Do, or should, American Catholics abstain from flying on September 11?

This may seem a bit of an odd question, and I’ve put it in moral theology because I couldn’t think where better to put it.

An American Catholic friend of mine had to fly from London to Chicago this week and then take a domestic flight onwards from Chicago with a small chance of still being in transit the following calendar day. She said that for this reason she had to depart from London on September 9 because “of course” she would not fly on September 11. I didn’t want to ask why, because the “of course” made it sound as though it were self-evident that somebody would abstain from flying on September 11. I haven’t really found any satisfactory explanations.

Apparently in the years immediately after 2001 people thought it was possible that there could be another attack planned for the anniversary of the original 9/11 attacks, but it now seems extremely unlikely that flying on September 11 is any more risky than flying on any other day of the year. In fact, some people argue that extra security measures on September 11 actually make it even safer for flying than other days of the year.

I also wondered whether it is considered a way of commemorating 9/11. However, everything I have read suggests that people actually actually feel that flying on September 11 is itself a way of showing defiance towards terrorism, a way of not letting the terrorists win. Apparently some airline staff actually choose to work on September 11 as a way of commemorating their fallen colleagues.

I’m just curious to know what other people here think. Perhaps if my friend mentions it again I’ll enquire politely.

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You may recall the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi was made on September 11th. The then-Secretary of State (who had been repeatedly asked for more security there) was taken by surprise.

Anyone who thinks September 11th isn’t a special date for terrorists would no doubt be astonished to see Santa Claus arrive for Christmas.


There’s nothing “customary”. Your friend just has personal reasons.


I don’t think there is a reason not to fly on Sep 11th. With that being said, personally, I tend to avoid places with large crowds on Sep 11th as a precaution because I can see “copy cats” taking advantage of that date. Now I’m also originally from the tri-state area and NYC was my backdrop growing up.


Yeah it’s fine to fly on September 11th.

Even when the attacks happened in 2001, it was a normal day on a plane for 99.99+% of people in the skies.

I wouldn’t get into a debate about it if she doesn’t want to fly.

If an individual is uncomfortable flying on 9/11 and can reasonably advance or delay traveling, that’s his prerogative and I won’t try to talk him out of it. There isn’t anything “morally correct” about not flying on that (or any other) date, nor is there anything immoral in choosing to do so.

This is a matter of personal choice, not an ethical issue.


Not really. Remember planes were grounded after the attacks.


If I remember correctly, all flights to and within the US were grounded (and what a mess that was :confounded:). Flights originating in the US but outside US airspace at the time of the attacks continued to their destinations or were diverted to other airports, depending on exactly where they were when the grounding order was issued. Flights not involving US airspace in any way operated normally.


Not so much normal, a family member was on a flight. All commercial flights were diverted to the nearest airport and required to land. People were stranded in airports all over the US. Some rented cars and drove the rest of their journey, my family member landed close enough for me to travel over and do an airport pickup and unscheduled visit at my home.

For people who abstain from flying on Sept 11th, it’s usually both

  1. a way to commemorate the day
  2. a fear of an anniversary attack

There are lots of rumors (not sure if they are substantiated or not) that one of the reasons why the terrorists picked the date Sept 11 is because 9-11 is the emergency number in the United States. The rumor is that’s why they didn’t pick Sept 10th or 12th, etc. And if that rumor is not true and it was totally con, the 9-11 rumor is almost public knowledged, so many people do fear a copycat attack on Sept 11th.

Sounds a lot like superstition to me. If I needed to fly, I would fly any day without regard to 9/11.

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Sounds like superstition or unease of a personal nature to me.

Nothing in the Catholic Faith would lead to an “of course”.

I really would have no idea.

If I had to fly today, I would fly today.
I refused to be owned by the scum who perpetuated the attack on the USA on Sept. 11, 2001.
Terrorists in this world only win when we change our way of living.


I think the date holds an almost religious significance for terrorists. I dont think a commemoration attack would be air related. But yeah, if at all possible I’d schedule around September 11th not on it. Emotionally it would hit me hard boarding a plane like those others did on that fateful day.

We have to get on with life. I know, it’s a tired refrain, but if we let the actions of a few terrorists (at least if the mainstream media 9/11 narrative is to be believed) keep us from living our lives, we’ve given them a small victory.

I treat this just like any other day. True, it was a horrible day, almost 3000 people perished. That was bad. But many more than 3000 babies will be killed today, and tomorrow, and the next day, due to surgical and pharmaceutical abortion, as well as those methods of artificial birth control that are (or can be) abortifacient. Add to that, if they have souls from the moment of conception — and they may — these souls are robbed of baptism, and thus, according to the traditional teaching of the Church, they may not be able to enter heaven, but instead go to limbo, forever deprived of the beatific vision. (I said “may”, not “will”. It’s not dogma. But it may be true.)


I’ve never been on an airplane for travel, so I don’t know what I would do but if they don’t want to fly on that date, they don’t have to. I would imagine that people like me who were still quite young at the time, (I was 13) would probably have a mental block against it

First I’ve heard of it.

Islamists don’t really have the means to carry out such attacks anymore, that’s why most of their attacks now are directed towards local regimes that work with the US, the wrong kinds of muslim (i.e. shia killing sunni and vice versa), US embassy’s or bases, or Christians.

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Sounds more like somebody who’s afraid of a copycat crime. I fly when I need to fly. If I want to remember the victims of 9-11, I can pray for them or go to Mass. No reason to avoid flying.


That’s the spirit. Stiff upper lip, keep calm and carry on etc.

My boss in 2001 and his associate were on a plane within 2 days of 9-11, they had a business trip. My husband and I went to NYC the weekend after it happened as we had pre-planned his birthday weekend there. Plenty of stuff like the Met was still open. I flew to Minneapolis near the end of that month and aside from the security line being so stupidly long I had to pull a first class upgrade to jump the line or I’d have missed my flight, it was not a problem.


I think in the future, a better home for a thread that raises questions like this one would be under ‘Catholic Living’ heading on this forum.


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