Not me but my mom, who was and still is a flight attendant. She was working a flight from DFW-BOS that morning, they were approaching the northeast when they were diverted to Akron, OH. I’m not sure what she was specifically told but I know they knew something was up. Their flight communications are even included in transcripts from that day.
By that time both towers had been hit and they were headed west over Pennsylvania to land. My mom said they were all on edge not really comprehending the severity of the situation and wondering whether they might be hijacked themselves. They were communicating with Cleveland on the ground when the hijacking of United 93 began over western PA, so there was communication between both flights and ground trying to confirm that the screaming etc they heard on the frequency was really a hijacking? Apprently United 93 was right behind them and my mom says the crew was back and forth up in the cockpit and in the galley looking out the windows trying to see the plane, while trying not to scare passengers.
My father was actually on the runway in Newark about to take off on a business trip when the first plane hit. They waited on the the runway for awhile and then the pilot came on and said that there was a tragedy in new york and that they were returning to the terminal and that the flight was cancelled. Back inside the airport, they were greeted with SWAT forcing everyone in the airport to the baggage claim. At this point everyone knew what happened. My father has extremely poor hearing and accidentally went outside instead of down to the lower level where the baggage claim is. He said there was no one outside, and that it was very eery. He was then met by a few officers with long guns who yelled at him to get to baggage claim. Once he got his luggage in the chaos of people, he walked all the way to the private carpark place a mile or two away. The buildings had already collapsed, and the whole walk he could see the smoke rising high above the skyline.
I was 4 years old and in preschool, and that morning I was out of school due to illness. I called my mother into the living room when PBS lost its sound (its antennae was on twin towers) and she flipped through the channels and discovered what was going on. Obviously she freaked the fuck out since my father was on a plane from the airport where a plane just exploded from. I vividly remember once the second plane hit, she freaked out much more, screaming like crazy, and I hid under the coffee table covering my ears. The view of the towers on the TV from under the coffee table is my only vivid memory of 9/11. I have a few other foggy memories, but another clear one is the next day at preschool, when a kid said that the towers fell down, and a teacher told him to stop talking.
North Jersey lost a lot of commuting fathers in the attack, and my town's library has a large piece of bent metal from the wreckage as a memorial of the couple people from my small town who died.
Here is an old thread on flyertalk regarding being on a plane during 9/11:
>On 9/11, I was listening to Ch. 9. I was on a flight out of ORD to AZ (757) seated in 5F. We had just taken off and where climbing to cruise. A flight out of Rockford, IL was squeezing between us and the UA in front of us. I watched as he lined up to get on the highway westbound. Then, abruptly, the Rockford flight called ATC and requested immediate clearance to return to home. ATC responded with some quick direction and asked if they were experiencing trouble. No, just directed to return home by company pronto. Hmmm, strange I thought.
>Then the UA in front of us requested emergency clearance back to ORD. Loooong pause from ATC. Now, this is Chicago Center air space. There are no pauses. Certainly not 30-40 seconds of dead air. Hmm, man that is weird, I thought. Then like a starters pistol went off, the comm light up. Another plane req. clearance, then another, another.... boom, boom, boom. Nothing from ATC. I nudged the guy next to me and said put on Ch. 9. He could see by the expression on my face, I was serious.
>ATC got on the air and started by saying this was going to go quick and pilots needed to listen up. "Protocol responses are not required, just do exactly as I say quickly". Then it began. "UA ###, turn right heading blah, blah expect Springfield airport. SWA ###, turn left heading blah, blah expect Rockford. Delta ###...." This went on for about 3 solid minutes before I rang the bell for the FA who was passing out breakfast. Our number had not yet been called. The FA came by and I said "We are all going back to O'Hare, they are landing every plane in the sky. What is going on?!?" She looked at me in disbelief and kind of leaned down to look out the window. I could see that she was about to start to tell me not to worry about it when we pitched right at about 45*s. It was so quick it nearly dumped the FA in my lap.
My dad was an armed high ranking federal agent. He was flying from DC to Miami (I think - definitely FL). He was woken up somewhere over Southern Virginia, and asked to come to the cockpit. The pilots told him to guard the cockpit, and that he was authorized to shoot - he spoke to someone confirming the authorization. He was given the jump seat next to the cockpit during landing, so he could see if anyone stood up. He told me later that the reason they were allowed to continue to Miami instead of putting down in the Carolinas was because he was on the plane.
When he died in 2010, my mom showed me the piece of paper he had kept, with his notes from that radio transmission. I think my older brother has them now.
Side note, when he landed, he was met by the three guys he was flying down to meet with, and they all drove back overnight, getting back just in time to help oversee the search at the pentagon. I’ve never seen him as shaken as the day he brought home a piece of the desk from his office.
