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Friday, 14 September, 2001, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
Relief for stranded passengers
Passengers wait for flights
American flights are to resume case by case
The backlog of passengers waiting to fly to the US has begun to clear as limited transatlantic flights resumed from the UK.

As US airports gradually reopen, the first US-bound flight left London Heathrow on Friday.

The American Airlines flight F87 left at 1145BST on a return flight to Chicago.

Eight more American Airlines flights are expected to take off from Heathrow for Miami and Los Angeles on Friday.

Passengers at Birmingham and Glasgow airports should also be able to depart for US destinations.

But there are still serious delays, and passengers are being warned to expect at least a three-hour check-in time due to new security measures.

Baggage is being rigorously checked and passengers are urged not to pack scissors, razor blades, nail files, or knitting needles in their hand luggage.

Passengers are staying calm despite delays stretching into days.

Britons stranded in North America are also hoping to catch return flights in the next few days.

Briton Claire Gibbon has been stuck in Newfoundland, Canada, since Tuesday when the plane was halted on its journey to Florida.

She said passengers are being looked after at local schools and that residents have "opened their homes" to them.

Waiting

"We do not know what is going to happen now. Although we know we are safe - we are scared of what the next step will be," she wrote in an email to BBC News Online.

Meanwhile they wait for news of whether their plane will continue or return to Manchester.

A couple who got engaged on the top of the World Trade Center 48 hours before the disaster are stranded in New York.

Owen O'Neill and Ellie Herbert, from Berkshire did not know when they would be flying home.

They are stretching out their money to pay for hotel bills in New York as they wait for news.

The new Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith cannot announce who will have the shadow agriculture post as the person he wants is stuck in the US after the terror attacks.

Five more flights by United Airlines are planned to leave Heathrow on Friday.

American authorities have said only US carriers will be allowed into the country initially and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is to issue new security guidelines to airlines.

The American Embassy in London is compiling a database of people who have offered rooms to stranded Americans. Anyone who has a spare room or is in need of accommodation is being urged to contact the embassy.

British Airways is flying a limited service to Canada with three flights to Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal on Friday afternoon.

Airspace reopens

British Airways said its US flights remain suspended as do its services to Islamabad in Pakistan.

Virgin Atlantic, which operates flights from several UK airports, said its services to the US and Canada would also remain grounded for the day.

Passengers wait
Many passengers are waiting to go home
American airspace was reopened at 1600BST on Thursday but the FAA said it would only be admitting flights from foreign airlines on a "case-by-case" basis when the carriers complied with the "more stringent levels of security".

The UK Government's 6,000ft no-fly zone over central London, imposed on Tuesday, will not be lifted until midnight on Saturday.

London's City Airport will re-open on Friday but with planes diverted away from central London on their flight paths.

Returns to Heathrow

Some flights which had been diverted from the US on Tuesday were allowed to operate over US airspace on Thursday, to reach their intended destination.

About 2,000 passengers who had been about to fly to the US or Canada when the attacks happened have been staying in hotels in London.

Others have been sleeping in Heathrow, in the hopes of being on the spot when flights resume.

The Association of British Travel Agents advise people to check with airlines before departing.

For holidaymakers unable to reach their US destination the UK's Federation of Tour Operators has extended its 48-hour compensation package until midnight Friday, giving a no-penalty refund or free transfer to an alternative holiday.

This covers travel to all parts of the US, except New York, Boston and Washington.

For those due to travel to one of those three destinations a similar deal lasts until midnight on 18 September.

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The BBC's Nick Thatcher
reports from London's Heathrow Airport

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See also:

14 Sep 01 | Business
Transatlantic flights resume
13 Sep 01 | UK
Attacks cancel UK flights
13 Sep 01 | Business
Green light for US flights
13 Sep 01 | Business
More disruption for US flights
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