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Old Sep 11, 01, 11:01 pm   #1
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Report : New York City, Septmber 11, 2001

Trip Report : New York on September 11

September 10, 2001

1400 : Call Delta Air Lines to check on my flights for the next day. At 9am, I am scheduled to fly from NYC to SFO through MCO to keep the fares down. I am informed that my MCO-ATL flight has been downgraded from a 777 to a 738 and is now horribly oversold. They offer to protect me on the United nonstop instead. I decline their offer, choosing instead to stay with Delta. The flight offered was UA 93.

September 11, 2001

0615 : Wake up call in the Hotel Pennsylvania.
0715 : Aboard NJ Transit train from Pennsylvania Station New York to Newark Penn Station.
0740 : Grab a quick breakfast at McDonalds in the station and board the #302 Airlink bus.
0800 : Pull in to Terminal A at Newark just as a United Airlines Boeing 757, N591UA, is taxiing out to the runway for its flight to San Francisco.
0815 : Take the monorail across to Terminal B and check in for Delta Express 2475 to Orlando.
0840 : Boarding commences on Delta 2475. I relax in my seat and look out over the New York skyline. Little did I realize that this tranquil scene would never be the same again.
0852 : Doors close and we push back off the gate. As the safety demo is being performed, I look out and see some smoke above the World Trade Center. No big deal, we'll soon be out of here.
0901 : Flight attendants, prepare the cabin for takeoff. Push back from the gate.
0903 : Looking out of the window towards the World Trade Center. The smoke seems thicker.
0904 : HOLY ****! The side of the World Trade Center has just exploded in a ball of fire.
0905 : Captain comes over the PA system. Im sure you folks just saw what I saw. I'd say we aren't going anywhere for a while.
0925 : Back at the gate. Walk up and talk to the captain through the cockpit door. One flight attendant is sobbing in the corner of the galley.
0930 : Call SMS and try to rebook through Philly. All New York area airports are shut down, but others are still running.
0937 : SMS succesfully rebooks me out of Philly.
0940 : Nationwide ground stop announced.
0945 : Start calling around to check if everyone is ok.
0955 : US Marshals and PANYNJ Police with M16s and shotguns begin evacuating the terminals.
1000 : Board NJ Transit bus #302 to Newark Penn Station. The driver is gouging passengers who don't have exact change.
1002 : Bus is on the road. There are two towers still standing amid the smoke.
1010 : Bus is on a bridge. There is one tower that we can still see standing amid the smoke. Must be the angle.
1030 : Bus is on another bridge. Hey guys, can anyone see the towers? Oh my GOD!
1100 : Arrive at Newark Penn Station. Pandemonium and chaos.
1110 : Get myself on the waiting list for a room at the Hilton Gateway Newark. Maybe Gold VIP loyalty will count for something.
1130 : Get online from the business center. Send mass emails and log on to AOL Instant Messenger.
1145 : Get an Instant Message from Liz. She says she brought the UA 757 in from SFO-EWR last night. What UA 757 from EWR? I thought it was a 767 from BOS? Flight 93 that went down near PIT. HOLY ****! That could have been me!
1215 : Go over to the station and ask if they need any volunteers. Not yet, but maybe later.
1315 : Lunch at Taco Bell.
1430 : Back online for a bit. Plenty of emails to answer. Friend in WTC was safe. Friend in midtown is safe. Dad in midtown no word yet, but its midtown so I'll assume he's safe.
1530 : Phonecalls, emails and waiting for the waitlist to clear. Lobby is a warzone. Everyone is refugee here. They are bringing across lightly wounded folks from downtown and setting up triage in the train station.
1610 : You can check in now. Hilton has delivered in style. Concierge Level room. God bless Hilton.
1630 : Go out to Newark Penn Station and find the NJT Lieutenant I had spoken to last time. Yes, they want volunteers for the triage station. Well, I'm a trained first responder. You're hired.
1730 : We got a 911 call anonymous. Possible bomb in the station. EVERYONE OUT! NOW! NOW! NOW!
1800 : False alarm, everyone back.
1810 : Thanks for your help, but its under control now. We've got your room number in case we need more vols later.
1830 : Back in the room. Phonecalls.
1900 : Downstairs. Drinks at the bar. Business center internet. Hilton has arranged buses to shuttle people without rooms to remote Hilton locations. God bless Hilton.
2015 : Order dinner at bar.
2030 : Sip on Sam Adams as George W. Bush addresses the nation.
2130 : Back to the room. Hilton has delivered turndown service. I almost cry. Thank you Hilton.
2200 : Back downstairs in the business center. I have to be around people. What a day. What a day.
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Old Sep 11, 01, 11:06 pm   #2
Join Date: Feb 2001
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B747-437B, thanks for the blow-by-blow. What must it have been like at ground zero. So glad you are safe.

"Oh, the humanity"
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Old Sep 11, 01, 11:32 pm   #3
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Thank you.
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Old Sep 12, 01, 12:01 am   #4
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Thanks for your report... get well deserved rest. Thank goodness you are okay.
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Old Sep 12, 01, 6:32 am   #5
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wow-glad you're safe.

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Old Sep 12, 01, 7:13 am   #6
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Indeed what a day...

Thank you for the great report..

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Old Sep 12, 01, 11:21 am   #7
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What a report! Thank God you didn't take the UA flight; many of us would have.
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Old Sep 12, 01, 11:34 am   #8
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I was shaking slightly as I read that they wanted to put you on the doomed UA flight.

I wonder how many others were offered the accommodation and took it.

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Old Sep 12, 01, 3:43 pm   #9
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Incredible report, Sean! Thank you.
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Old Sep 12, 01, 7:36 pm   #10
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Thank you for the report.

Looks like you got very lucky. I know I probably would have just taken UA 93.

Speaking of UA 93, I unfortunately recognize a name on the passenger manifest as a VP where I worked at one time. Someone I should have kept in better contact with...

Still I am in denial about everything -- after spending so much time around WTC, it seems unreal this could happen.

Makes any problems I face look trivial.

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Old Sep 15, 01, 5:43 pm   #11
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Old Sep 16, 01, 12:50 am   #12
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Did you consider taking the reroute on UA? If so, what made you decide not to?
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Old Sep 16, 01, 8:28 pm   #13
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Fascinating report on a tragic situation.

You alluded to "handcuffs" and "profiling" on the Delta forum, can you (will you?) elaborate?


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