I am a flight attendant with one of 2 airlines involved on 9/11. It is an especially hard day for all airline crew. Ask me anything!
*An important edit - I’d like to address and preface this before you go on to read through this thread. It seems that the wording of my title has stirred up controversy and/or has mislead some people. In retrospect, I do think that my choice of words is placed a bit awkwardly. Apologies, I won’t claim that I am the most eloquent person. I am not claiming to be a survivor from one of the hijacked planes (which i’ve been accused of proposing in this thread, jeez), or trying to detract from the day and ‘make it about me’.
My title was meant to convey: I am a flight attendant with 26 years of seniority at one of the two airlines that were used during the attacks that day. I was hired in 1995 and was flying the night prior, from JFK to ORD, on September 10. I was stuck in Chicago after the attacks and air space being closed down. I am still employed by the airline, but have taken a personal leave from work since 2020, when many of us took leaves to avoid the need to furlough more junior flight attendants due to COVID decimating the travel industry. I am still out on personal leave.
I’d also like to address those who are bewildered that I feel the need to offer the insight of airline crew from this day, as if crew had nothing to do with it or were not directly involved. Please understand that sentiment could not be further from the truth:
I was obviously not on any of the 4 hijacked planes that day. I did not run in to my death up to the WTC. I didn’t lose a spouse, parent, or child. Correct. But that doesn’t detract from my experience. Everyone experienced 9/11, the shop owners in Manhattan were involved, the firefighters were involved, the residents near shanksville involved, the motorists driving by the pentagon were involved - and I, and all of our FA’s/pilots that day, were part of the airline family that was involved, watching the TV replays and wondering; “good lord, is that our plane? Is that from my base? Is that my good friend Anna on that plane who I asked to take my trip to SFO today, did I just send her to her death? Is that John on there, who I KNOW always flies the early transcon route during the week, I just had a layover with him last week, please don’t let it be him.. “ and so on. These were real thoughts flowing through all of our heads. Our families and loved ones had every reason to believe that it was any of us on those planes that died. Do you know how emotional and hard it is to call your parents/loved ones, who had every reason to believe that you could have been killed because you are a crew member on one of the involved airlines, and happened to be away on a trip that day, and hear their voice for the first time?
I have not in any of my responses conveyed anything that could be considered exploiting or using anything to my gain. I have not advertised a book, redirected people to a website or product, etc. I am offering insight into what this day / those immediate days/weeks were like at the time for airline crew members - a group that was VERY much so affected, yet often forgotten about in the narrative of 9/11. Is my bearing witness that disturbing or selfish, yet it’s completely okay for other groups - firefighters, LEOs, politicians, etc. can bear witness on TV, articles, etc? We went on a plane back to work everyday for the weeks following the event while most people couldn’t handle the prospect of an airplane at that time. I am telling my story and the story of airline crew as a collective during that time period. I am proud to represent that, 100% yes.
So yes, I do feel more involved than someone that was sitting at home watching TV in Arkansas. There is absolutely nothing wrong with bearing witness - it is human nature to bear witness. When you hear about someone that you knew passing away, but maybe weren’t close or great friends with, what do most people do? “Oh wow, I just saw them a few months ago” “That’s so sad, I remember her being so sweet at Jen’s wedding” and so on. It is bearing witness. When you talk about 9/11 with somebody, what do most people do? They recount where they were and what they were doing. Is it undermining it detracting from what happened that day, or making it about them? Absolutely not. It is bearing witness. And I am bearing witness to what I, and my collective airline family, experienced that day and following weeks as a family that suffered a loss. It is a perspective that is far too often overlooked and I’m offering my testimony, and those of my coworkers, to shed light on what it was like for us - a group that this definitely hit close to home for.
-edit: I won't be answering any questions concerning sensitive security information, like security procedures, anything involving air marshalls, etc. to obviously maintain the secure integrity of these things, and well, I definitely don't want to lose my job! :)