Travelers wait their turn at Heathrow Airport

London awaits word to resume U.S. flights

Terrorism Strikes America

Transportation

September 13, 2001|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

LONDON - Living on rumors, coffee and candy, Neil Pittman, a 50-year-old welder from Winchester, prepared last night to spend a second night camped out at Heathrow Airport waiting for an Air Canada flight to Vancouver.

The world's busiest international airport wasn't very busy for a second straight day, as North American flights remained suspended because of Tuesday's terror attacks in the United States.

"You have to deal with it," Pittman said, sitting idly while hundreds of people waited in vain to get on flights. "We need more seats. We need better seats. And we need a television."

Security was visibly tightened at Heathrow, with police patrols on the concourses, stiffer checks at passport control and flight patterns keeping planes away from central London.

"We still don't have any official confirmation that flights can resume to the United States or Canada," said a spokeswoman for BAA, which operates London's airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

From Heathrow, there are normally 70 scheduled departures to the United States.

Passengers took the delays in stride.

Richard Chappel of Leeds was to begin a trip hiking in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state. Instead, he was in the midst of a marathon journey that began Tuesday when he flew from Manchester to Copenhagen, Denmark, and continued yesterday when he landed at Heathrow for a connecting flight that never materialized.

"My option was to go back to Manchester and go back to work, or wait it out," said Chappel, a chartered surveyor. "I want to go climb some mountains."

Jessica Morris of Minneapolis has been trying to get home for two days. "This is the first time I've ever traveled by myself," she said. "It's not good."

Francoise Homsi, a 15-year-old from Los Angeles, was marooned with the others. After spending one night sleeping in the airport, she and her mother opted to go to a friend's house to wait for their flight home.

"What is it like to spend a night at Heathrow?" she said. "A nightmare."

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