Flight attendant shares experience flying after 9/11

By: 
JENNA GILBERT
Staff Writer

On the morning of the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, the New Bremen New Knoxville Rotary heard from someone who instead of running away from flying, stood proudly among others who wanted to get on board as well.
Shortly after the attacks Plattner said her family told her, “well thank god that’s out of your mind now,” referring to her wanting to become a flight attendant. But they were wrong. Plattner said she walked out to state Route 29 and painted “USA” along with a military flag and the U.S. Flag.
“I couldn’t wait to be called to fly,” Plattner said. “I didn’t scare me. I already had my mind made up that that’s what I was going to do.”
Linda Plattner, a Celina native who currently resides in New Bremen, was hired by American Trans. Air (ATA) Airlines out of Indianapolis. During her time with them she served on several flights with the military delivering service men and women to their posts. At the time ATA was the No. 1 contract with the military.
During the time following 9/11, many troops were being mobilized and sent overseas, and Plattner was one member of fight crews that transported them there. She signed up to be a senior flight attendant on board L-1011-100 and L-1011-500 aircrafts. According to Plattner, these aircrafts are large to say the least. They seat 364 people, with seven bathrooms, two isles, two elevators and can land without using the engine, although she mentioned that she never had to experience that.
Those flights, she said, were some of the best experiences of her life. Just before they landed Plattner would announce to the men and women where they were.
“When we got ready to land I would say, ‘ladies and gentlemen welcome to…’ and then they knew, right then but not until then, where they were.” Plattner said. “And I was the deliverer of that location.”
Plattner also remembered during that time how they would deplane in groups. As the men and women would get off she, along with other members of the flight crew, would shake the hand of every passenger. While she was shaking their hands she remembered that she always told them, “we will come back and get you.”
That mantra — although she didn’t remember every face — stuck with some of those who were deplaning, and that proved itself after one of Plattner’s many trips with the military.
“... a young man comes on the plane and he looked at me and I put my hand out to shake his hand and and he grabbed me and he said, ‘for one year I held in my heart that you’d come back and get me,’” Plattner recalled. “And I personally did.
“Did I remember him? No, but I remember telling everyone I would come back and get them.”
That is one of Plattner’s favorite memories from her time on military aircraft.
Since leaving ATA, she doesn’t work on military flights. Now, her biggest concern is making sure people get to their vacation destinations or business trips safely. Today, she flies with PSA Airlines, which is owned by American Airlines, and says security is still a big focus for the company, but they are making a shift. Although people may hate going through all of the checkpoints, she says they are necessary because everyone has figured out how to do cause distress.
“Somebody has figured out how to take this belt and put something on it, and you’ve figured out how to take this salt shaker and put something in it, and you’ve figured out how to put liquid in something … ” Plattner explained. “We’re constantly aware of everything. When we do security on the plane we’re going to take all this sugar and creamers out and look at it. We’re going to make sure that aircraft is safe for everyone to take that flight to where they’re going.”
She went on to say all the security checks and detailed combing of everyone and everything going onboard the flight adds to a level a reassurance amongst passengers that the airlines are doing everything they can to make sure the flight is safe.
She did acknowledge that, “the bad guys can still find a way,” but having eyes and ears everywhere also helps with security.
“If you see something say something and do that,” Plattner encouraged. “It can save lives, it can save an airport.”
According to Plattner, airlines, her’s included, are starting to focus more on the customer service side of business, on top of their strict security guidelines, but Plattner insists she’s never been afraid. Not when she was taking soldiers overseas and not when she was relocated from Chicago to Oakland, California.
She talked during the meeting about how she would spend time at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum watching baseball games. A place she had to walk to because she didn’t have a car, through an area that didn’t have a good reputation.
She said she did that until others she worked with asked her how she was getting there. They were shocked to learn she was walking.
“I’m not afraid,” she was her response.

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