This evening I have been thinking back 15 years.
While waiting at Heathrow for my flight to San Francisco I saw a Concorde on one of the taxiways and snapped a picture. I found out later that it was the first flight carrying passengers since a crash the previous year had grounded the entire Concorde fleet.
My flight was on British Airways and here is a picture of the aircraft being serviced for our trip to San Francisco. I was tired of walking around the airport and was ready to get settled in for the long flight home. Little did I realize that it would be a long time before I would make it home.
We finally boarded and took off toward San Francisco and I spent time reading and watching movies. In between movies I would turn on the map to see what our progress was. While flying over Greenland the map program all of a sudden no longer had an estimated arrival time. It only had our current location and the prior flight path. I assumed that there was a glitch in the program.
It was not until about five hours later that I found out the reason why the map program no longer gave our destination. The pilot announced that we would be landing in Edmonton because of flight restrictions into San Francisco. We were soon dumping fuel and set down in Edmonton.
It was only after we were on the ground that the pilot gave us the reason why we landed in Edmonton, and then only brief details. We were allowed to use cell phones and soon we all knew what had happened.
I first called the HR VP at my office to find out what was going on as my phone showed he was trying to call me. I was the last known traveler to check in at work and there was great concern about me as it had been some hours after the events. Flights had been been grounded in the US for probably at least four hours. Because of where we were when events happened we were one of the last US bound flights to land.
The plane was parked with others at a remote location, so we were loaded on to buses and taken to the terminal. At the terminal we were given instructions for getting to a hotel and instructions on how to keep in contact and were quickly put into taxis.
The next morning we were instructed to go back to the airport. Because of the uncertainty as to when US airspace would open again British Airways flew us back to London until it was possible to fly us back to San Francisco.
After a couple nights in London I was finally able to fly home to a changed country.
It seems hardly possible that it has been 15 years since that fateful day. A lot has changed in our society and I sometimes wonder if we have forgotten the underlying cause of that day.
For more details of my saga you can read my post from three years ago: Remembering September 11