9/11 As A Flight Attendant

Monday, September 11, 2017


On September 11, 2001 I was an eleven year old homeschooler who was excited that we were getting satellite TV at my house in rural Vermont. 
Cable TV didn't reach that far (it still doesn't), and I was excited to be able to watch the History Channel, MTV, and Disney Channel Original Movies. 

The first thing we watched with our new TV was airplanes crashing into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. 

Like most Americans, I remember that day with absolute clarity, but as a kid, you can't appreciate the magnitude of a moment like that in history. 
I knew something horrible had happened. I knew the adults around me were shocked and horrified. 
But I just didn't have the perspective to understand the ramifications of what was unfolding that day. Did anyone, really?

For the next 14 years, 9/11 was a horrifying moment in history that changed the world and devastated the lives of innocent people, but it felt far away from my life in rural Northern Vermont. 

Then I became a Flight Attendant. 

I remember so clearly seeing the memorial to the American Airlines Flight Crews at our training center in Dallas while I was there learning how to do this job. 
It hit me that if these people hadn't been murdered, they would have been my co-workers. 

Between that memorial and the security procedures we learned and constantly practiced, 9/11 didn't seem like a far away historical event anymore. 
It became something that had happened to my airline. 
To my colleagues. 
It became something that I had a personal responsibility to prevent from ever happening again. 

As a passenger, you just have no idea the steps Flight Attendants take every minute of every flight to keep you safe, whether it's from turbulence, dehydration, or a terrorist attack. 

On 9/11/2001 the Flight Attendants were the first of the First Responders who tried to save lives that day. 
They tried to stop the hijackers. 
They called the ground to warn people. 
They knew what was happening and they. fought. back. 

Every single day, Flight Attendants save lives in the air and on the ground. 
It's what we're trained for. 
It's our job. 

Too often, passengers are completely disrespectful towards us when we enforce the rules and follow the procedures that are in place to keep you all safe. 
Once, I even got yelled at by a passengers for following anti-hijacking procedures. 
He thought his drink was more important than the safety of everyone on our aircraft. 
Seriously. 

Flight Attendants and Pilots think about September 11th every single day. 
When Come From Away came out, I was delighted as a fan of musical theatre, but I was more delighted as a Flight Attendant. It felt like people were paying attention to the day that changed everything. 

So many people lost loved ones on that day and in the weeks, months, and years after as a result. 
So many acts of heroism were performed by everyday people. 

But it was the flight crews and the passengers who were the first to respond and the first to perish. 

Every day I step on an airplane, I am prepared to sacrifice my own safety to protect my passengers and to protect people on the ground. 
We know the risks, and we do this job anyway. 
I am extremely proud to be a Flight Attendant. 

So the next time you fly, bring a thank you note for your flight crew to show your appreciation for the hard work they do to keep you safe. 
Even better, just do what we ask you to, in the air and on the ground. 
But most of all, remember the courage and heroism of Flight Attendants like Betty Ong and read the stories of who they were and how they lived.



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