- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

Delta Air Lines Flight 731 speeded down the runway at Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 4:10 p.m. yesterday, making it the first plane loaded with passengers to depart the airport since Tuesday's terrorist attack.
The plane was headed to Atlanta, but passengers, airport workers and airline employees were just beginning a long, slow journey back to normal.
Just as Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta promised, more police patrolled airports yesterday. U.S. marshals were plentiful.
Their presence was reassuring to Michael Parker, a music teacher from Baltimore trying to get a flight to Miami, because the officers seemed to make it less likely that passengers would come to harm.
"The more safety, the better. Anything they can do. I don't care if it inconveniences me by an hour or two. It's fine with me," Mr. Parker said.
BWI and Washington Dulles International Airport both were far less busy than they are on a typical day. About 750 flights leave BWI each day, but Assistant Executive Director William Castleberry predicted just five planes with passengers would leave the airport yesterday. Tom Sullivan, spokesman at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, predicted about 100 flights would carry passengers from Dulles yesterday. The airport accommodates about 1,400 flights a day. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport remained closed yesterday, but officials said flights were likely to resume today.
The first plane to leave Dulles with passengers, a Delta Airlines flight bound for Cincinnati, took off at 1:30 p.m. with fewer than 20 persons.
"I wouldn't call it a ghost town, but it is by no means a typical day for us," Mr. Sullivan said.
Anne W. Wurts, an urban planner trying to catch a US Airways flight from Baltimore to her home in Los Angeles, was struck by the placid nature of BWI yesterday. Passengers seemed to stroll around the terminal. Parking spaces were plentiful. Police dogs and their handlers sauntered down the carpeted aisles. Starbucks was nearly empty.
David E. Bergman, also an urban planner waiting with Ms. Wurts for a flight home, agreed with his colleague about BWI's subdued quality.
"Everyone is so calm today. But I think anyone who has a problem today with these airline workers is either unstable or an idiot," Mr. Bergman said.
Like Mr. Parker, Mr. Bergman welcomed the increased police presence.
"I would like to see more of an armed presence. I have no problem with that," he said.
Gates prevented access to boarding areas that people waiting for airline passengers have had in the past. The U.S. marshals were posted at all security checkpoints.
The first plane to land at BWI was Delta Air Lines Flight 1226, which arrived from Atlanta at 2:31 p.m. yesterday. A small group of passengers and crew members emerged from Gate C.
"There were no problems. I was a little bit nervous, but there were no problems," said Ken Murphy, a Pensacola, Fla., resident who came to Baltimore to visit family.
Mr. Murphy wasn't the only one admitting to a case of anxiety. But most passengers expressed faith that police and federal officials were doing what they could to ensure their safety.
"After all they're doing, what are the chances something will go wrong?" asked Julian Roberts, waiting at BWI for a flight to Birmingham, Ala. "I just want to get home."
And back to normal.


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