On this day in 2001, Sept. 10, I was at Logan International Airport in Boston waiting to board an American Airlines flight that would get me to Calgary after a plane change in Chicago. The turnaround time in Chicago was just 38 minutes, which left me feeling a bit nervous. Would I make my connecting flight? O’Hare International Airport was notorious for delays because of congestion and high winds.
The American Airlines agent assured me everything would be O.K. “It’s a legal turnaround,” she said. I wasn’t convinced. “Put me on standby for an earlier flight,” I said.
I left Logan two hours earlier than my originally scheduled departure time of 4:23 p.m. That meant I was going to be hanging around O’Hare for a while, but I didn’t mind. I would be there in plenty of time to make the last flight out of Chicago to Calgary.
Just as I had feared, the 4:23 p.m. flight out of Boston was delayed getting into O’Hare. It still hadn’t arrived by the time I boarded the 6:44 p.m. flight bound for Calgary. I thanked my lucky stars because I could have been stuck in Chicago that night.
The following morning, safely at home in Calgary, I turned on CNN after hearing a report on CBC Radio that a plane (originally reported as a light aircraft) had flown into the World Trade Center. A few hours later, all civilian air traffic in the United States and Canada was grounded until Sept. 13. A week after that, thousands of stranded travellers were still trying to get out of the States to their homes in other parts of the world.
CNN anchor Aaron Brown’s first day on the job was Sept. 11, 2001. I can only echo what he said shortly after the second plane hit the twin towers: “There are no words.”