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Unexpected Layover

My name is Diane Speaks, and I am a retired flight attendant who owns She’s International Boutique. I shop all over the world and bring luxuries from Europe and beyond. 

Day of Significance

The reason I started this business was because 18 years ago America was a victim of the 9/11 attacks. Next month, we will commemorate 9/11 again. This day was very significant for all of us, and we all remember where we were when we heard the news. 

I was on a Boeing 757, coming back from Amsterdam. I had just had a 3-day trip and my flight crew and I had been on the plane when our captain whispered the news. We were all in shock. 

Grounded

The captain did not want everyone to know that the United States’ had been attacked and America was officially closed. At 12:15, the captain announced that we had to land due to weather in Philadelphia of course that wasn’t true. At 12;45 we landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

By the end of the day, there were 51 airplanes on the ground in Halifax. It was actually beautiful to look out the window and see the tails of all of the aircraft all over the world. We were number 29 in line. 

Neighbors

The city of Halifax came out in droves; volunteers from all over. We had to be processed and checked for security. We were on the airplane, waiting to be ushered into the city, from 12:45 am to 12:45 pm, 12 hours. 

There were not many cellphones; therefore, there was not much communication. People were crying, praying and simply trying to understand. 

There was a lady in 2A who was really worried because she had 2 sons who worked in the world trade center. We found out later that one of her sons had run out to go to the cleaners; that son lived. 

Halifax

Finally at 12:45, when we went in the terminal, the passengers went to civic centers and downtown where they stayed for three days. Eddie Bauer and Orvis provided sleeping bags, towels, washcloths, etc. for these people. 

10,000 people were unexpected visitors in the beautiful seaside city. All the visitors that stayed downtown never bought a meal; all the restaurants opened their hearts and took special care of them. The pharmacies were open 24/7 for the next 3 days, and there was entertainment! Canada hosted dog shows, bag pipe shows, boxing exhibitions, and music and dance! 

Going Home

Three days later, we all met at the airport; out of our 165 passengers, 149 waited for us to take them home. The passengers were very grateful and very happy to return to America. 

Here we are, 18 years later, and the memory is still very clear in my mind. This year, on September 11th, I’ll be back in the beautiful city of Amsterdam that still makes me smile.