airport panic

April 4, 2016

I normally don’t have serious posts – but this experience has been weighing heavily on my mind and I want to let people know about it. It’s something I will never forget… And will probably make me anxious every time I step foot in an airport from now on.

This happened on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 in the Atlanta Airport on our way to Florida.


“RUN! RUN!” Everyone yelled as the train doors opened at Atlanta’s International Airport.

We (my husband, two kids, and myself) had just finished eating breakfast bagels in Terminal D before deciding it was time to head to Terminal B, where our next flight was boarding.

We rode the escalator downstairs to the train, which we had done many times before to catch a connecting flight. The train comes every 2 minutes, so you never have to wait long.

As it pulled up, we noticed it seemed extra full and I was hoping that some people would be getting off as we got on. Little did I know, in split seconds, we went from casually waiting to get on the train to mass panic.

“RUN, RUN!” People yelled as they exited. In the state of confusion, and the look of terror in their eyes, we decided to run with them.

Carrying a baby in my arms and a backpack, and my husband carrying our toddler, a backpack, and rolling the car seat, we rushed back down the hallway and up the escalator.

“Shooter! Shooter!” We heard people call out. Not knowing what was going on, but knowing there was potentially someone with a gun, was terrifying. I’ve never felt so scared for my family in my entire life.

We got back up to Terminal D and everyone huddled around the main hub of the terminal, not sure what to do next. Is there really a shooter out there? Are there people dead? Are all the flights canceled for the day?

The terminal was an interesting sight. Some of us are in shock from the recent events, some people are still at the restaurants, ordering food and drinks, probably unaware of what just went on.

We start searching online for any news about the airport. Reports of a suspicious package, but no details.

Finally, a TSA agent comes over to the main crowd and starts telling us what he knows. There’s no shooter, no one with a gun. There was a suspicious package, and that’s what created the chaos.

Unsure of how a package could cause such a panic, we later learn more from another traveler.

He said he had just gone through security, he didn’t even have his shoes on, and a TSA agent said “You’re going to want to run… Run!”

In today’s society, there’s only a few things we would run from at an airport. And the fact that everyone seemed to come up with the conclusion that it was an active shooter, wasn’t surprising.

The scary part is knowing the intense fear and chaos we felt in those minutes where we thought we may be in the path of someone with a gun, but no one else even knows that happened.

Even if you did hear it on the news, would it shock you? We have become so accustomed to hearing about mass shootings that in some ways, it goes in one ear and out the other. Of course you think about the victims, but we’re in a society where it’s not surprising or shocking. “Oh, another shooting today…”

In our case, people thought there was a shooter coming after them but there wasn’t. I know if I hadn’t lived it, I would have thought “Well, they’re safe, so I guess it’s all ok.”

But it’s not ok. I don’t ever want to feel that fear again.

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