site which was very bizarre (everyone went back to the hotel and sat in a lobby watching CNN).

I had a flight booked LHR-JFK around the 17th to visit my parents to then go on to the GP in Indianapolis. I remember debating whether I should go, was it safe etc and went in the end (on a near empty United flight). Saddest sight to see the smoke come up over Manhattan and the gaping holes. I'll never forget all the missing signs (small ones with descriptions and pics) plastered all over the city, the Levi's store downtown with inches of dust on absolutely everything inside, as well as all the US & confederate flags, and "we shall overcome signs" on cars in Ohio & Indy.

My mother ended up doing volunteer work for over 8 weeks at Ground Zero for the Red Cross.

To this date, any time I see the skyline of NY, I just remember the impact of seeing those twin towers for the first time. They were just spectacular.
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Old Sep 12, 10, 1:55 pm
Join Date: Sep 2009
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Posts: 1,289
I had just landed from BOS that morning. It had been a terrible flight and I when got into the office I was telling everyone that it was the worst flight I had ever taken. When the news came in I suddenly stopped - compared to what had happened, it wasn't *that* bad a flight.

Our head office is in Boston and we have people flying in and out everyday. We were very lucky not to lose anyone. I had a colleague who was supposed to be on one of the ex-BOS flights but the customer cancelled the meeting at the last minute. He had got to the airport but then turned around and went home.

In the UK office we couldn't get hold of anyone in the US as all the phone lines were jammed. The internet ground to a halt and I was too jet-lagged to do any useful work so I just went home to watch the events on TV.

My boss spent 3 nights sleeping on a church hall floor in Nova Scotia.
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