First a financial boom and then a financial bust
This past Sunday marked the ten-year anniversary of the greatest attack on our nation. Like everyone else, I will remember that day for the rest of my life. From the moment the attack began I knew it was going to have a major effect on our business. I just didn’t realize it would be an effect that would last forever.
Since my wife was on-duty as a 911 operator when the attacks occurred, I was notified immediately after the first tower had been hit by a plane. All 911 centers around the nation were notified and placed on “high alert”. I don’t think even 911 centers knew what “high alert” was as it wasn’t normal.
As I answered the phone from a dead sleep, my wife said, “Turn on the TV!” I asked her what channel I should tune to. She said, “ANY CHANNEL!” As I turned the TV on, I watched the second tower get hit on live television. I quickly woke my teenage kids up and made them come to the living room to watch. I didn’t know what was happening but I knew this was bad.
I quickly got dressed and decided that I needed to go to the gas station and fill my tank up with gas. I wondered if the other people pumping gas had any idea what had just happened.
As planes were immediately forced out of the sky, there was an instant surge of business at our local airport as we loaded passengers up from planes forced to land in our city under orders of the president. We had a bus full of people that we were taking to Burbank airport when we somehow learned that the airport was closed and no one allowed on the property. We called our local airport to ask what we should do. They told us not to bring the people back to the airport as they too were now closed. It was chaos. We had no idea what to do with the people.
We were billing the airlines under vouchers normally used for stranded passengers. As you may recall, the air travel industry was shut down for days causing a financial disaster for them and what we thought was going to be great pay became work done without any income for months. The government had to “bail-out” the airline industry and only then did we start seeing our payments.
Next came the operational changes at the airport that remain in place today. No more parking at the white curb to go check the arrival monitor. Everything changed and the random car inspections began and went on for months. It was definitely an event that changed the industry forever and left a permanent scar from that horrible day.
— Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor
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