Threat in New York grounds Northwest

Jabari Ritchie

Passengers who had waited two long days to fly home were finally preparing to leave the Twin Cities early Tuesday evening, until another alleged terrorism scare stranded them in their temporary homes for at least one more day.

A representative from the Metropolitan Airport Commision told The Minnesota Daily someone allegedly posed as a pilot and used false identification in an attempt to board a plane at New York’s John Fitzgerald Kennedy International Airport.

“As a result, Northwest Airlines put safety first and canceled all of (Thursday night’s) flights,” Jenny Bowring-McDonough, public information specialist for MAC, said.

At press time, the flights were postponed until further notice.

“I guess the terrorists are winning,” Jerry Cross, a sales manager from Columbus, Ohio, said after he learned he would not be going home tonight.

Cross hoped to fly home to see his newborn baby girl for the first time Thursday. After the cancellation of his flight, he decided driving was a better option.

Larry Gillem, a chemical salesman from Nashville, Tenn., was also trying to get home to his family.

“I’ve been trying to get to Nashville for two days. I’ve been at the airport since 2 p.m. just watching (my) plane just sitting there. They said the next flight is tomorrow, and I’m not waiting,” Gillem said.

Gillem, like many others, said he planned on renting a car. But some travelers were not able to get rental cars.

While frustrated passengers wait, the airlines plan to try again tomorrow.

Patrick Hogan, spokesman for MAC, said MSP International would be more than ready for air travel Thursday night.

“We’re ready right now,” Hogan said Thursday afternoon “We were ready last night.”

Hogan said early Thursday night was the first scheduled takeoff. However, at 6:45 p.m. when the alleged illegal boarding attempt took place, no Northwest planes had left the terminals.

Chris Romankiewicz, a University of Montana journalism student, left Nantuckett, Mass. Monday trying to get home.

“No matter what, you’re going to be apprehensive,” Romankiewicz said of traveling after the attacks, “but I want to get back to Missoula.”

Romankiewicz said he unsuccessfully tried to rent a car Tuesday after he learned air travel would be canceled for at least one day.

“People are making new friends, trying to find people to drive with,” Cross said. “We’re carpooling across the country.”

Earlier Thursday night, many tired but happy to be on their way individuals lined up to get their baggage checked on what should have been the end to their waiting.

“In a few hours, I’ll be in Iceland,” Christian Elgaard, a traveler from Iceland said.

“Hopefully.”

Elgaard, who originally flew to Los Angeles, got married in Las Vegas and planned on flying home, has been stranded in the Twin Cities since Wednesday.

“With everything I’ve seen, I think we’re pretty safe,” Elgaard said. “I mean, with all the trouble they’ve gone through, it’s about a one in a million chance something would happen.”

Brittany Bayness, a communications and English major at Luther College in Iowa said, “We’re supposed to leave at 7 (p.m.), but I don’t think that is going to happen.”

Bayness is planning on studying in England this year.

“Safety-wise, I’m glad they stopped all flights. Realistically, I want to get to England,” she said. “I’m going to miss orientation now.”

Jessica Cathcart, a Minnesotan who was on her way to Scotland for a study abroad program, said she wasn’t nervous about traveling.

“I haven’t seen a whole lot, but from what I can see, (the security) is adequate,” Cathcart said.

Jenni Dickau, a University liberal arts sophomore, took advice from her grandfather on her way to Colorado Springs for the weekend.

“He said if I didn’t go, then it would be like letting (the terrorists) win. So why be scared?” Dickau said.

Many among the stranded said they’ll wait as long as it takes.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Cathcart said, “I don’t know what to say. If I’m supposed to go tomorrow, then I’ll go tomorrow. I just pray that people can reach peace.”

Once again, cots will be rolled out for those who cannot make their way to a relative’s or a friend’s house, while those with homes will return to them and wait.

Another scare, dragging out another day of terror, was still not enough to destroy Cross’ resolve to complete a committment to a family member.

“My son’s got a football game Friday night,” he said, “and I’m going to be there.”