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The Boston Globe OnlineBoston.com
Boston Globe Online / Nation | World
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AT LOGAN

Travelers, workers cry, console, cope

By John Ellement and Raphael Lewis, Globe Staff, 9/12/2001

Like a funeral cortege, the black limousines lined up outside Logan International Airport by noon yesterday, waiting to ferry to the Airport Hilton the kin of those who perished on two jets that had left Boston just hours earlier.

While the somber procession formed outside, stunned travelers grounded by yesterday's chaos watched televisions in the airport's bars, some of them stone-faced, others clapping when American officials spoke of revenge.

In the shadows, airport employees cried and consoled one another. And at the nearby Holiday Inn bar, idled flight crews drowned their sorrows before the day's endless TV news coverage, weeping for their dead friends and colleagues.

Yesterday was a day like no other in the annals of Boston travel, even though the city was miles away from the carnage in New York.

''It's total devastation. I'm sick,'' said John Federico of Somerville, who works as a ramp agent for Delta Airlines. ''This is a war.''

Fearful that terrorist violence could reach Boston, State Police officers, federal law enforcers, and a host of bomb-sniffing dogs fanned out over Logan yesterday, scouring the terminals for anything suspicious, and interviewing as many of the 17,000 employees who work at the airport as they could find.

Even though the Massachusetts Port Authority closed the airport at 10:18 a.m., it wasn't until 2:30 p.m. that police began to shoo the stranded travelers and the overwhelmed and saddened employees still milling about Logan.

The skies above the airport were preternaturally quiet, though. On a typical day, Logan averages 1,400 flights, and as many as 80,000 people make their way through the airport, but just 200 flights arrived or took off yesterday.

Two of them met with a fate few could have foreseen in their wildest nightmares.

American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767, took off from Gate 26 in Terminal B at 7:59 a.m., carrying 92 passengers and crew members. That jet is believed to have been hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center shortly before 9 a.m.

United Airlines Flight 175, also a Boeing 767, took off at 8:14 a.m. from Terminal C's Gate 19, carrying 56 passengers, two pilots, and seven flight attendants. Aviation officials say they believe that was the second plane to plunge into the World Trade Center, about 18 minutes after the American Airlines flight crashed.

Many of those stuck at Logan thanked God, fate, or simple luck that they had survived the day.

''I'm safe; my family knows I'm OK,'' said Ernie Chappell, a software company owner from Nashville who never got a chance to leave yesterday. ''It could be much worse. I could've been on one of those flights.''

''I don't want to get near an airplane,'' said Colin Williams, a British businessman whose flight to Washington was canceled.

Inside the airport, an eerie quiet descended upon the terminals at 10:30 a.m. as the entire facility headed into lockdown. An announcement made over the public address system said that some baggage was being held from some flights. Passengers were asked to show identification before they picked up their bags from flights that had arrived.

Long lines formed at pay phones as passengers tried to call their families, and the Sam Adams Bar in Terminal C was packed with grounded flight crews watching the news unfold on television.

A Massport shuttle bus driver started crying on his rounds. ''These people, I laugh and joke with them every morning,'' said Mike Walen, a 14-year veteran.

Alice Price, 62, was at Logan on her way to Oklahoma City, where she lives. Price said two of her friends had died in the Oklahoma City bombing.

''I'm terrified,'' she said. ''We've been in tears. It definitely brings it back.''

Some feared that the worst was yet to come, that the crushing loss of four jetliners, untold numbers of other lives in New York and at the Pentagon, and national landmarks had just begun.

''I'm a very religious person, and I believe we're in the time of Revelation,'' said Buddy Shelton, 58, a professional golfer trying to get home to Orlando, Fla. ''We're in the end of days.''

Bill Shields was on a jet preparing to leave Logan to San Diego when the pilot announced they would not take off, stunning the packed jet. ''It was almost surreal,'' Shields said. ''No one said a word.''

Shields, who recently accepted a job that would involve much air travel, immediately called his wife, who was in tears, and then his parents. Their message, he said, was simple. ''They said: `I don't care what you do. You can pick up garbage. But don't fly.'''

Ellen Barry, Farah Stockman, and Michael Rosenwald of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.

This story ran on page A11 of the Boston Globe on 9/12/2001.
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.

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