Not entirely plane related, but my Dad worked near the towers and got out the train to see the second plane crash. It really messed him up inside. We lived in the Bronx, and everyday he went to the Park Ave. Armory where people lined up to find out about their loved ones. My Dad noticed that many didn't speak English and they were having a hard time communicating. He wrote Translation Services on a piece of paper and stapled it to his shirt and spoke Spanish, French, and Russian. He got the relief effort to spread the word to get translators. It was all over the radio and TV. The Japanese government heard and sent their best translators by special permission on a direct flight to New York (one of the few planes that could come to New York.) A Japanese bank had workspace in the towers, and the relatives of the workers also came. By the end, hundreds of people came, even those of more obscure languages from Algeria and Azerbaijan, among others. There was a fleet of Punjabi, Afrikaans, Creole, Korean, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Polish, Chinese. It's wondrous to see how something as simple as talking binds all of us. The City began implenenting translation services everwhere since. I was 12 years old at the time and didn't understand the impact. Today at 28, my Dad was a hero.
Edit to show you all an article about my Dad's translation effort shown in the Spanish language newspaper, El Diario NY. https://eldiariony.com/2012/09/08/distintos-idiomas-un-mismo-dolor/
/u/letsdraw2 ran the article through Google Translate in English: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Feldiariony.com%2F2012%2F09%2F08%2Fdistintos-idiomas-un-mismo-dolor%2F&edit-text=&act=url
Thank you all for congratulating him! And thank you for the gold, kind internet stranger! I love my Dad very much.
I was on a United flight from newark to Atlanta that morning. We were in the air when everything happened and were supposed to land about 9:00. Just before landing they held us in a"holding pattern" in the air. At about 9:30 we landed. No announcements were made on the plane.
Just as we got to the gate and people started turning their phones on, i hear phones start ringing everywhere. "What happened...." "a plane hit what..." at that point my phone started to ring as well. It was my wife wanting to make sure i wasn't on one of the planes. And she filled me in on what was known then. The pilot and cabin crew did not say anything about what happened.
There was an eerie silence in the terminal. I did not see any tv screens. I went directly to the car rental company got a car and started driving north, back to NY. Listening to the radio as much as i could the whole way back...
I flew from Sweden to Turkey. Before boarding the plane I remember that everyone in the airport stood in silence watching the news on the different tv-monitors in the airport. It was a really weird feeling that it was so silent in a usually hectic place. The flight went on as usual. The attack happened just before we checked in to the airport.
I was on a plane from LA to Melbourne, with a stop-over via Auckland, and 9/11 happened while we were in the air.
Halfway through the flight, all the flight attendants got really nervous, and the pilot told us that due to a safety issue, the seatbelt sign was kept on throughout the flight, which we all found really confusing.
When we landed in NZ, there were armed guards with machine guns to greet us - which is very out of the ordinary for New Zealand. The first reports the flight attendants gave us was that it was the Empire State Building that had been attacked, that was how confused initial reports were. We were luckily allowed to fly on to Melbourne, but after that all international flights were grounded for a few days .
A friend of mind was a pilot for Singapore Airlines flying Singapore to Seattle I think he said. He was diverted into Canada, but only told the passengers the bare minimum that they were being diverted to another airport. It wasn't until they got inside the airport terminal and saw the TV that they understood why they were diverted. (Even he was surprised at the scale compared to what ATC told him.)
He was also the pilot in command of the first commercial aircraft to enter US airspace when it was reopened, and he recalled being terrified of deviating from his planned track. He had an uneasy feeling in the back of his mind that there was likely an F-14 a few thousand feet above him ready to vaporise them if he moved unexpectedly.
My mom worked in the accounting department for American Trans Air, and according to her, there was only one ATA plane that had to land in Nova Scotia. The passengers weren’t told about planes crashing until they landed. There were so many planes that had already landed, that they were lined up in rows.
My wife was flying Paris - NYC; the pilot first came on the PA and said “bombs were being dropped on US soil”, airspace was closed and they were diverting to Halifax because they didn’t have enough fuel to return to Paris. Then they came on and said Halifax was closed and they would have to return to France. Hmmm...not enough fuel? The plane landed in Brest, on the west coast of France. No clue how much fuel the plane was left with. My wife was put up in a very nice hotel with the rest of the Business class passengers, and was stuck for 4 very surreal days in Paris.
There was a doctor on board who was flying to NYC to do an organ transplant; he was able to access a fax machine in the cockpit to tell the medical team in NYC that he wouldn’t make it and they should halt the organ harvest from the donor. Fascinating.
My father was the ATC supervisor for Logan Airport on 9/11 which is where the hijacked planes originated from. Before they hit the WTC my dad knew they had been hijacked. They lost contact and then saw on the news that a plane had hit the WTC. He called FAA hq and they thought it was a prank. By the time the second plane hit NORAD was telling him to ground every aircraft in their airspace.
