Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Remember 9-11-01

Passengers jumpy,
but many still
plan to fly

Fears were eased a bit
when more details on
the crash came out

By Lisa Asato

News of yesterday's jetliner crash in New York renewed post-Sept. 11 worries for mainland-bound travelers who said they will not stop flying: They were anxious to get home, see relatives for Thanksgiving or resume work.

"My airlines ticket was for today, so unless they closed the airlines, I was still going to be on it," said Sandra Cornelius, who was leaving for Los Angeles after visiting her daughter, Sarah Harris of Kaimuki.

Cornelius, who had to return to work at a San Bernardino distribution center, said, "I was sorry that it happened for the families, but I'm not afraid to fly."

At 4:17 a.m. Hawaii time yesterday, American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in New York. Coming on the heels of the Sept. 11 suicide attacks in New York and Washington, the crash prompted early concerns of another terror strike.

While lines of would-be travelers snaked along the check-in counters at Honolulu Airport by early afternoon, details were sketchy on the cause of the crash. Officials, while not ruling out terrorism, were pointing to a mechanical failure.

"I think we all need to hear about all the details before we come to any kind of judgment and have any concerns," said Al Leong, who was leaving on a flight to San Francisco.

The "first impression would be that ... (the crash) was related to 9-11," said Leong, a retired engineer.

Leong said he canceled a March skiing trip to Europe for fear that Americans may be targeted overseas, but for him, concern about flying home yesterday was "a passing thought."

"The authorities have warned us about overreacting to the news, especially when all the details are not out yet," he said.

Diane Nelson of Lahaina had flown in from Kahului earlier in the day. She and her 7-year-old grandson, Andrew, were waiting for a flight to Las Vegas, where they will spend Thanksgiving with her husband, children and grandchildren for the first time in three years.

Nelson said her husband called her from Las Vegas with the news, and "all he knew was, there was another plane crash in New York, and they had no idea why." She said she was put at ease by news reports of officials saying they felt the problem was "more mechanical than it was terrorists."

"We're just a little jumpy about it all," she said, referring to yesterday's crash and flying in general after Sept. 11.

"I'm trying to overlook that," she said. "It's just the drive of getting to have the whole family together. It's been a long time. I think that pushes me a lot right now."

Ryan Evans and his new bride, Gina, were leaving for a honeymoon in Las Vegas. They were going with his cousin Todd Kimura and his wife, Linda.

"I woke them all up and told them about (the crash), making sure they (still) wanted to go," Evans said.

"All kinds of things go through your head," he said, adding that terrorists are known to strike on anniversaries and other important dates. The crash came almost exactly two months after the Sept. 11 attacks and a day after Veterans Day, Evans noted.

Kimura said, "I just hoped (the flight) wasn't going to be canceled." He said they arrived at the airport five hours before their 4 p.m. flight in case security was tightened.

For Debbie Genzel there was no wavering about boarding a plane.

"If Sept. 11 was a week ago, I'd be a little bit more concerned, but I think over time (that settles down)," she said.

The Genzels, who were confident enough to board a flight to Honolulu 15 days ago, were looking forward to getting home to their children and dogs in Roseville, Calif.

Her husband, Neil, a firefighter, said: "They said it wasn't related to terrorist incidents. Airplanes are machines; sometimes they break, I guess."

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