Deutsch_ScottYesterday started like many other travel days. My 4am wake-up call to catch a 6am flight. Off to the airport I go, like many other days of the year. It is a beautiful day for travel on this warm early October day. The 6am flight is on-time and I actually have an empty seat next to me, which is rare on a Southwest flight. I am heading to Atlanta for a connecting flight. Again, a typical travel day. We arrive in Atlanta early. That’s what happens when you depart at 6am and not 6pm.

Once in Atlanta, I locate the gate for my connecting flight. My next flight is on-time and I’m in the proper terminal, so no long stroll will be needed on this fine Tuesday morning. Now is when my day ends being any typical day. I look at my ticket. It’s flight #93! I did a double take and then a triple take. My brain starts going in many directions. My emotions are racing. Do I even get on the flight? For those that know me, they know that I am somewhat superstitious. I do not fly on Friday the 13th or make big decisions on that day, nor do I fly on September 11. Those are set in stone for me. And now I am about to board flight #93.

Flight #93 has great significance, since it was the flight number of the plane that on September 11th 2001 crashed into the western Pennsylvania countryside on that very sad day. I am so disappointed in Southwest Airlines (the owner of this AirTran flight). And why hasn’t the FAA retired this flight number out of respect?

I must admit that so many memories of that fateful day are running through my mind right now. It’s as if that day just happened. I was working in North Jersey then and I recall the receptionist coming into our regular Monday staff meeting at 8:45am telling us that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. No one at that time ever thought of a “jet” crashing into the buildings. It had to be one of those small prop planes. We would learn otherwise.

Airtran Flight 93 at airportMy wife and I visited the Flight 93 memorial, about an hour east of Pittsburgh a few years ago. It was in the middle of no place. This big field with its small memorial telling the story of the planes passenger bravery. One of my good friends from college, Bill Voltmer has been a big supporter of the Todd Beamer Foundation and has been helping to make sure we never forget and that we leave a lasting memory for all those innocent people. I’m proud of him for doing such fine work. I recommend you try to plan a trip to the Flight 93 memorial site. It is quite moving and they have done a fine job at educating visitors.

Oh, by the way, the plane is half empty which is very rare for any flight these days. So maybe others noticed the flight number long before I did and decided to take a different flight option.

Southwest Airlines and the FAA should be ashamed of themselves.

I think they should retire the flight 93 call number immediately. And we’ll they are at, retire the flight call numbers for the planes that struck the World Trade Center (American #11 & United #175) and the Pentagon (American #77).