Eight years ago today at 7AM I was at Logan airport and about to board a United flight to San Francisco. I was heading out there for meetings. We boarded normally, the plane took off, and we were on our way.
A little over two hours into the flight the plane started to descend. I had been sleeping and the change in speed and sound woke me up. I looked at my watch and it was clear that we couldn't be arriving in SF. A look out the window confirmed it. The crew made no announcement – no 'put up your tray tables', no 'we're landing', no nothing.
After we'd touched down, still no announcement as to where we were or why we had landed early. We taxied to the gate and came to a stop. As soon as I heard the 'ding' I bounced up out of my seat and asked the flight attendant where we were, she said, 'I can't say anything.'
The door opened, the ground staff came on board and made the announcement that we were in Des Moines, IA. They told us that several planes had been hijacked, but didn't tell us what the outcome had been. I called back to the office and found out what had happened, what was going on.
I called Sherri (our much loved travel agent who passed away last year) and asked her to get me a car. I got the last one-way rental from Hertz at the Des Moines airport.
I grabbed the car and started driving back to Cambridge. For me, and I know for many others, everything was different.