|Traffic | Weather | Your account||Movies | Restaurants | Today's events|
Sea-Tac arrivals: "It was a long, long day"
Seattle Times staff reporter
It was with a mixture of relief, excitement and exhaustion that most people on Thursday's only British Airways flight to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport walked the last few steps of what had been a very long journey.
The passengers, who were among the first to fly out of Heathrow Airport in London following Thursday's terror alert, had sat on the tarmac in England for more than four hours while the U.S. government checked their passports.
The plane was half-full, with a little more than 100 passengers on board. They used the extra seats to stretch out and spent the time playing cards, reading and trying keep their kids from running pell-mell through the aisles. They'd had to turn in their cellphones at the gate, so there was no text messaging, no games, no sports updates.
Once on the ground in Seattle, they then made their way through several security checkpoints, and slogged through U.S. Customs — where passengers said they were manually searched by people and sniffed by dogs.
British foil plan to kill thousands over the Atlantic.
How to cope: Travel tips
"They took us off the plane, seven at a time, lined us up against the wall and had the dogs sniff us," said Sid Carden, who was traveling with two young children.
Luggage was checked and rechecked as many as four times, according to one travel-industry employee who didn't want to give her name.
At the baggage carousel, people waited nervously for the arrival of their loved ones, staring anxiously toward the gates, looking at their watches.
"It was a long, long day," said Tifani Hoornstra, of Bothell, who'd spent a week in London on business.
Her husband, Michael Hoornstra, had been waiting anxiously with a rose. "I didn't sleep at all last night because of all this," he said.
"It was three in the morning and I felt so mad, I wanted to write a letter to someone, saying, 'What do you have against my wife? Against all the regular people who are just trying to get somewhere?' "
Tifani Hoornstra said the lines at the airport were not as bad as they'd looked on television reports.
"Half the people on our plane canceled altogether. I thought about it," she said, "but I wanted to come home."
Another woman greeted her husband at baggage claim by telling him she'd been having panic attacks all day. When he told her he hadn't been nervous about the trip, she said, "You would have been if you were listening to the news. They made it sound scary."
James Larsen Jr., a 16-year-old University of Washington sophomore who'd been studying abroad, said he was a little nervous about getting on the plane.
"I was a little apprehensive after watching the news," he said.
His mother, J.S. Larsen of Kirkland, greeted him joyfully and then said, "I think it was harder on his mom and dad than it was on him."
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company