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9/11 Experiences

9/11 Experiences

Old Feb 16, 2010, 5:26 pm
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9/11 Experiences

Was anyone on a aircraft on 9-11-01 that was divererted when all planes were forced to land at the nearest airport. Is there a post here that goes back that far with the flyertalk threads. Also interested in anyone else
who was stranded by what happended.
I am woundering what people did and how they got to their destination.
If you have not seen it on Continental.Com in press release history for that day indicating every flight in the air and what airport it was divererted to.
Did airlines get buses or did you have to rent a car and drive since air traffic
was down for about 2 days.
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Old Feb 16, 2010, 5:38 pm
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I flew into DCA from SEA on September 10 and was booked to return home the evening of September 11. We were holed up in a hotel five blocks from the White House when the deal went down; we smelled the smoke drifting across the Potomac from the Pentagon, but were never in any danger (although for a few hours there, with erroneous reports of the capital beseiged by bombs and stray planes, we thought we might be). What I remember about that day is drinking Cutty & ginger starting at about 10:30am, all day and all evening, and remaining stone cold sober while Peter Jennings narrated the end of the world as we knew it. Next to me at the bar was disaster-master Paul "Crash of '79" Ehrlich wearing a tight I-told-you-so grimace.

Our four-person work team hired a Pontiac Bonneville from Avis -- on September 13 I rode a deserted MARC train up to fetch it from BWI, which was as close to a martial law-style armed camp as anything I hope to see in America -- and drove it from DC to Seattle in 45 hours flat. A Cannonball Run without the laughs.

Last edited by BearX220; Feb 17, 2010 at 9:20 am Reason: Fixed typo
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Old Feb 16, 2010, 7:50 pm
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I was just out of college but worked for a large Global 1000. I was based in their North American sales office in Boston and we always had a a large number of people on the road. The first few hours were anxious as no one knew what was going on. By the end of the day, everyone was accounted for and safely on the ground. Sadly, a friend at another company lost quite a few people that day. Soon, the word from corporate was to get home no matter the cost. Within 3 days, everyone made it back.

In an effort that made Planes, Trains, and Automobiles look like a drive to the supermarket, people got on just about every mode of transportation. With Logan closed until Sept 15th, people were getting as close as they could by plane and then got creative. Some people managed to hop trains and leapfrog across the country. Quite a few "Rode the Dog" AKA taking the Greyhound Bus. Others rented anything with wheels, a seat, and a engine. A couple of people got Ryder box trucks and others got UHaul vans. One person got himself in a Corvette, a few got Jags, and we even saw a Mercedes sedan. They were a contrast to the Geo Metros, Chevy Cavaliers, and other econoboxes. Three unlucky people had a little tiny Mitsubishi Eclipse which they drove all the way from Texas. Another person was driven up from Philly by his sister in law.

We gathered as many vehicles as we could in the parking lot and snapped a picture. The variety of vehicles was stunning. I need to dig up the photo.
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Old Feb 16, 2010, 8:32 pm
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A friend of mine was in the air heading home to Australia. It was one of the planes that they didn't have contact with for a short period of time as when you are out over the ocean, radio contact is nil for awhile. When they landed in Australia, they interviewed everyone getting off that plane as to where their original departure point had been. His was New York. He got pulled in and was questioned for over 4 hours before he was even told what had happened in New York. He kind of got profiled on that, he dark skinned, and had about 4 days of beard growth. When they finally confirmed that he was indeed who and what he said he was, they told him what had happened in New York, where he immediately broke down as he had family living very near the area. He was then allowed to call to try and get through to his family. In the meantime, his wife and NO idea where he was as he didn't seem to get off the plane, no one would tell her anything and she couldn't get through to New York to see if he even had gotten on the plane. They were both nervous wrecks for a while after that.
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Old Feb 16, 2010, 8:45 pm
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Here's an old thread on the events:


No real anecdotes from myself as I was in middle school in Alaska... although hunters were stranded for days and didn't know why (who were hunting in the bush).
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Old Feb 17, 2010, 12:30 am
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I was in El Paso, TX doing a site visit for a contract we were bidding. I remember leaving the hotel not too long after the first tower fell and driving along the airport and seeing jet after jet stacked up on their way to an unplanned landing at ELP.

After a night or two I gave up on flying back to California and drove to my brother's in Arizona where I waited for my girlfriend (now wife) to drive her way from Philadelphia to PHX. I went across New Mexico and AZ and the only aircraft I saw flying were military.

We then went from there back to SBA but over-nighted in Vegas. Vegas was almost obscene. Deserted and just sad. Every TV in the place was running news. Still cant go into Binion's (formerly Horseshoe) without remembering that night.
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Old Feb 17, 2010, 12:42 am
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I hope nobody minds ...

I do hope no one minds me posting from my experience, which were no-where near any of the down sites.

