Impact of 9/11

September 11 attacks

“It was a man, and not an ostrich, who invented the dictum that ‘what you don’t now won’t hurt you.’ The truth is the precise opposite. Most of what exists is invisible, and the greatest dangers are those which, . . . surprise their victims disarmed as well as ignorant.”Ralph Barton Parry

A blog to inform

Foreknowledge and a plan of action are critical so that you are equipped to respond intelligently and not react in a panic. It is this mindset—so ingrained in me as a flight attendant—I want to pass it on. I wrote Smart Steps for Safe Travel in the aftermath of 9/11 as a tool for the uneducated traveler.

Why do we need a plan? Because — they have a plan

Trust took a hit

airplane crash

Airline passengers put a lot of trust in transportation industry professionals. On 9/11 that confidence tumbled with the Twin Towers.

The passengers in the four planes hijacked that day probably had little control over their fate, save for those on United Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania. Their aircraft was hijacked nearly an hour after the first plane flew into the World Trade Center.

Through contact with people on the ground they learned that two planes had crashed into the WTC and another into the Pentagon. So, those passengers and flight attendants had time to assess their situation, interpret the terrorist’s purpose, formulate a plan, prepare themselves and those they were in contact with, and practice mentally the actions they would take.

The strategy of compliance

It’s not that flight crews did not have a plan. They did. But their procedures did not take into account people who would slit the throats of female flight attendants to gain entrance into the cockpit and kill the pilots. They were prepared to sacrifice their lives by crashing planes into strategic targets. Compliance as a strategy became outdated that day.

Today there is another policy—
A plan of action that includes not only the pros, but also all travelers.

women fight back

The 9/11 terrorists had a scheme. They practiced and carried it out. The aircrew’s plan proved to be the wrong plan. Security tactics and precautions of the government and industry to prevent terrorism failed that day.

Passengers didn’t know they needed to be part of a plan

If the new plan had been in effect would that historic event have played out differently? We don’t know.

The strategy of today

What we do know is there is nothing they won’t do, but there is a lot more you can do.


It’s smart to be on your toes

In this blog I’ll share my experience and knowledge as well as other travel pros. Travelers are not as nervous as they were 11 years ago, but we should be as smart.

flight attendant showing exits

The day of the passive passenger is past

passengers in airport

Historian Victor Davis Hanson wrote in his book, The Land Was Everything, (published in 2000) that the suburban information-age man is a pampered and conforming creature who “depends on someone else for everything from his food to his safety.”

We enjoyed that passive “sit back and relax and enjoy the trip” attitude for a long time, but in light of the risks of this new age following 9/11, travelers should take a proactive role and exchange complacency for challenge, rekindling the pioneer spirit of those hearty travelers who traveled before in-flight movies and without cell phones—those self-reliant souls who trekked to the ends of the earth before jet planes and luxury ocean liners.

Pioneers of the past


World travelers of yesteryear faced dangers and inconveniences we modern day “jet-setters” can’t begin to imagine like fending off attacks from natives, pirates and robbers. Well, actually, there are still pirates in some places and robbers are everywhere today.

But back then passengers were expected to wield a gun or sword and fight off the attackers. However, before 2001 we passengers were content to sit back and let the transportation professionals take care of us. Like Greyhound used to say, “Leave the driving to us.”

Learn from the pros

The armed forces, first responders, and transportation personnel, always have a plan and are educated and trained to respond automatically. They anticipate the risks in advance, take precautions to avoid or, at least, minimize them, and are alert and prepared to react at a moment’s notice. It’s the preparation beforehand that produces confidence and control.

Actual on-hands training

life raft

I was a flight attendant for 20 years. My training—initial and annual recurrent—included simulated exercises in all sorts of emergency situations. I slid down escape slides, boarded a life raft from the sea, evacuated a full plane in minutes and opened plane doors and windows in the dark so many times I could still do it in my sleep.

I haven’t flown as a flight attendant for many years but I still remember the steps for CPR—steps I learned and practiced though I’ve never needed them nor taken a refresher course. The point is I still can. The training is that ingrained.


“During an emergency a person’s presence of mind is often offset by absence of thought.”–Unknown

In an emergency there is often no time to think, you just act. How you act determines your survival.

This blog will equip you with the knowledge to help you be a survivor. Have you survivor stories you can share?

knowledge and skills