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Friday, 14 September, 2001, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Reflection replaces Heathrow buzz
Heathrow Airport's Terminal 3
Passengers with missing relatives got priority at Heathrow
By BBC News Online's Sarah Toyne at Heathrow

A white floral display marked the entrance to the American Airlines' check-in desk at Heathrow's Terminal 3 on Friday.

It was a small reminder of the atrocities that took place across the Atlantic and which would greet the many Americans eager to get home.

But the frantic activity normally associated with Britain's busiest airport was replaced by an orderly calm.

While a queue to the terminal building stretched for several hundred metres, looping around the entrance, there was no pushing or shoving.

Far from home

Jen Tardiff, 22, and her friend Anand Motwani, 24, sat with their luggage close to the United Airline's check-in desk.

Both from Los Angeles, this was their second trip to Heathrow in a week.

On Tuesday, after six days in London and three days in Paris, they were travelling back home via New York.

Jen Tardiff and Anand Motwani
Jen Tardiff and Anand Motwani

But, they were among the many people who had set off home last Tuesday, but had been re-routed back to the UK.

They had spent the last few days sleeping on a friend's sofa in Putney, south London.

On Friday afternoon they were among thirty other people on standby for a United Airlines flight to Los Angeles.

"We had a good time, but now all I want to do is go home....to see my family and for life to return to normal," Jen said.

Shared pain

Each person at the airport had their own personal story to tell about where they were when the atrocities took place - and were eager to talk.

They either knew people who had been in the World Trade Centre or had a friend who did.

Lyn McNorton
Lyn McNorton with her "small" hand luggage

John Lynn, a national key accounts manager for a cutlery firm from Nottingham, was waiting for the Cathay Pacific desk to open, adjacent to American Airlines.

Mr Lynn visited the WTC just 12 weeks ago.

He spoke about a security guard at the building who he had befriended during his visit.

"It's heart breaking to think that such a nice person would have been on duty. He would have been next to the top floor and the chances of survival are remote."

Tuesday's events had preoccupied his thoughts all week - the brokers and dealers who he had seen in the plaza around the WTC - and of course, the security guard, he said.

"It has affected all of our lives, " he added.

Caught up

There was evidence that the delays were not only affecting those flying to North America.

Lynn McNorton and her husband David, were in transit on their way to Singapore, but they had missed their connection because their flight had been delayed by two-and- a-half hours.

Heightened security checks at Edinburgh airport - involving x-ray checks on mobiles and cameras, along with body frisking and hand luggage restrictions - had delayed their onward journey, which could now take 28 hours in total.

"We could be facing a night in a hotel, " said Mr McNorton.

"But this is a minor problem compared to what those poor people are experiencing in New York."

Priority passengers

The first people to leave on Friday were those who had lost relatives in the atrocities.

Second on the list were people whose flights had turned around and come back to the UK, when American airspace had been closed.

Dan Conrad
Dan Conrad, travelling back to Montreal
Dan Conrad, 47, from Montreal in Canada had been mid-way across the Atlantic when his plane was turned around.

He had been in Brussels for work and was flying via London on the way back.

Mr Conrad, who works in the textiles business, has spent the last few days at a hotel in central London.

He said: "It is an inconvenience but there is a bigger picture to think about. "

Briton John Lynn also spoke about the wider ramifications of the bombs, his fears for religious intolerance towards Muslims and the lives of ordinary Afghans.

"It's all terribly depressing. People are all suffering now, but more will be suffering in the future," he said.


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See also:

14 Sep 01 | Business
Transatlantic flights resume
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