At the time I worked for British Airways in their call centre in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. I finished my night shift at 6am 11 Sep, and went home to bed. My dad came in but a short while later, around 12 midday i think, to tell me I should go back to work. When I asked why, he just told me to come look at the TV.

I walked downstairs to scenes i shall not forget on the TV. I immediately called work and they confirmed that they needed all hands on deck.

On the way I collected 3 of my nightshift collegues, who were as stunned as I, and a very quiet ride to work ensued.

Upon walking into work, it was a scene of absolute mayhem if I am honest. The lines were absolutely jammed solid, and all staff were told sit where you can and pick up a headset!

We were briefed about what had happened, and what we should say/shouldnt say, and such like.

The calls we took for the next 17 hours solid, were absolutely horrendous. that is apart from being heartbreaking, emotional, frustrating, and downright hard. I know people had harder jobs during this than us, but the feeling of helplessness was almost visible.

As scenes unfolded, nothing let up call wise, as you can imagine. at the peak I remember 3000 calls waiting to be answered. (that was the largest number the boards would display!) however the actual number was much higher.

I did not have time to think about the ramifiacations of what I was unwittingly in the thick of (to a degree) ... until after the 17 hours were up and I had gone to have a couple of hours before starting again.

I cannot begin to tell you how it feels when someone calls you, and tell you that they think there son or a loved one was on that flight. You heart just drops like a stone. Horrid.

I started longing for calls about ticket changes

I will never ever forget this day.
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Old Feb 17, 2010, 4:02 am
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Just like Jimmy O's, I was also in El Paso TX when the attacks occured. That morning, I was on my way to a 7am class at the University of Texas at El Paso. I was riding the city bus as usual, listening to the radio on my cell phone when the first news reports came out. Upon entering my class, my professor had the television with news coverage of the events.

Sometime later on that day, I heard that the Border Patrol and Customs Services (pre-ICE) shut down all traffic across the border...which lasted a few days afterwards. I also saw the stack of airplanes that landed at ELP, the sight and variety of which I did not see again until Continental stored some of their widebodies in the face of Hurricane Ike in 2008.
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Old Feb 17, 2010, 12:20 pm
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It is one of those events in life that you NEVER forget where you were when you heard the news.

I was driving home from a morning at Law College when I heard the newsflash. I switched the tv on when I got home and sat transfixed to the tv all day, praying for those in the towers and on the planes.

Once the kids got home from school they were sat watching. I told them that they would remember this day forever. God only knows what the families of those who were lost went through waiting for news.
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Old Feb 17, 2010, 12:31 pm
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Originally Posted by Cazzi B
I do hope no one minds me posting from my experience, which were no-where near any of the down sites.
Quite the contrary, Cazzi -- thank you for taking the time. We don't have nearly enough 9/11 stories from airline professionals "on the inside," and you remind us that the impact was truly transnational.
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Old Feb 17, 2010, 12:42 pm
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I was working on a British Royal Air Force Base, doing an audit. The reactions of the military were interesting. We also had to fly home, and although we returned 2-3 days later, the rumours going around the base were constant. Because of where I was working, we could get instant confirmation of some of them like 'all flights from LHR have been cancelled' - that was regular, but always incorrect.

When we came to fly back, we were delayed about 3 hours. I remember landing at LHR, an airport I knew well, and was gobsmacked at how planes were crammed in everywhere they possibly could be - even parked nose to tail in some places such that one could not be moved without moving the other first. Never seen LHR like that, and hope never to see it again.

I was overnighting in the mess at a local RAF station before returning home, got there about 2 am after a long day. Completely forgot about the raised alert status on military installations and gave the sentries heart failure by sitting at the front gate with my headlights on, waiting for them to open it until i realised that they wouldn't open it until they could identify me - which they couldn't with my lights on I've always been grateful they weren't more nervous
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Old Feb 17, 2010, 12:58 pm
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Originally Posted by buckeyefanflyer
Was anyone on a aircraft on 9-11-01 that was divererted when all planes were forced to land at the nearest airport. Is there a post here that goes back that far with the flyertalk threads. Also interested in anyone else
who was stranded by what happended.
I am woundering what people did and how they got to their destination.
If you have not seen it on Continental.Com in press release history for that day indicating every flight in the air and what airport it was divererted to.
Did airlines get buses or did you have to rent a car and drive since air traffic
was down for about 2 days.
I flew from SNA to MSP on 9/10 and was supposed to fly home on 9/11. I woke up that morning to the news reports on CNN. I had my client meeting that morning, but no one could get back out. I was stranded in Minneapolis until that Saturday and was on one of the first commercial flights allowed back in the air. As soon as I heard that air traffic was grounded, I called my TA and had her extend my stay at my hotel (Marriott, I think). This was a smart decision as, from what I understood at the time, all the hotels quickly filled up.

Saturday morning, I took a taxi to the airport, and went through the enhanced security. I remember noting the presence of National Guard soldiers armed with automatic weapons. We boarded without much delay. Once on board, the pilot made an announcement to the effect that he knew that everyone was tense and nervous, but he and his first officer weren't about to let anything happen to our flight. He also said that he knew that, if there were any "problems," we would "take care of it." We all looked around at each other and nodded affirmatively.

