Can tragedy keep Americans from flying?

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By Cherie Reicks

As the holiday season approaches, booking flights to visit friends or relatives is something some college students will do. Finding the best prices and choosing an airline that can accommodate your particular needs might cause some stress.

With all that to think about, another fear is very apparent since Sept. 11, 2001. On that day Americans’ faith in air safety was tested. There is no doubt Sept. 11 had a major impact on airline travel.

Since that time, airlines began to lower their rates to encourage people to fly again. New airline security and carry-on restrictions to ensure airline safety were also made. Still, even after these changes and the amount of time that has passed one has to wonder: Are people still afraid to fly?

UNO student Kathy Meader remembered the frightening impact the Sept. 11 bombings had on her. Meader’s brother had flown the same exact route of one of the hijacked planes only a day before the attacks. Her sister was also very closely involved.

Meader spent almost her entire day on Sept. 11 tracking down her sister, who lived only an hour away from the Twin Towers. Directly after these events, Meader was very nervous about flying but since that day she has made four trips by air without having any problems.

“You can’t quit living because something bad happens,” Meader says. “Travel is a part of the American life.”

Meader made an international flight to Italy during the summer. The only thing that unnerved her about that experience was the freedom.

“On my flight to Italy they actually encouraged us to get up and walk around,” she says.

The new airline security now enforced in the United States makes her feel safer than before. For Meader, the extra waits and hassles are more than worth it.

Sarah Nieves expressed a similar opinion on the safety restrictions. Nieves recently took a trip to New York to visit family. She says it took nearly three hours to get from the boarding pass area to actually boarding the plane but in her opinion, the wait was necessary.

It’s not only commercial flying that is making some uneasy. UNO sophomore Joe Boro has made only one flight since Sept. 11 of last year. Even though he flew in a private plane and not a commercial airliner, Boro expressed having his own reservations about flying in general. Unlike commercial airlines, the small plane had no immediate restrictions to follow but the thought of being in the air at all after what had happened left him uneasy.

Despite his feeling of uneasiness, Boro said: “Americans should not be scared to fly because if we let that happen, the terrorists would win — by keeping us afraid.”

While concerns are present about flying in today’s world, it doesn’t seem the fear of flying is hindering anyone’s good time. President Bush still encourages the American people to continue on with their everyday lives and that seems to be what the students of UNO are doing.

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