TRIP REPORTS ARCHIVE
11th September 2001 : A
hand account from New York
by Sean Mendis
EDITORIAL NOTE : The following piece was
written on the evening of 11th September 2001 and has not been
September 10, 2001
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
Wake up call in the Hotel Pennsylvania. See "The Return From New
York" as a sequel to this
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 SHIT! 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 SHIT! 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.
EDITORIAL NOTE : The following piece was written on the evening of 11th September 2001 and has not been modified.
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
Wake up call in the Hotel Pennsylvania.
See "The Return From New York" as a sequel to this story.
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