He said the hardest part was not being able to watch the news. All of his controllers desperately wanted to watch, but they had to get all of those planes down. There were several times when they thought more planes had been hijacked. He told me it was the absolute worst day of his life.
Edit: All of the interest in this has been great guys. My dad is currently on his boat and won't be done with his trip until fall. But I will see him next week and I'll talk to him about a book, or at least an AMA. He has a ton of exciting stories aside from the 9/11 stuff too. Also, hi 55378008!
2nd hand: My parents were flying the morning of 9/11. I dropped them off at the airport and drove to work. First tower was hit as I pulled into the parking lot. Radio people thought it was just a fire at the tower. As I went into work and checked the news, it became clear a plane hit it. As I was on the phone with my buddy, the second plane hit on the live TV he was watching. That's when it was clear this was intentional.
Started to tell my boss I needed to pick up my parents, but he cut me off and said, "GO!". I called my parents as I ran to the car. The TVs at the gates had all been turned off and they announced no flights would be taking off. I raced to the airport, picked them up, and drove home to eerily empty roads and sky.
My step dad was a pilot flying small private jets, and was in the air when it happened. He said they just told him to land, and had to go into the airport to find out why, and what happened, and go back to the plane to tell the passengers.
I was 9 when 9/11 occurred and my family were returning home from a birthday trip to Disney, (my birthday is September 12th, 1991, so I was turning 10 that very next day) so Orlando to Kansas City. I don’t remember the specifics but it didn’t feel like we were in the air long at all (our flight had been at 8:20) before the captain had come onto the overhead speakers to tell us that there had been some pretty serious incidents occurring in New York City and that they were told to land as soon as possible and that we’d be diverted to Houston.
As soon as we landed, my dad had called my uncle (who lives in Hackensack, but worked in NYC) and my uncle had told him everything. My dad literally exclaimed into a kind of gasp-sob and that was the first and only time I’ve ever come close to seeing him cry. When we got off the plane, it was all over the televisions throughout the airport. My mom and dad practically clung to us the entire time from the airport to our hotel nearby.
The whole thing is something I cannot and will not ever forget.
Nothing...complete silence about it.
I was flying from Toronto to Montreal.
I noticed that the breakfast service ended abruptly and the stewards were acting funny, standing at the bulkheads and visually scanning the passengers etc.
I listened to hear if the plane sounded funny or was behaving oddly...nothing was out of the ordinary so I went back to reading my paper.
Disembarked into a sea of people at YUL, when I came down the escalator I didn't know where I was going to stand...that many people.
Many many Americans that had no idea they would be visiting Canada that day...they were on the radio asking for people with extra rooms to lend, and Montreal'ers took them all into their homes...within an hour they were saying they had enough available rooms.
Called my wife to tell her I was ok, my kids were freaking out at school because they were young and all they knew was that daddy was flying for work today and then everyone was talking about planes crashing.
I spent the week working near the airport and marvelling at the clarity of the sky, ended up driving home because flights still weren't cleared to take off. Saw several heavy military jets following the 401 highway at low altitude near CFB Trenton.
Edit: this is amazing to watch
I was due to catch a flight back to NYC on 10:30am of 9/11. Never made it to the airport. Rented a car the next day to drive back so I could get to my apartment, which was in the "frozen zone" below 14th St.
Two friends of mine who were sisters were departing on two different international flights that morning. One departed, the other didn't. It was several hours before they could reach each other to confirm the neither of them had been on the affected flights.
I was flying from Frankfurt to Washington-Dulles. A few hours into the flight they turned off the map that would allow you to track the flight's progress. We thought, "No big deal, maybe it's not working." Then, right about the time we should be getting ready to descend into Washington, the pilot announced that we would be landing back at Frankfurt due to "an incident that closed US airspace". No further information. They had quietly turned the plane around, with none of the passengers noticing. Throughout the previous few hours, the flight attendants had closed off movement throughout the cabin and seemed more on alert whenever anyone got up. The crew gave no further information until we landed. Once in the ground at Frankfurt, we taxied and parked way out on the tarmac, far from the terminals. The airport was full of returning planes, with little parking left.
It wasn't until the ground crew came on board that we were told what had happened. The gate agent said the "Twin Towers had been knocked flat", making a motion with his hands. It was so hard to believe, I thought he was exaggerating, Very few of us had cell phones that worked in Germany, so news was tough to come by. It became truly real once we were in the terminal and we saw video and news reports. I spent the rest of the night (it was late evening when we landed) trying to contact my family, who were obviously worried.
Next day, at the small German village we were staying at, the entire town had a moment of silence for the victims.