The WAA is reflecting on how Manitobans rallied together, helping distraught passengers after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Twenty years ago, a team of airport workers pushed their own shock over the attacks to the side, helping more than 1,000 stranded travellers who unexpectedly found themselves landing at the Winnipeg International Airport.

"We are the only international airport over a pretty good area," Tyler MacAfee, Vice President of Communications for the Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA) says. "You can see there is a lot of open space in and around Winnipeg, so we would have seen a fair number of them for sure."

On that day a total of 238 planes were diverted to Canadian airports, with Winnipeg taking in 17 of them.

As airspace shut down, Winnipeg needed to open up. MacAfee was not with the airport at this time, but how Winnipeggers rallied is a well-known story within their walls.

"It was really a community response to it; everything from busses coming to take people to hotels. The WAA brought in extra resources to help people with both physical but also mental issues those challenges that people would have coping with this."

Many people of the approximately 1,500 travellers and airplane crew did not know the status of their family members and were especially worried if they were in the United States or travelling.

Taking in 17 flights was not without its challenges. People needed accommodations, food, and other essentials in Winnipeg. In one case, translators were called in to explain to the flight what happened and why they were in Winnipeg.

Airspace opened back up days later but there was no rush to fly. MacAfee says it would be one year before things began returning to normal, saying it took time before people regained their confidence in flying.

"The procedures and processes of airports changed after 9/11 as well," MacAfee says, saying the creation of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority is a direct result of this.