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Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 23:11 GMT 00:11 UK
Passengers face US flight chaos
Planes on tarmac at Heathrow airport
All US airports have been closed
Passengers flying out of the UK to the United States are facing severe disruption to their journeys following the closure of all US airports.

Many US-bound flights had already left the UK when American officials decided to shut its airports after two planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City.

The collisions were followed by another attack, when a plane crash into the Pentagon in Washington.

There wasn't any panic because we had no idea what was happening

Harriet Lyons

London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Manchester Airport are not expected to operate any flights to or from the US and Canada on Wednesday.

Passengers to North America are urged to contact their airline or travel agent for updated information.

Flights to Europe and other destinations are expected to operate normally on Wednesday, but airports are warning passengers to expect "substantial" delays.

Turned back

Passengers on flights which were turned around on their way to America said they were told nothing of the events in the US.

Harriet Lyons, 27, who was flying to Florida with her parents, said: "We were four-and-a-half hours into our flight and we were told we were turning back because America had shut down.

We are in the process of cancelling all our services in and out of the USA for the remainder of the day

British Airways spokesman
"There wasn't any panic because we had no idea what was happening.

"Nobody knew anything. We assumed there was an air traffic control strike or something."

As well as disruption to North American-bound flights, other services were hit by security measures announced by Tony Blair on Tuesday evening.

Private flights have been stopped, except where specifically authorised, and flight paths into London have been changed so there will be no civil flights over central London.

Contact numbers

British Airways (BA) confirmed that none of its aircraft was involved in the crashes in the US.

A BA spokesman said British Airways flights en route to the USA were diverted to their nearest airport while others returned to the UK.

BA has released a telephone number for passengers who require further information.

They should contact the airline on 0845 7799977.

American Airlines passengers should contact 08457 789789 for more information.

Another major UK-US carrier, Virgin Atlantic, said it had suspended all American flights until further notice.

Underground service

A Virgin spokesman added that flights that had already left the UK for America were returning to Britain.

London Underground is running special shuttle services between Heathrow and central London to help travellers left stranded at the airport.

The trains will run throughout the night at 30-minute intervals and stop at Hounslow Central and Acton and terminate at Hammersmith.

Passengers at Gatwick airport are travelling to Brighton where they will be put up in hotels until their flights are given clearance to resume.

Buses will run from Hammersmith into central London throughout the night.

Another shuttle bus will run between Hammersmith and Liverpool Street, stopping at Paddington and Kings Cross, to serve travellers at Stansted Airport.

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