BOSTON -- Vaughn Allex will never forget the encounters of two of the 9/11 hijackers. He looked them in the eye that morning and asked who packed your luggage.Allex to be an American airline ticket certified dealer at Dulles international Airport ~ above Sept. 11, 2001 when two men ran right into the terminal -- showing up lost -- and also approached his counter.

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Brothers Salem and Nawaf Al-Hazmi come late that day, but with 2 full-fare, first-class passengers standing in former of him, instead of rebooking them, Allex ensured they made trip 77.Allex has actually lived v that decision because that the last 20 years."The check-in was odd. The 2 that I checked in, two brothers, one was sort of gruff and the other one was standing a couple of paces behind him. And also this sound odd, however this is what caught my attention. That was practically dancing, the was relocating from foot to foot and grinning and looking around, and my thought was, here"s someone that"s never been top top an plane and boy is this male excited," Allex freshly recalled in one interview in ~ Dulles airplane in Virginia.

"I realize the there's most likely nothing i could've excellent to prevent what happened. I've involved terms v that."Vaughn Allex, former American Airlines door agent, speaks about the guilt that feels for enabling hijackers onto flight 77 on Sept. 11, 2001. Https://t.co/qabkKxf6WD pic.twitter.com/HYj7VXTVRK

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"And I type of watched him for a couple of minutes as we went through the whole check. And also he was entirely unresponsive as much as everything we inquiry him to read, to look verbally. He just smiled and danced and also was oblivious come what to be going on," that continued. "That"s the image I have, is the two of lock standing there and also the one simply dancing, it was the oddest thing."When the pair couldn"t answer basic security check-in questions, Allex significant their ticket for additional security.There"s much more Allex has had actually to live through -- 24 hours before Allex checked-in the brothers, his longtime co-worker and close girlfriend MJ Booth asked because that advice ~ above a pilgrimage to las Vegas. She taken into consideration flying come Chicago or Dallas to attach to las Vegas, but Allex encouraged her to take trip 77 instead and also connect through Los Angeles."I said, very first of all, it"s a better flight. It"s a transcontinental flight. You obtain a meal and also a movie and it"s relaxing." Allex recalls. "She said that sound good, yet that she"d never ever written a ticket that means and we were just transitioning to digital tickets. Could I aid her? so I created her ticket from Dulles come Los Angeles with a connecting flight back to las Vegas. And also then the complying with day, I observed that she had acquired on the flight on the ticket I"d written."Allex left Dulles top top Sept. 11 grieving, but had no idea the was about to gain so much worse.
"I didn"t understand on September 11th, on the night and also the morning of September 12th, i was dealing like everybody else was with what happened with losing friends, losing passengers, losing the crew. Ns knew all of the crew on the trip deck and also I knew all of the cabin crew, I"d functioned with them because that years. What ns didn"t understand until about mid-morning (Sept. 12) once the FBI was talk to me was that those last 2 passengers that I confirm in to be actually 2 of the hijackers. I had no idea until that moment that I had actually been connected in it," Allex said.On Sept. 12, Allex to be summoned to his boss" office. There, a woman presented herself together an attorney because that American Airlines, adding "I am not your attorney."Allex recalls the chill that went through his body. That"s once he says two FBI agents to walk in, handing that a passenger manifest."I began to run my hand down the list and I observed the names of the two people I checked-in, and in that moment and also that instant, that"s as soon as I looked at him and also I said, "I go it, didn"t I?" and they said, "what did friend do?" and also I go, "these were the 2 that I put in,"" Allex said. "I think they, they knew exactly who they to be looking for, however they wanted me to involved that conclusion. And once us did, the interview strictly focused on these two individuals. And the remainder is history, the the totality transaction came back, i didn"t know all of September 11th till that minute on September 12th -- ns did not realize that I had actually checked-in 2 of the hijackers."
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Ticket agent Vaughn Allex speaks through ABC News" Gio Benitez in ~ Dulles international Airport, Aug. 24, 2021.

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Guilt tortured Allex because that years to come. Two decades later, there space still some points he"d rather not discuss."I reprimand myself, i thought, girlfriend know, if I had actually done something different, if I"d no let lock on, if I just said to the agents, this two males are late, permit them acquire the following flight. We have one at noon. It"s no large deal," Allex said.Over the years, friends and also professionals said Allex that he was just doing his job.
"That"s what they phone call me, that"s what they call me, but, what friend do, what your -- your own mind walk is, is stunner sometimes," Allex said.His mind ongoing to play games with him for years. It wouldn"t be till 2004, with the purchase of a publication that whatever turned around."The transforming point for me, I had actually been interviewed by the 9/11 Commission. And it wasn"t until the 9/11 board of directors report came out and also I to buy the book and also here is this book with hundreds and also hundreds and also hundreds that pages, and I"m on page three. I have a small paragraph and a footnote, footnote number 12."Allex defined that single footnote -- his name next to so countless others -- is what finally collection him totally free of guilt and also the feeling of obligation years after the attacks."That"s when it started to obtain better. That"s as soon as I go -- five my gosh. There were so countless other people involved, there were so countless innocent world that simply touched top top this. And I had just together a small, tiny five-minute component of it. But before that, it was -- it was terrible."Allex retired from American airline in 2008. He currently works because that TSA."I joined the room of Homeland protection working for the transport Security management and ever since I"ve been v them, it"s to be great. Ns feel prefer the occupational that they execute is so important to save everybody safe. And the reality that I have actually just together a little little component there, I"m prefer the happiest person at TSA. And I"ll tell anybody that," Allex stated with a smile.On Aug. 23, Allex walked v ABC News v the doors he saw the 2 hijackers run through that fateful morning. Together he was standing there, recalling the storage of the men responsible for starting the war in Afghanistan, Afghan refugees had actually just arrived from evacuation flights. Lock filed past the American airline ticket counter and also through the very doors the the hijackers to walk in two decades earlier -- thankful to start a new life in America.