!! History Commons Alert, Exciting News

8:28 a.m. September 11, 2001: Flight 11 Attendant Betty Ong Provides Seat Numbers of Two Hijackers

Betty Ong, a flight attendant on Flight 11, tells American Airlines employees on the ground the seat numbers of two hijackers who have gained unauthorized access to the cockpit of her plane. [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 6] Ong is on the phone with three members of staff at the American Airlines Southeastern Reservations Office in North Carolina, and has been describing to them the trouble on her plane. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001, pp. 38-41; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 8] She previously said she thought that two hijackers had forced their way into the cockpit, but could provide no description of them (see 8:22 a.m.-8:24 a.m. September 11, 2001). [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 3-6; American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001, pp. 69-71]
Ong Provides Hijackers' Seat Numbers - Nydia Gonzalez, one of the reservations office employees, now asks Ong: “Do you know any information as far as the gents, the men that are in the cockpit with the pilots. Were they from first class?” Ong replies that the men were in seats 2A and 2B. [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19] These seats, in the first class section of the plane, were occupied by hijackers Wail Alshehri and Waleed Alshehri. Ong would not have seen these two men, as she is at the back of the plane. [9/11 Commission, 11/19/2003 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 6] However, the reservations office employees gain the impression that she is getting information from someone else, such as another flight attendant. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001, pp. 38-41; Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001, pp. 42-44; Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001, pp. 69-71]
Gonzalez Relays Information to Airline Operations Center - Gonzalez has been passing on the information Ong provides to Craig Marquis, a manager at the American Airlines System Operations Control (SOC) center in Texas (see (8:21 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 9; Spencer, 2008, pp. 17-18] She has just told Marquis that, according to Ong, the “number five” flight attendant on Flight 11—Barbara Arestegui—has been stabbed, but “seems to be breathing,” and the “number one” flight attendant—Karen Martin—has been “stabbed pretty badly, and she’s lying down on the floor,” possibly unconscious. The other flight attendants are at the back of the plane with Ong, Gonzalez said. Gonzalez also told Marquis that the passengers in the coach section “might not be aware of what’s going on right now,” meaning they are unaware that their plane has been hijacked.
Ong Says Pilots Made No Announcements - Gonzalez now relays to Marquis the hijackers’ seat numbers that Ong provided, and adds that the two hijackers “are in the cockpit with the pilots.” She then returns to her conversation with Ong. She asks if the pilots have “made any announcements on the PA system.” [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19] Ong says there have been no announcements. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001, pp. 38-41; Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001, pp. 69-71] Gonzalez then asks if Flight 11 is “still flying erratically” (see 8:25 a.m. September 11, 2001). Ong says that “right now it’s more or less stabilized.” [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19] Later during her call with the reservations office, Ong will provide the seat number of a third hijacker on her plane (see 8:35 a.m.-8:36 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 12]

Entity Tags: Nydia Gonzalez, American Airlines, Craig Marquis, Betty Ong

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


Time period

Email Updates

Receive weekly email updates summarizing what contributors have added to the History Commons database


Developing and maintaining this site is very labor intensive. If you find it useful, please give us a hand and donate what you can.
Donate Now


If you would like to help us with this effort, please contact us. We need help with programming (Java, JDO, mysql, and xml), design, networking, and publicity. If you want to contribute information to this site, click the register link at the top of the page, and start contributing.
Contact Us

Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike