Skip to main content

Who's afraid to fly on September 11?

By Katia Hetter, CNN
September 11, 2012 -- Updated 1350 GMT (2150 HKT)
Although Tuesdays aren't busy travel days during a normal week, many travelers don't appear to be avoiding flying on Tuesday, September 11, 2012, according to several airlines and travel agents.
Although Tuesdays aren't busy travel days during a normal week, many travelers don't appear to be avoiding flying on Tuesday, September 11, 2012, according to several airlines and travel agents.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Saying they will not let the terrorists "win," travelers say they'll fly on 9/11
  • Lower passenger numbers may be attributable to Tuesdays being slow travel days
  • Many flight attendants have volunteered to work on 9/11 to honor their 25 fallen colleagues

(CNN) -- In the few years immediately after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, many travelers avoided flying on that day if they could help it.

Airlines expected lighter than average traffic and often offered lower prices on flights departing that day, said George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com.

Time, apparently, has helped some people's fears fade.

Refusing to fly on September 11 lets the terrorists win, suggested many commenters on CNN's Facebook page within moments of the travel question being posted. "9/11 should be the busiest day for air travel," wrote Ronaldo Perez. "We cannot let the terrorists think that we are afraid."

"If we don't (fly), we are giving in to fear and letting it control our life," wrote Julie Roscoe Shaw. "Besides, God is in control of the end of my life, not a terrorist!"

Construction resuming on national 9/11 museum

Giuliani: We should mark 9/11 forever
Bloomberg: Our freedom is fragile

Fewer people normally fly on Tuesdays

While the U.S. airlines contacted for this story wouldn't provide any specific information about passenger traffic on September 11, a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said they didn't see anything unusual in this week's bookings.

"In the years immediately following 9/11, air travel always significantly dipped on September 11," wrote Mike McCarron, a spokesman for San Francisco International Airport, in an e-mail. "This year is no exception, but the dip in traffic is not as dramatic as in past years, and may be attributed to normal midweek declines in traffic."

It's true that Tuesday is typically one of the slowest travel days of the week, most airlines confirmed, so airport and airline staff aren't expecting to see high traffic volumes anyway.

Travel agents interviewed by CNN.com weren't reporting even isolated reports of business and leisure travelers declining to travel on September 11.

"I wouldn't say people want to fly, but the general feeling is that if we don't fly and we're afraid, they've won," said Ellen Sisser, manager of Omega World Travel's Bethesda, Maryland, office. "We can't give up living." And practically speaking, "there are those who think that the last place that would be attacked that day would be a plane."

Hotel bookings haven't slowed down much either, even in high-profile cities, according to Bob Diener, president and co-founder of Getaroom.com and co-founder of Hotels.com. "We're showing very high occupancy in New York City (hotels) and rates are pretty high. We're not seeing any significant impact."

Honoring a son's memory after 9/11

Safer on an airplane than crossing the street?

Facebook commenter Christopher Moser agreed. "Yes I have (flown on 9/11) and would again. There is a better chance of me getting hit by a bus crossing the street."

The same is true for one Manhattan travel agency. "9/11 will always remain in our hearts and memory, especially for the NYC/Tri-State area, but inevitably life goes on," wrote Kimberly Wilson Wetty, co-president of Valerie Wilson Travel. "So, 11 years later, we are not seeing tomorrow as any less busy of a travel day."

That doesn't mean the Transportation Security Administration, the airlines and airports won't be on high alert, although they are not communicating many details of increased security to the public.

"There is no credible or specific intelligence to indicate terrorist organizations are plotting attacks to coincide with the 11th anniversary of 9/11," said U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Marsha L. Catron, in a statement. "However, we know from the intelligence gathered from the Bin Laden raid, that al Qaeda has shown an interest in specific dates and anniversaries, such as 9/11.

"We continue to encourage our federal, state and local partners, as well as the American public, to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to local authorities," wrote Catron. "Our security posture, which always includes measures that are seen and unseen, will continue to protect the American people."

San Francisco International Airport officials have told employees that there may be an increase in local and federal law enforcement throughout the airport. Employees were asked to report any suspicious activity to airport officials or to call 911.

Several U.S. airlines, regardless of whether they lost crew, will hold private memorials. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the World Trade Center site and runs the major airports in the New York-New Jersey area, will hold its annual Interfaith Remembrance Service at St. Peter's Church at 2 p.m.

iReport: 9/11 illumination tribute

Mourning by working that day

For the nation's flight attendants, the memories are still fresh, the fallen more than names on a memorial.

Many are choosing to fly on September 11 as a way to honor their 25 fallen colleagues from American and United Airlines, said Veda Shook, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, whose nearly 60,000 members work at 21 airlines.

The Association of Flight Attendants is asking for a moment of silence on September 11 at 8:46 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the World Trade Center's North Tower.

"It was a seminal event that has bound our flight attendant community, said Shook. "Every flight attendant knows where they were that day."

How do you feel about air travel on September 11? Did 9/11 change any part of your routine? Let us know in the comments below.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Remembering 9/11
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 0110 GMT (0910 HKT)
A voice on the phone. A cry in the dark. A flag raised amid death and devastation.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1312 GMT (2112 HKT)
In his "Concrete Abstract" series, Israeli photographer Shai Kremer overlays multiple photographs that he took of the World Trade Center site from 2011-2013.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 0236 GMT (1036 HKT)
Even as smoke rose from the World Trade Center, as people clawed through rubble at the Pentagon, there was one name synonymous with terror in the U.S.
September 7, 2014 -- Updated 1613 GMT (0013 HKT)
A worn metal bracelet inscribed with the name of a fallen 9/11 firefighter washed up on the shores of New York's Robert Moses State Park.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
A lot happened in response to the 9/11 terror attacks. Here is a look at what has worked, what hasn't and what has to happen now.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
When do the ordinary -- letters, gloves, wallets -- become extraordinary?
September 11, 2013 -- Updated 1410 GMT (2210 HKT)
The new North Tower is finally high enough to partially restore the skyline I used to see when I stepped outside my home in Greenwich Village.
September 12, 2012 -- Updated 1443 GMT (2243 HKT)
For years, Denise Scott and her three daughters thought they had certainty about their loved one's death on September 11, 2001.
September 11, 2013 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
Even by MIT standards, says Tom Leighton, Danny Lewin was special.
September 11, 2013 -- Updated 1132 GMT (1932 HKT)
Some New Yorkers mark the anniversary of the September 11 attacks by going to a memorial service or observing a moment of silence.
September 11, 2013 -- Updated 1532 GMT (2332 HKT)
More than a decade after that dreadful day, 9/11 memories are still fresh for the mother who lost her son.
September 11, 2012 -- Updated 2203 GMT (0603 HKT)
Two parents share how their youngest child, Peter, was murdered on September 11, 2001, while attending a conference at Windows on the World at the World Trade Center. He was 25 years old.
September 11, 2013 -- Updated 1312 GMT (2112 HKT)
See the progress of buildings under construction at the site, as well as memorials.
September 8, 2014 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Here is some background on the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Mohammed Hamdani's name isn't among the first responders that are on the 9/11 memorial. But on that day, the 23-year-old certified EMT skipped his job at a university research lab to rushed to the World Trade Center.
September 11, 2012 -- Updated 1350 GMT (2150 HKT)
In the few years immediately after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, many travelers avoided flying on that day if they could help it.
October 29, 2012 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
Marine Cpl. Juan Dominguez lost three limbs in an explosion in Afghanistan.
Today's fifth-graders were not even born on that day. For them, September 11 is history -- and often, a topic in their history class. And as of last fall, 21 states specifically mentioned 9/11 in their social studies standards.
Although countless Muslims have condemned the acts of 9/11 in the United States and worldwide, American Muslims became objects of suspicion.
September 12, 2012 -- Updated 0253 GMT (1053 HKT)
As memorials recall the victims of 9/11 across the country, our photo gallery will relfect the observed remembrances.
ADVERTISEMENT