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Friday, 14 September, 2001, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
First US flights arrive
Armed police at Heathrow Airport
Security has also been stepped up at UK airports
Passengers on the first transatlantic flight from America since Tuesday's terror attacks have described their relief on touching down on British soil.

An American Airlines service from Chicago - the first US plane to reach Britain since America resumed international flights - landed at Heathrow Airport just after 0800BST.

Passengers said there had been a much more visible security presence as they were passing through Chicago airport.

US airspace was completely closed in the aftermath of the attacks on New York and Washington, causing disruption to airports around the world.

It was quite a sombre flight

Jim Burns

Chicago real estate salesman Robert Buhrow, visiting Britain for a holiday, said: "People clapped when we finally took off. It's a good feeling to be here. It's a miracle we're here considering the way the flights have been disrupted.

"There was a lot more security at Chicago. It was kind of eerie. There was a lot more police around.

"After they had scanned my bag, they opened it up as well to have a look. It made me feel somewhat safe."

Deborah Overoyen, a 46-year-old American dentist, who lives in Qatar, was not concerned about travelling on to the Middle East.

"I feel safe there," she said. "There was a sense of relief to be finally moving and leaving. People started clapping when we took off but on the flight itself the atmosphere was quite subdued.

"There is a strong sense of nationality in America at the moment. Everyone thinks it's so sad. No-one wants more violence."

Noor Kheir, from Hampton Court, returns to Britain
Some UK residents had been stranded in America
Analyst Jim Burns, 32, from Chicago, who is also here on holiday, said: "It was quite a sombre flight. It was pretty quiet.

"People cheered when we took off though. I think everyone is relieved things seem to be getting back to normal.

"The security at Chicago was a lot more strict than it had been. The police presence was particularly great.

"The domestic flights seem to be the most backed-up over there."

Return to normal

American Airlines has said it hopes a limited number of US-bound flights will fly from Gatwick and Heathrow on Friday.

Passengers are advised to call the airline on 08457 789789.

Some American airports are now allowing non-stop international flights from high security airports to land.

British Airways flights to America are still suspended pending new security measures from the US Federal Aviation Authority, but the company says it hopes to resume some services to Canada on Friday.

No Virgin Atlantic flights to the US and Canada will go ahead on Friday.

As air services in the UK start to return to normal, a ban on low-flying over central London will end at midnight on Saturday.

The World Trade Center tower collapsing
The attacks have had huge knock-on effects
The government has also announced that London City Airport, which has been shut since the attacks, will reopen on Friday.

Aircraft using London City will follow different flight paths until all the London restrictions are lifted.

Meanwhile, passengers planning to fly out from UK airports have been warned not to pack sharp objects in their hand luggage.

UK airports operator BAA said banned items include knives, scissors, nail files, razor blades and knitting needles.

A BAA spokesman said: "They can check with their airline or their departure airport on what can be carried on board and if in any doubt, should pack items in their hold luggage."

See also:

12 Sep 01 | UK
Attacks cancel UK flights
12 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair calls emergency security meeting
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