On the morning of September 11, 2001, hijacked airliners struck the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon building in Arlington, Virginia. However, there was one flight that took off that morning before the attacks occurred and due to subsequent airspace closures ended up landing far from its intended destination.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Delta Flight 15 departed from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris headed for Atlanta on the morning of 9/11. It was diverted to Gander, Canada due to the FAA closing US airspace after the terrorist attacks.

The people of Gander housed and fed the stranded passengers in an incredible display of hospitality.

The Flight Path of Delta Flight 15 on September 11, 2001

The Flight’s Original Plan and Takeoff Time

Delta Flight 15 was a scheduled flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Atlanta, Georgia, with a stopover in Portland, Maine. On the morning of September 11, 2001, the flight was scheduled to depart from Frankfurt at 8:45 a.m. local time.

Little did the passengers and crew know that this day would be unlike any other.

As the passengers boarded the aircraft, the world was unaware of the unfolding events in New York City and Washington, D.C. The flight took off on time, completely unaware of the tragic events that were about to unfold.

Delta Flight 15, a Boeing 767 aircraft, carried 153 passengers and a crew of 11. Among the passengers were business travelers, families, and individuals embarking on vacations or returning home. The atmosphere on the plane was calm and ordinary, much like any other flight.

Diverting to Canada After US Airspace Was Closed

As Delta Flight 15 made its way across the Atlantic Ocean towards the United States, the events of the day took a dramatic turn. The pilot received a message from air traffic control informing them that the airspace over the United States was closed.

With limited information available, the pilot made the decision to divert the flight to Canada. The closest airport that could accommodate the large aircraft was Gander International Airport in Newfoundland, Canada.

The passengers on board were informed of the situation and were initially unsure of what was happening. However, the crew remained calm and reassured the passengers that their safety was the top priority.

After a long and anxious journey, Delta Flight 15 landed at Gander International Airport. The passengers were greeted by the hospitality and generosity of the people of Gander, who opened their homes, schools, and community centers to provide shelter and support to the stranded passengers.

It wasn’t until several days later that the passengers were able to continue their journey back to the United States. The events of September 11, 2001, had forever changed the world, and Delta Flight 15 became a part of that history, a plane that took off before the attacks and landed far from home.

How the Town of Gander Helped the Stranded Passengers

On September 11, 2001, amidst the chaos and tragedy that unfolded in the United States, the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, became an unexpected refuge for the passengers of Delta Flight 15. This remarkable story of compassion and generosity showcased how a community came together to support and care for hundreds of stranded travelers.

Housing Hundreds of Unexpected Guests

When Delta Flight 15 was diverted to Gander due to the 9/11 attacks, the town’s population nearly doubled overnight. With limited resources and infrastructure, Gander faced the daunting task of finding accommodations for over 6,500 passengers and crew members.

Despite the challenges, the townspeople opened their hearts and homes, offering their spare rooms, schools, and community centers as temporary shelters.

The generosity of the Gander residents was truly remarkable. They not only provided a roof over the heads of the stranded passengers but also ensured their comfort and safety during their unexpected stay.

The people of Gander went above and beyond, offering warm meals, clean clothes, and a sense of community to those who found themselves far from home on that fateful day.

Donations of Food and Supplies for the Plane Passengers

As news of the diverted flights spread, the community of Gander rallied together to provide much-needed supplies and support to the stranded passengers. Local businesses, organizations, and individuals donated food, clothing, toiletries, and other essentials to ensure that everyone had what they needed during their time in Gander.

The outpouring of support was overwhelming. Restaurants prepared and delivered thousands of meals, grocery stores stocked up on supplies, and volunteers worked tirelessly to distribute donations and assist those in need.

The kindness and generosity of the people of Gander created a sense of solidarity and comfort for the stranded passengers, helping to alleviate the stress and uncertainty they were experiencing.

It is estimated that Gander residents donated over 67,000 pounds of food and supplies to the stranded passengers during their time in the town. This remarkable display of humanity and compassion serves as a testament to the power of community and the ability to come together in times of crisis.

To this day, the bond between the passengers of Delta Flight 15 and the people of Gander remains strong. The events of September 11, 2001, brought them together in a unique and profound way, reminding us of the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity for kindness even in the darkest of times.

