Topic of the Week: Earthquakes

We might be used to quakes on the west coast, but the one in Virginia this week took a lot of people out there by surprise. Anyone have any good air travel stories surrounding the quake? Were you delayed or canceled? Were people unnecessarily freaking out?

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16 Comments on "Topic of the Week: Earthquakes"

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Mark Lenahan
I remember landing in Santiago, Chile a week after the earthquakes there. Airport terminal was unusable due to collapsed ceiling tiles and gantries. Airport was operating out of temporary tents. Baggage handling was a row of suitcases on the ground beside the aircraft at the bottom of the steps. Customs and immigration were folding tables in a marquee tent. The entire distance from bottom of plane steps to the taxi rank was about 100yards and the whole process took 15 minutes. The best arrival experience I’ve had in 20 years of business travel. So I was left wondering – why… Read more »
Bag Guy

After the most recent Earthquake, an inbound flight diverted due to the destination Airport’s closure and subsequent ground stop. When the flight was released, seven Passengers refused to re-board.
They were afraid to fly in case there was another Earthquake.

David SF eastbay

I still want to know how people who might have been on the east coast but were from the west coast, Japan, Indonesia, etc were reacting to how the easterns were reacting.

Anyone standing around calm would not have been local and would have had a confused look on their face as to why locals were running in fear for their lives for a 5.8.

David SF eastbay

wow I left a post and it’s not appearing and when I tried to leave it again, it said it was a duplicate post but I still don’t see it.

That happen yesterday also.

Sanjeev M

I was at home (outside DC) when the earthquake hit but no airline stories to report. I know the folks at BOS got to see an Emirates A380 which is pretty cool.

However, Sunday we’re getting weather from Hurricane Irene, so I may have a flight story for you then :)


I flew through IAD the day after the earthquake and everything seemed to be running as normal. Apart from the TVs and people talking about it, you wouldn’t be able to tell that there was one.
Maybe other airports were affected differently, but thankfully, the earthquake seemed to have not that much impact on flights and such.

I live in DC and had a flight from STL-ATL-DCA…the ONE and only time I fly from STL with a connecting flight, and the one time I take Airtran, something happens. We were on the runway for about 20 minutes and didn’t take off when the pilot says there was an earthquake near DC and we can’t take off because the airport was closed. About 45 minutes later we head back to the gate and some supervisor says there is damage to the runway (not true) and we’re cancelling this flight. I’m waiting in the terminal reading the news and… Read more »
Nick Barnard

Banding about the word lying in situations like this is not appropriate. Misinformed? Yes. But in emergency situations conflicting information can start flying around pretty quickly. The Delta folks probably got a different bit of information. The Airtran folks probably cancelled the flight based on wrong info, but if you asked them half an hour later they would’ve sent the flight on.

Passengers can’t have it both ways, either they’re going to get immediate decisions that they sometimes don’t like, or they’re going to have to wait a bit to get the right decision.

Was in the security line at DCA when it happened. None of the people in the security line really freaked out, and they started screening again 1-2 mins. after the quake itself. There were some screams and loud gasps from the ticketing level, but no one seemed too crazed. In the couple of minutes after the earthquake, there were tons of alarms going off in the airport, presumably from jet bridges that had shaken open gate doors and such, but those were turned off quickly. It was funny to watch the media. I was in the Admirals Club and watched… Read more »

Well, my office in Alexandria, VA shook…the two of us who knew earthquakes figured out very quickly what was happening, while the ones who didn’t were looking kind of bewildered. The big concern is that many buildings are very old brick construction and were not designed to roll with it as are most new buildings in more earthquake-prone zones. There was some damage, but for the most part, people just left work early, got into traffic jams (my 1.5 hour commute took over 4 hours), and made it home without too many problems.

I am from the Bay Area, and was sitting in LaGuardia eating lunch, waiting for a flight to RDU. We definitely felt it, watched the doors and fixtures rattle and sway; but it was somewhat of a “non event” in my opinion (having been through the Alaska Earthquake and at Candlestick in SF); no delays, the airport didn’t miss a beat. Interesting to listen to others in the restaurant call loved ones and tell them how bad it was, etc. Yawn……. were we really sitting next to each other? I would be much more concerned about Irene circling the area… Read more »
Consumer Mike
I think this is a good “wake-up” call for the folks esat of the Missisippi. I have visited New Madrid, Mo. which was the epa centre of the great 1812 – 13 earthquakes which were felt for hundreds of miles around. Those folks in the east have no idea how bad a major earthquake can really be. At this point it is too late to retrofit all the infrastructure (i.e. airports) to avoid major destruction or a high death toll. That’s just the reality of things. I do know that most experts are predicting a MAJOR earthquake of the New… Read more »
We were dropping off a rental car at MKE to return to DC at the moment the earthquake struck…but of course didn’t hear about it until we were walking through the terminal and saw it on TV in the bar. We received emails from friends and family along the eastern seaboard asking if we were okay (not knowing we weren’t in town) and they describing their own situations. Anyway, our Frontier flight to DCA remained “on time” up until the normal time to board, when they finally decided to delay…but we never heard the cause of the delay. It took… Read more »
I’m from Seattle, WA. I had to fly SEA-IAD a few days after the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake that measured 6.8 and blew out the glass on the control tower at SEA, temporarily shutting the airport down until a temporary control facility could be brought online. When we flew out that week (2 or 3 days after the quake), the Captain told us we could expect a very, VERY long delay waiting for takeoff due to the long lineup resulting from the temporary tower’s reduced capacity. He turned the aircraft while taxiing to show us, and I counted 18 planes in… Read more »

HI cranky! I was in El Salvador 1999 when Comalapa Airport shook. After the quake our airplane took off only to turn around because the navigation system was not working, When we landed, i noticed a huge crack on the runway or should i say thru it. Needless to say ive been there and back many times and there was no more cracks.


I was sitting on the runway at CRW (Charleston, WV) waiting to fly to Atlanta. We didn’t feel it and the pilot didn’t mention it.