Confused Airline passengers
Date Submitted: 3/4/2016
On the morning of 9/11 I was working for Southwest airlines in Nashville, TN as an operations agent. Around the time the first plane struck the World Trade Center I had just sent a flight out to Los Angeles then I returned to operations. I had just input the information for the flight in the computer when I went out to the our work area when the news broke in on television that the first tower was on fire. As a few of my coworkers and I was sitting there watching the news the second plane struck the other tower. We all were completely shocked and I was the first to call it a terror attack. The sky was to clear that morning all over the East coast. Within a few minutes a typical morning of getting flights ready and getting them on their way became chaos. The FAA shut down all airspace and told aircraft to immediately land at the nearest airport. The first flight I met was the Los Angeles flight that I had watch depart 20 minutes before. The pilots had heard other pilots talking in the air and when I went into the cockpit to tell the crew what had happened the Captain immediately said it was those ragheads. The passengers were asking several questions which mainly pertained to how long the delay was going to be. A common thing that I had to tell several more passengers that morning was " I don't know but I assume it was going to be quite lengthy". After having all the passengers disembark and return to the terminal I immediately went back to operations. By this time many aircraft that were not intended for Nashville were being forced to land. Everyone from customer service to ramp agents did a wonderful job that morning in hectic situation. The next two aircraft I met were not intended for Nashville either. The second aircraft that I met was a flight headed for Seattle from Tampa and I remember passengers asking the same question of what had happened and how long would the delay be. By this time the situation was clear and I told passengers their best option was to go find rental cars as quickly as possible before they were all taken. In just three hours we had to deal with 10 more aircraft than normal including other airlines that we normally did not handle. The enormity of what happened didn't fully hit me until around 10:00 that morning when I walked up to the terminal to find it the quietest I had ever heard it before for that time of the day. All passenger were forced to leave the terminal and it left a normally busy airport a ghost town for two more days. The first flight to depart Nashville after 9/11 I worked to Houston and most passengers didn't say a word. Before departing I addressed all the passengers and finished by telling them "God bless America".
...in the aftermath, I attended an interfaith prayer meeting that left me in awe. And I know now that though there might be a few incidents no one is proud of, we have come a long way in the fight against bigotry.
Cinthia (story excerpt)