, Salem, MA

Special Report

September 7, 2011

Readers' memories: Sept. 11, 2001

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was traveling to Dallas, Texas, for a business meeting. I was on a Delta flight that left Logan Airport shortly after the airplane hit the first tower. My flight included a connection through Atlanta. When we were over New York City, the pilot announced that if you were sitting on the left side of the aircraft you could see that the World Trade Center was on fire. This seemed odd and also concerning, as two women from my company were supposed to be at One Liberty Plaza (right next to the World Trade Center) at a customer site, conducting training. I would have been there also had I not had the Dallas meeting to attend.

Shortly after the announcement regarding the "fire," the pilot told us that a plane had struck the tower, which seemed even stranger than his first comment. I tried not to think much about it and remembered reading about a plane hitting the Empire State Building in the '40s or '50s, so I thought it might be a small commuter plane that had a problem. I became very concerned when the pilot announced that the other tower had been hit. I called my manager in Dallas to ask her to check on my colleagues on the ground in New York. She sounded strange, but did not disclose what was going on and asked me to call her when I landed in Atlanta. For the remainder of the flight, we had no further updates. It was not until we got on the ground that the pilot communicated what had happened and said all air travel had been suspended.

There was no cell service, and I called my parents on a pay phone. They were frantic, and relieved to hear from me. I called my manager, who assisted with making hotel arrangements. I had considered renting a car and driving home right then, but could not get through to any rental companies. My luggage was checked through to Dallas and the airline would not release it so all I had were the clothes on my back, a cellphone with a low battery (and no charger) and my laptop. I finally got a shuttle to the Sheraton Galleria and stayed until Thursday.

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