ATLANTA - A Turkish Airlines flight landed Tuesday night at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport just hours after an attack at the Istanbul airport.
Many aboard the flight expressed extreme emotion over the reported suicide bombing, and having left the airport prior to the attack.
"Really surreal... I feel for those people that lost their lives today," said Mia Rodriguez, who recalled walking around parts of the airport where suicide bombers later detonated explosives.
Families and loved ones surrounded the arrivals section of the International terminal, anxiously waiting peoples' arrival. Passengers said they only learned of the attacks after they landed and turned on their phones, or watched network news on in-flight television.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop for any US flights departing for Istanbul and any flights leaving Istanbul in the late afternoon, but the ground stop ended around 10:30 Tuesday evening, shortly before an outbound flight on Turkish Airlines was scheduled to leave Atlanta at 10:45 p.m.
Numerous people checking in for the departing flight told FOX 5 they were nervous about taking the trip due to fear from the attacks, or worries the flight could be diverted or canceled; some decided against leaving at all.
"I'm scared something might happen again," one passenger said.
On their website, Turkish Airlines said they would accommodate passengers who booked a flight with them through July 5 to either move or refund flights to or from Istanbul Ataturk Airport.
Airport officials are asking anyone who is flying to the region to check with their airlines before arriving at the airport. Atlanta’s airport issued the following statement regarding flights:
"We are monitoring the situation closely in Istanbul and we are in coordination with federal, state and local law enforcement. At this time, there is no reason to believe that Hartsfield-Jackson is in any imminent threat."
Atlanta Police crews said more officers were stationed outside the terminal than usual, in response to the attacks. Airport officials also said that the facility was increasing security, but could not disclose details of what was being done.
The U.S. State Department is asking Americans in Turkey to directly contact family members. U.S. citizens in Istanbul in need of emergency assistance can contact the US Consulate (90)212-3359000 or TurkeyEmergencyUSC@state.gov. For those outside of Turkey trying to contacted a loved-one who is a U.S. citizen can contact TurkeyEmergencyUSC@state.gov Or 1-888-407-4747 (from within the United States) or 202-501-4444 (from overseas).