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Old May 10, 11, 5:36 pm   #1
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Was anyone here flying on 9/11/01?

The recent events involving the death of OBL just got me remembering that day. I wasn't flying that day, but my parents were - they were on the tarmac at LHR about to take off for the US when the announcement came that US airspace was closed. They ended up staying in London an extra week.

Anyone else have experiences to share from that day?
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Old May 10, 11, 6:32 pm   #2
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I would love to hear about some of the experiences that day. I was not at all a FF flyer then (still in HS) and this is actually the first time it has crossed my mind, "What did OTHER flyers experience that day?"

Thanks for the responses!
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Old May 10, 11, 6:44 pm   #3
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Old May 10, 11, 7:04 pm   #4
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A friend of mine was at LAX getting ready to leave for a business trip. She was having a cup of coffee at Starbucks and thinking about her presentation the next day.

Suddenly, all flights were cancelled and police officers were telling everyone to leave the airport. She had no idea why.

Her husband called her cell phone and said "Leave LAX. Forget your luggage. Just leave and come straight home." It wasn't until she was in her car going home that she heard about the terrorist attacks on the radio.

Later, she learned that the CEO of her company was on the flight that crashed into the Pentagon.
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Old May 10, 11, 7:34 pm   #5
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I was flying westbound TATL in mid-air when 9/11 happened; was very lucky and landed at YYZ instead of the dozens of planes that diverted to Gander. Knew something was up on final approach as the airport was shut down and the tarmac full of planes parked every which way, but had no idea of what until an hour after landing. Took 4 days before was able to cross the border to re-enter the US (and it took many hours of waiting at security). Quite a time. Hope it never happens again.
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Old May 10, 11, 7:41 pm   #6
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Was flying the next day. Found out very early on 9.11, knew one of the pilots (BIL of oldest friend). Needless to say very difficult to concentrate. Still is.
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Old May 11, 11, 2:10 am   #7
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No personal stories, but two second-hand ones, both trivial in the overall context but they add to the feeling of that sad day, I guess.

A friend was flying from Sydney (SYD to Los Angeles (LAX) and on the plane when the events in New York, Arlington and Pennsylvania happened. Naturally enough no announcement was made on the plane, and planes crossing the Pacific, if past a certain point, were allowed to continue on and land in the US even after all flights had been stopped. Consequently, she arrived to an (apparently) completely deserted airport, and no one would explain to the passengers what had happened. It wasn't until she rang her husband that she learned...

The second, very trivial, tale concerns three postcards, sent by someone I know from Boston to his young grandchildren in Australia, which they were very much looking forward to receiving. They never arrived. He has always assumed that they were probably on either AA 11 or UA 175 on their way to Australia via LAX. As I say, completely unimportant compared to everything else that happened as a result of the attacks that day, and it seems rather awful to related it, but it has always seemed a melancholy little turn of events and has served to remind me of the huge number of people who must have been indirectly affected on 11 September 2011.
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Old May 11, 11, 2:15 am   #8
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Yes. The alternative of flying that day (on a flight departing NYC) would have been that of me waking up at and/or having breakfast at the Marriott closest to the impact (in NYC).

In effect got locked out of the country for nearly a week as a result, but rather well positioned for the circumstances as I ended up in South Asia.
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Old May 11, 11, 2:38 am   #9
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I was in Amsterdam. As I was leaving the client site for my flight back to LGW, a headline came across on the news ticker about "plane crashes into WTC in New York", which we all assumed was a light aircraft gone astray.

Everything at the airport was normal until we got airside, when we found every single television switched to news channels, with people standing around, staring open-mouthed as the footage played out.

I've never been on a flight so quiet or tense inside. We were told we would be routed so we didn't fly over London, and may be delayed for US-bound flights returning.

On arrival at LGW, every single news source was switched off. A fairly typical contrast between the Dutch and English approaches

The news screen at Victoria station was switched on, though. Again, the normally noisy, busy concourse was eerily quiet, as people watched the towers collapse.

I spent the evening on the phone, just wanting to chat to friends and family. I didn't know anybody affected by it, but, for that moment, it felt like we could be on the brink of WW3. Nobody really knew what was going to happen next.
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Old May 11, 11, 4:39 am   #10
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I flew the night before from New York to Minneapolis. Lived in NY at the time. This was the last time I passed through security with ease and with no drama.
Compared to today, it was a walk in the park. You just threw your bag on the belt, walked through the metal detector, and picked up your bag. No ticket, no ID, no nothing. Just the metal detector.

I had a meeting the next morning (Late morning), then was scheduled to fly to LAX.

I woke up on 9/11, and ordered room service for breakfast. For some reason I never turned on the TV. When breakfast arrived, the woman said "Do you know what's going on in the world?"

I said "What?"

She turned on the TV just in time for me to see the first tower falling.

I immediately called my business associates to get a handle on cancelling our meeting, but surprisingly, the business meeting was NOT cancelled, so that occupied my mind for the morning. I remember thinking how it was "business as usual" in my world even though thousands and thousands of my fellow citizens were horribly suffering or killed. It was very sad. I remember leaving the room as the 2nd tower was falling.

The hotel was packed with travelers and a group of Asians that were very worried about getting back home. From memory, I believe the airport was closed for three or four days while the Government figured out what to do next and how to do it. This caused chaos for stranded travelers, unless you could rent a car and drive home.

