Friday, September 14, 2012

Fly to Remember: Flying to New York on 9/11

It wasn't a coincidence that I ended up booking my free trip to New York on 9/11. It was the cheapest city/most miles/date combo to choose from for the entire month of September. More than a decade later, I guess there are still a lot of people out there who are afraid to fly. I am not one of those people. Before you all go passing judgement on me for being opportunistic, and taking advantage of the after-effects of such a horrible travesty, I want to share why I was so insistent on flying on this date. I love to fly. The day we stop doing what we love because we are afraid or intimidated is the day the terrorists win.

So how was flying on September 11th any different than any other day? For the most part it wasn't. My trip was rather uneventful. The passenger loads didn't seem much lighter and for the most part it was business as usual. However you could tell what was in the back of everyone's minds, even though everyone seemed eerily silent about what had happened 11 years ago that day. My opt-out pat down at SMF was just a little bit more thorough that usual. There were small American flags displayed around the cabin of my p.s. flight to New York, and I was just a little bit more hesitant to just jump up out of my seat and take cool pictures for thirtysixthousand.com like I normally do, as I didn't want to arouse suspicion messing around near the exit row windows in front of my seat. I actually didn't get any pictures.

My trip started out at around 6am in Sacramento. I flew down to LAX where I was to connect to my flight to JFK. While we were taxiing, I did something I never do, I checked my twitter. I saw that @ranflyer, the founder of flyertalk and milepoint has just landed at LAX. The tweet included "Fly to remember #9/11". I liked that, "Fly to remember", so I hashtagged it and tweeted back, sharing that I was at LAX too. We never met, but I was still pretty excited when he responded.

Eventhough the hashtag never really caught on, #flytoremember became the theme of the day. All of a sudden my mileage run seemed to have more purpose than just racking up the usual miles and points. I was flying that day because that is what I like to do and thanks to all the brave men and women who serve this country I was able to do so safely and unafraid.

As we made our final decent into JFK I could see the construction at the new World Trade Center site. It is once again the tallest building in the New York skyline, which wasn't the case when I flew to Newark back in April. Having lived on the west coast for most of my life and having only been to New York a handful of times, 9/11 always seemed sort of distant and surreal to me. It didn't that day.

My trip to New York was brief. I got to wander around Terminal 7 for about an hour then returned to the same gate where I had deplaned and waited for my return flight back to the west coast. It was then that I looked out the window and saw something was wrong. To be continued...

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