One member hesitated to go (on the Belize trip) because she would leave behind two sons. Not because of what would happen on an airplane. She's worried that something could happen in Richmond.

Glenn Prillaman
President, Richmond Dive Club

On September 11, 2001 terrorists struck the World Trade Center and Pentagon in attacks that wreaked immediate havoc on the travel industry. Flights were cancelled, and new, more rigorous security measures were rushed into place at airports across the country. Both of these things threatened to interfere with the RDC trip to Belize, scheduled for the following month.

September 2001
  • Glenn asks another club member to check into the TravelGuard insurance plan that the RDC always advised it's traveling members to purchase. While Glenn was chiefly interested in finding out about cancellation of the trip due to terrorist acts, TravelGuard prophetically responded that:
...a loss due to an unknown event (such as a future hurricane) would still be covered.

  • An additional concern arose from the increased airport security quickly put into place immediately following the terrorist bombings. Club members were concerned about traveling with their dive gear; would security officers confiscate their knives and other sophisticated mechanical and electrical equipment?

  • Glenn contacted Continental about the Club's upcoming trip, and his comments were recorded in the Richmond Times Dispatch.

Chip Jones
Richmond Times - Dispatch. Richmond, Va.: Sep 30, 2001. pg. E.1

This is not a good time to take sharp objects to the airport.

Glenn Prillaman, president of the Richmond Dive Club, has the daunting task of leading a 30-member group next weekend on a long- planned excursion to the Caribbean nation of Belize.

Sitting at a table covered with aquatic gear in his garage, the Chesterfield County real estate agent frowned. How would airline baggage inspectors view all the tools, tanks and odd-looking electrical gadgets that his divers carry for underwater expeditions?

Under new federal airport security rules, knives cannot be carried on board airplanes. But they still can be in checked baggage that's stowed below, Richmond airport officials confirmed last week.

Prillaman said divers need knives to cut themselves loose if they get caught in underwater fishing lines. Though he has checked the federal rules, he still has a
lingering fear about getting stopped.

Pointing at a stainless steel knife, Prillaman said, "When it gets X-rayed, I think it's going
to look very strange to security people."

The divers are dealing with tangible issues about traveling by air in the post-Sept. 11

Other travelers, though, are trying to cope with less obvious issues, from personal
reactions to the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, to the tense world situation.
These are the fears that President Bush sought to soothe Thursday with his
announcement of sweeping changes in airport security, including posting National
Guard troops.


Randy Green, public affairs manager for AAA's mid-Atlantic region in Richmond, offered
a simple solution to nervous vacationers: "If people still have trepidations about flying,
maybe they want to change their travel goals to an automotive trip."

The Great Smoky Mountains and Pennsylvania Dutch County are two nice spots for
autumn, he suggested.

But those won't cut it for the Richmond Dive Club.

By last week, Prillaman was still plugging away at his trip. Continental Airlines, as part of
its downsizing, had canceled its only nonstop flight from Richmond to Houston, a
gateway to Central America.

Undaunted, he booked a charter bus to Norfolk International Airport to arrive by 4 a.m. -
two hours early for a 6 a.m. flight.

Departure time from Richmond: 2 a.m.

What motivates people to make their trips, even if they have to leave in the middle of the

"Everybody wants to go," Prillaman explained. "We've been planning this trip for a year.
Unfortunately, we've been at the mercy of the airlines."

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Contact Chip Jones at (804) 649-6726 or

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