Last updated: 2001.09.29

Grace Under Pressure: Travel from Boston Logan Airport After September 11th.

September 29th, 2001. Boston Logan International Airport.

Arrived at 6:20 am for 8:45 American Airlines, flight AA189 to Seattle connecting to Tokyo. It is strange to see that all the airport parking is empty. With almost no car traffic around and in the airport, the airport looks almost unused. Inside the AA terminal, it is a different story. Lines are extremely long. The normal check-in line goes all the way down the terminal. Same for the security gate line.

The first and business class check-in line is about 20 people deep. For the few times that I am upgraded to first class, this time it makes the difference. An agent moved me to almost the front of that line. Check in was, if anything, faster than usual. 20 minutes later I am done.

One thing to note, is that all the staff were extra friendly and helpful. Same go for the US Marshall and two US Border Guides. They were answering questions, helping people with luggage. One big happy family. One question is, why are they only nice now that we are in a crisis mode. Shouldn't they be nice all the time?

Back to the process. The line to go through security check is long. It took my one hour and 20 minutes to get to the check point. If you are familiar with the terminal B layout, the line goes all the way down to the Chicago gates at the end of the terminal. They sometimes start a second line to get people through on flights that are due. There are only two security check station open. Question: why don't they install more station, or use the small station for middle gates? Saw two people carring rifle and machine guns walking down the terminal once. Don't know to which government branches they belong.

How tight is the security check? Same as before. The metal detector sensitivity seems to be dialed up. Some people were asked to put their shoes through X-rays, maybe the shoe buckles is setting off the metal detector. My carry on is full of metal and electronics (one laptop, palm pilot, AC brick, empower brick, MD player, nokia phone). I sail right though the check point. I always put my wallets and other things that may set off the metal detector in my bag when going thought the check point. Never understand why people do not do that so that they don't have to go through the "empty your pockets" routine. Save so much time. This time I put my Swatch, which has a metel strap) in the bag as well. Just in case.

My plane is only half full. It was delayed one hour because they had to wait for a few passengers, probably delayed at the check in or security check. There were no Newspaper nor magazines on board. Delivery problem?

Seattle airport was very quiet as well. Normally the AA lounge would be half full. Today there were only a few people. The 777 is at most 1/3 full.

The good news about less passenger is that everything else is faster. From landing in Narita, through immigration, pick up baggage, and custom, only took 20 minutes.

The obvious conclusion

Airport staff should always be as friendly and helpful, before or after the crisis. Processing should be faster. Nothing new is being done, yet the lines are longer now. And number of travelers are down. Make no sense.

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