Subdued scene at Logan Airport
By TOM BENNER Patriot Ledger State House Bureau
At 7:40 a.m. today, about 200 American Airlines employees gathered at Gate 32 at Logan Airport, the point of departure for Flight 11 exactly one year before. They observed the anniversary with a memorial service for the crew and passengers aboard the hijacked flight, which crashed into the World Trade Center in New York at 8:46.
The service was occasionally drowned out by the sound of planes taking off.
Most people were very stoic,” said American employee Andrea Rader. It was very quiet.”
At 8:46, as the country went silent for a moment and the planes were still on Logan’s tarmac, American Airlines ticket agents huddled behind a counter and bowed their heads. Some wept aloud; others silently wiped tears from the eyes.
As the moment of silence ended, God Bless America” flowed from the intercom, and the agents went back to their counters, ready for more passengers.
Counselors were on hand today for American and United Airlines employees grieving the loss of their colleagues in last year’s attacks.
American Airlines lost 23 employees from Flight 11 and Flight 77, which took off in Washington and crashed into the Pentagon.
Eighteen United employees perished on Flight 175, which struck the World Trade Center, and Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania after taking off from Newark, N.J. In remembrance, United employees will wear memorial ribbons through September.
For the most part this is going to be a very low-key day,” said Chris Brathwaite of United Airlines. For most of our employees they’re going to make it a business-as-usual day as much as they can.”
Both airlines have stopped using the flight numbers that were used for the ill-fated flights.
Logan Airport is usually bustling on a weekday morning. But today there were no waits at the ticket counters, few people were inside the terminals and the normally noisy walkways were quiet except for the hum of escalators.
United Airlines had only two flights to Los Angeles this morning; American Airlines had just one.
Airport chaplain Rev. Richard Uftring, who started his career as a priest at Blessed Sacrament Church in Houghs Neck, Quincy, said, I’m telling people just believe in who we are as an airport community and as a nation.”
The number of passengers coming into and out of Logan Airport, normally 400,000 people a week, is down to an estimated 243,000 this week.
The whole week is slow,” said Barbara Platt of the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates Logan Airport.
But despite the somber mood at Logan today, some people were still flying and remained defiant.
The president said you can carry on. No one’s going to be impeded. If they want to frighten us, we’ll frighten them back,” said Alexander Ferraro of Milton, who was flying to Arizona.
Doug Reese of Plympton, who was waiting to board the same flight, said: I wanted to travel on Sept. 11. We’re going to see our own country.”
Bob Quinn of Watertown, a Korean War veteran on his way to San Diego for a Navy reunion, said: A lot of people said I wouldn’t fly today. It doesn’t bother me. When your number’s up, it’s up.”
Tom Benner may be reached at email@example.com.
Click here to read much more from The Patriot Ledger’s Sept. 11 One Year Later” Special Report.
Copyright 2002 The Patriot Ledger Transmitted Wednesday, September 11, 2002