cutting flights on September 11, 2002
By Dave Carpenter
Wednesday, July 31, 2002; 6:10 PM
Some of the nation's largest airlines are cutting
back their Sept. 11 flight schedules, bowing to
Americans' reluctance to fly on the anniversary of
American and United, the two biggest carriers, are
making unspecified reductions for that day based
on weak bookings. No. 3 Delta is trimming flights
for the entire work week of Sept. 9-13.
Unease about another terrorist strike is behind
the decline in bookings, but so are patriotism and
remembrance, according to interviews with
consumers, travel agents and industry experts.
Some said the date just doesn't seem right for
scheduling business or pleasure trips.
"To me, that's a national holiday now,"
Donnie Rose, a 49-year-old policeman from
Cambridge, Ohio, said at the airport in Columbus.
A frequent flier, he will avoid the skies that
Even for a midweek in September, a traditionally
slow travel period, numerous agencies nationwide
say they have noticed a particular reluctance
among both business and leisure travelers to make
reservations around Sept. 11, which falls on a
"A lot of people don't want to travel that
day just for the feeling of it," said Marat
Shkandin, a manager at Liberty Travel, just blocks
from World Trade Center site in New York.
"The actual day still means something to
More than 3,000 people died that day after
suicidal hijackers crashed commercial jetliners
into the trade center, the Pentagon and a field in
Air travel fell dramatically after the attacks
before making a strong comeback. Government
measures have helped invigorate the ailing
industry, including a multibillion-dollar bailout
for struggling carriers and toughened checkpoint
But passenger traffic was still down 10.4 percent
in June from a year earlier, according to the
industry's Air Transport Association. Many
consumers remain skittish about air travel, with
polls indicating that security improvements have
only partially restored lost confidence.
Michael Wascom, a spokesman for the airline
association, played down the fear factor while
acknowledging that travel may be down on Sept. 11.
"It'll be business as usual that day. In
fact, one of the safest places to be on 9-11-02
will be aboard a commercial aircraft," he
said, citing the stepped-up security. "But I
think people will be focused on other issues and
not necessarily taking a trip."
None of the airlines cutting flights would say how
many will be canceled or on which routes. Among
those flights that won't be operating are those
for the four planes that went down in the attacks.
American Airlines retired the two daily flights,
while United renumbered its two and canceled them
altogether for the anniversary.
"We have made a small adjustment in our
schedule downward just for Sept. 11, because of
anticipated lower demand," said United
spokesman Joe Hopkins. "But we'll still be
operating the bulk of our schedule,"
including all international flights.
American, the No. 1 carrier, expects to cancel a
smaller number of flights on Sept. 10 and Sept. 12
because bookings are lagging. Delta Air Lines cut
back for a longest period, Sept. 9-13, citing weak
Northwest declined to comment and Continental
Airlines hasn't decided whether to scale back on
Sept. 11. Spokesmen for both US Airways and
America West Airlines said they anticipate neither
a travel drop-off nor schedule adjustments.
Nervousness about flying could be highest in the
cities of last year's attacks. At STA Travel in
Boston, where two of the hijacked flights
originated, agent Idoia Mezo said it's clear
people are trying to avoid Sept. 11 flights.
"If they can choose, they won't take the
11th," she said. "It's more like a
superstition than being scared."
In New York, cook Darryl Cherry said she wouldn't
mind traveling on Sept. 11 - "so long as it's
not by plane." Neery Melkonian, who also
works in New York, said she would have no trouble
flying that day.
"Life goes on," she said. "Besides,
I don't think they'd strike on the same day