For more information about the incredible story of Gander’s response to the stranded passengers, please visit https://www.ganderintlairport.com/9-11.

Accounts From Passengers and Crew About the Hospitality

The passengers and crew of Delta Flight 15 on September 11, 2001, have nothing but praise for the hospitality they received during their unexpected stay in Gander, Newfoundland. Despite the tragic circumstances that led to their diversion, the people of Gander went above and beyond to make them feel welcome and cared for.

Praise for the People of Gander

The passengers and crew were deeply touched by the kindness and generosity of the people of Gander. They were greeted with open arms and warm smiles, and were immediately made to feel like part of the community.

The locals opened their homes, schools, and community centers to accommodate the stranded passengers, providing them with food, shelter, and emotional support.

The residents of Gander not only provided for the basic needs of the passengers, but they also went out of their way to ensure their comfort and well-being. They organized entertainment, including live music and performances, to keep spirits high during the difficult time.

The passengers and crew were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from the people of Gander.

One passenger, John, expressed his gratitude, saying, “The people of Gander showed us what true hospitality looks like. They treated us like family and made us feel safe and cared for. We will be forever grateful for their kindness.”

Lasting Friendships Formed During the Stay

During their time in Gander, many passengers and crew members formed lasting friendships with the locals. The unexpected circumstances brought people together, fostering a sense of camaraderie and solidarity.

Bonds were formed over shared experiences and the support they received from the people of Gander.

Years later, these friendships continue to thrive. Passengers and crew members have kept in touch with the locals they met during their time in Gander, visiting each other’s homes and maintaining strong relationships.

The ordeal of September 11, 2001, may have been tragic, but it also brought people together and forged lifelong connections.

The hospitality shown by the people of Gander to the passengers and crew of Delta Flight 15 on September 11, 2001, serves as a testament to the kindness and compassion that can arise in the face of adversity. It is a story that continues to inspire and remind us of the power of human connection.

The Legacy of Delta Flight 15 and Gander After 9/11

Delta Flight 15 on September 11, 2001, holds a significant place in history. As one of the few planes that took off before the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center, this flight found itself in a unique situation.

Unable to return to its original destination, the plane and its passengers were diverted to the small town of Gander, Newfoundland.

Grants and Memorials Honoring the Townspeople

The people of Gander opened their hearts and homes to the stranded passengers of Delta Flight 15, providing them with food, shelter, and comfort during their unexpected stay. In recognition of their kindness and compassion, various grants and memorials have been established to honor the townspeople.

One such grant is the Gander International Airport Authority Scholarship, which supports local students pursuing post-secondary education. The scholarship serves as a testament to the lasting impact of the Gander community’s generosity on the lives of those who experienced their hospitality firsthand.

Additionally, the Gander and Area Chamber of Commerce established the Gander Volunteer of the Year Award. This award recognizes individuals who continue to embody the spirit of compassion and selflessness that was demonstrated during the aftermath of 9/11.

Story of Compassion Inspires Musical Come From Away

The incredible story of Delta Flight 15 and the people of Gander has inspired many forms of artistic expression, including the hit musical Come From Away. The musical, written by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, tells the story of the events that unfolded in Gander during the aftermath of 9/11 and the impact it had on both the passengers and the locals.

Come From Away premiered on Broadway in 2017 and has received critical acclaim for its powerful storytelling and heartfelt performances. The musical not only highlights the resilience of the human spirit but also serves as a reminder of the kindness and compassion that can emerge even in the darkest of times.

To this day, the legacy of Delta Flight 15 and the people of Gander continues to resonate with people around the world. Their acts of kindness and compassion serve as a reminder of the power of community and the strength of the human spirit in times of adversity.


The tale of Delta Flight 15 and the town of Gander on September 11, 2001 provides an uplifting story amid the tragedy and chaos of that day. The compassion shown by the residents of Gander towards the stranded passengers and crew has inspired countless retellings of the story in books, films, and even a Broadway musical.

As we reflect on the events of 9/11 each year, we can remember the humanity displayed in Gander as an example of generosity and community.

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