I stayed for two or three nights trying to figure out how I'd get home, then got a cab and went to the airport the first day it was open. CHAOS! Thousands and thousands there, hundreds in every line, nobody knew what to do and how they were going to get home. Rather than stand in line for hours trying to get a flight home, I decided to try and rent a car.

I remember Avis rental being so very kind. They said "Take any car you want, drive it anywhere you want, no drop charge, no mileage charge". They were a life-saver. This is why I only rent from Avis to this day.

I remember how "Quiet' the skies seemed on my drive home. I also remember how courteous drivers were on the road.

And, I remember seeing more than a few brand new cars full of passengers with temp tags (California) driving East on the interstate.
I heard later that some people stranded on the West Coast that could not find a rental car simply bought a car, and car-pooled back to NY.
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Old May 11, 11, 6:38 am   #11
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I flew that weekend (9/11 occured on a Tuesday). By then displaced paxs had gotten home (in those days there were much more flights to handle irregular operations.) Took a USAir Express flight from LGA to BWI with one other pax. The USAir terminal at LGA was like a ghost town. Then a BWI to TPA Metrojet flight (the one time USAir attempt at a lcc) and there were three paxs onboard a 737.

All of the FAs on the Metrojet flight had just gotten their layoff notice that day, Metrojet was soon abandonded afterwards by USAir.
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Old May 11, 11, 7:03 am   #12
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Originally Posted by joedish View Post
I highly doubt that this is true.
Oh, I don't know. They were strange times, and some people panicked.
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Old May 11, 11, 7:17 am   #13
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I had flown back to the UK from BOS on an overnight flight on 10 Sep 01, landing in the early hours of 11 Sep. It was a terrible flight, everything went wrong, I got almost no sleep and had to go straight into the office for a meeting.

I spent the morning telling everyone what a bad flight it had been... that was until just after 2pm UK time when the news came in. Our head office is in Boston and we have people flying in and out of BOS every day. Fortunately we didn't lose anyone but we did have various people stranded around the world.

Since the phone lines to the US were down, the internet was grinding to a halt and I was uber-tired I just went hope to watch the TV coverage. I eventually fell asleep and woke up the next morning thinking I'd had a very bad dream.
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Old May 11, 11, 7:30 am   #14
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I flew SNA/MSP for a meeting on 9/10 and was supposed to return to SNA on 9/11 in the late afternoon. I got up that morning in my hotel room and turned on the television to CNN just in time to catch the plane striking the second tower. At first I wasn't sure what I was watching -- I thought it was a preview for a movie. I wound up staying at the hotel through Saturday (luckily they were able to accommodate me) when I was finally able to fly home.
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Old May 11, 11, 8:06 am   #15
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I flew a redeye SEA-MDW-DCA arriving Monday morning, 9/10 for a two-day consult in downtown Washington. I was booked to fly home the evening of 9/11. Tuesday morning, in our hotel four or five blocks from the White House, I was sitting in the breakfast room with my colleagues with the TV over the bar carrying the Today Show. I got up to find the coffeepot, looked up as the Today Show cut to the breaking-news shot of the damaged WTC, and did not sit down again.

I stayed at the bar for a good 12 to 14 hours. Strangers were hugging and weeping, especially in the short period when the White House was thought to be a target and bad information was circulating about bombs going off all over DC. The bar opened at 1000am in response to popular demand. A terrible, lucid, this-is-the-way-the-world-ends feeling settled over us that I will remember for the rest of my life. I remember pouring down one Cutty and ginger after another to absolutely no effect -- I have never touched that particular drink since.

Obviously homebound travel back to SEA was cancelled. It didn't help that the client had forced us to book the cheapest flights available, which meant we were on ATA, which had very few resources / alternatives for us. On the Wednesday night, we fell into conversation with a businessman from Kansas City who'd just rented a car and figured he could drive home in two or three days. My three colleagues and I looked at each other and said: hey, we could do that. I called Avis, where I had Preferred Select status (which they've since discontinued), and begged for a big car. They had one left in the entire DC area, but I would have to go up to BWI to fetch it. God bless them.

Originally Posted by RobbieRunner View Post
I remember Avis rental being so very kind. They said "Take any car you want, drive it anywhere you want, no drop charge, no mileage charge". They were a life-saver. This is why I only rent from Avis to this day.
Me too. Thursday morning I took a nearly empty train up to BWI, which was going to reopen for flights that evening and looked as close to an armed camp as I ever hope to see in the US, and Avis gave me a big red Pontiac Bonneville with no mileage or drop-off charge. I took it back to DC, loaded up my friends, and we drove straight through to Seattle. It took 40 hours flat to get from Lafayette Park across from the White House to the Fauntleroy-Vashon ferry terminal on Puget Sound. 3000 miles, ten tanks of gas. Total bill from Avis: $285. I've been loyal ever since.

Originally Posted by RobbieRunner
I remember seeing more than a few brand new cars full of passengers with temp tags (California) driving East on the interstate.
I heard later that some people stranded on the West Coast that could not find a rental car simply bought a car, and car-pooled back to NY.
I don't doubt it. As we drove through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, etc. westbound it seemed like every tenth car on the road was a generic American sedan, obviously a rental like ours, filled with grim-looking businesspeople heading home.

Last edited by BearX220; May 11, 11 at 5:27 pm
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