Patriotic passengers brave fateful day to fly
Published 12/09/2011 | 05:00
It's early in the morning on the 10th anniversary of the nation's worst terrorist attack, and John Wayne Airport in Southern California starts to hum with the mundane rituals of airline travel.
Yet the date's significance is palpable, here and at other airports around the world.
At Boston's Logan Airport, where the jetliners that brought down the World Trade Centre took off, ticket agents, baggage screeners and other workers paused at 8.46am for a moment of silence to mark the moment the first plane struck the twin towers.
Matt Yates, a 44-year-old accountant travelling to Atlanta and Florida for business, wore an American flag shirt that he dons on patriotic occasions.
Genevieve Mercier, a nurse who passed the time with a French novel about a plane crash, arrived three hours early for her flight home to suburban Montreal in anticipation of heavy security.
In Los Angeles, Kim Pinney, who operates her own daycare centre in Virginia, booked the latest flight home possible from a friend's wedding in the belief that would minimise her chances of falling victim to a terrorist attack.
"If something was going to happen, it would happen during the day and then it would be over," said Ms Pinney, (39). Since her flight was at 11pm yesterday, she added, "Technically, I'm flying for only an hour on 9/11 because it will be 9/12 for most of the flight."
The attacks altered the landscape of air travel, introducing an era of body scans and restrictions on carry-on liquids.
But Americans from coast to coast were flying yesterday, some because they had no choice, others with an air of defiance and a determination to appear unfazed by the threat of terrorism.
"I spoke to many business people who would wince when they heard I was travelling on 9/11, but I don't want to do that," said Patrick Bienvenue, a native of Canada, who dressed in red pants and a blue-and-white checked shirt to show his affection for the United States, his home for the past three decades.
But George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, said major US airlines have traditionally run one-day-only sales on the anniversary of the attacks, indicating they expect fewer passengers to fly.
Those sales haven't been offered this year, perhaps because Sunday is typically the busiest day of the week to fly, he said.