The weeks and months that followed were not easy ones for the sheet metal industry, or the overall American economy. A speaker scheduled to appear at one of the conferences Snips was to cover perished aboard one of the hijacked flights. Several industry events were canceled and those that were not saw staggering drops in attendance. I had been scheduled to fly Sept. 14, 2001, to Baltimore for a contractor visit, but never went.
At the time of the attacks, I had only been on a handful of work trips for Snips, but I had been on enough to notice the difference when I did attend a trade show in Las Vegas about three weeks after Sept. 11. Besides the heavily armed National Guard troops roaming the airport, the same passenger screening workers who seemed largely indifferent about their jobs on prior trips were suddenly more like Army drill sergeants. The planes themselves were at least half empty.
The situation was similar at trade shows in Chicago and Florida a few weeks later. And I quickly discovered you could call convention hotels directly and get rooms for $100 a night less than they were charging before the attacks. They were happy just to fill the space.
A lot of people were wondering if the U.S. economy or travel would ever bounce back. But it did, surprisingly quickly. And although the U.S. stock market had some record drops in the days immediately after the tragedy, it also returned to record highs before the current recession erased many of those gains.
As I prepare to start Snips busy fall convention season, I am reminded that air travel has never been quite the same, although passenger levels did eventually rebound. And most travelers eventually accepted that along with quick security checks, food in coach class and free checked baggage were never coming back.
I don’t think about all these things every day, but they do occur to me every time I fly.