It was a relief to get home.
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Old Feb 17, 2010, 1:40 pm
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There were several FT thread from that time. Several were in Community Buzz, including a roll-call thread to try and determine if any members were on the flights and this one offering lodging in members' homes to others who might be stranded:


I'd just boarded a plane at ORD for JAX. A passenger behind me got off his phone and said that a plane crashed into a WTC tower. I figured it was a private pilot who didn't know what he was doing. We sat there a few minutes longer and the FA announced we wouldn't be flying. She said, When you hear why, you won't want to fly. We disembarked and I found out it was not a little Cessna that crashed. The gate agents were told to do no rebookings.

As the gate cleared out, I stuck around and asked the agent if, now that no one was around, she could issue me a paper ticket. It was my best move that day. The gravity of the situation didn't sink in and I went to the President's Club to wait it out until I could get rebooked and fly that day. It was there I saw the second crash live. Minutes later, a club attendant said they were closing and we had to leave. Then airport workers said the airport had to be evacuated. I called hotels. All were booked. One passenger said he found a room 90 minutes away. I called friends in the suburbs and they offered to house me.

I rode the train out to Barrington and it was stone silence. I thought that odd. Maybe it's the way it always was, but everyone was going home from work early. The train was full.

During the days that passed, no one knew when planes would be flying again, so I was rebooked 13 times, only to have them all cancel. I checked Amtrak, but nothing for two weeks. No cars were available.

On Friday, three days after 9/11, I figured I wasn't going to get home unless I was at the airport. The lines at the counter were huge, but my paper ticket I got on 9/11 got me through security, where there was almost no one airside.

I went to an empty customer service desk and asked for anything that would get me further west. I thought I was good to go when I was booked on a flight to PDX. Just before boarding the agent called me up and said the FAA just issued a directive that you had to stay on your same itinerary. I was off the flight.

My spouse worked for the FAA. I called him, perhaps a little irrationally , blaming him for this policy that was stranding me and telling me he had to get me in the air today.

Another passenger overheard me - the nicest man - he offered me his seat on a flight to I don't know where. Turns out he was a pharmacist and I had a horrible eye infection. He offered help, but I had my medications. He was very sweet and offered any help he could. It was a wonderful time of strangers helping strangers, hugging, offering comfort.

My spouse called back with a ticket out on Southwest for sometime later that day.

I then met another passenger who had a rental car reserved in case his flight cancelled. We agreed to drive to Colorado (where he lived) together and I'd take the car from there, if I didn't get on a flight. If he got on, he'd give me the car.

He got on and I went back to UA and an angel of an agent was able to override the new policy and get me standby on a flight to OAK though my original itinerary was to SJC. I was never sure I was really on it though until the plane took off.

Many on the flight were not stranded passengers, but those who'd been booked for that day. Some agents saw that I was a standby passenger there since 9/11 and were kind enough to move me ahead of people who had not been delayed. I remember one passenger asking me if I was waiting for an upgrade. I was shocked by the question. This was a rare time when an upgrade was furthest from my mind.

The flight was oddly quiet. I chatted with the FAs in the back galley. Older ones were calm. A young one was petrified. I doubt she's flying today.

At one point I looked out my window and saw an American flag cut into a wheat field. I've never been terribly patriotic, but I began to tear.

I arrived at OAK and cried the way home from there ... just an emotional release, much caused from being away from my family at a time I wanted them most.

I, of course, had it easy, but it's a time I won't forget, and I certainly won't forget the kindness of strangers.

In the days following, we had to take various actions, including putting cellophane tape on our car doors so we could tell if they'd been tampered with due to my husband's facility being a potential target. He also had to bring enough things to be prepared to stay there for several days.
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Last edited by l etoile; Feb 17, 2010 at 1:48 pm
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Old Feb 17, 2010, 2:30 pm
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I had just left my job with AA three months earlier. I knew one of our FAs killed that day. I worked in the SAT Res Office as a Resolution Supervisor. One of the last issues I worked involved AA 77 (Pentagon).

The year previous, I worked for UA for a few months.

One popular FT has an especially eerie story involving his potential reaccom on UA 93 on 11 Sep 01. I'm sure he'll chime in on this thread.

I recall a TV ad a few months after for AA; "One Airline Proud to carry the name American."

Over on Airliners.net, there are fascinating photos from the Maritimes & Atlantic Canada of the 9/11 TATL diversions (Gander, Goose Bay, Halifax, St. Johns, etc).
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Old Feb 17, 2010, 2:56 pm
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The FT assistance thread is excellent. What a great bunch of people on this site. Those who brought down those planes on 9-11 very so evill, just shows you there are many more caring and outstanding people on this planet. The stories I heard how those in some cities in Canada took care of American's who were stranded in thier country a few days.
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