Ong’s name is located on Panel N-74 of the National September 11 Memorial’s North Pool, along with those of other passengers of
|Born||Betty Ann Ong
February 5, 1956
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Died||September 11, 2001
North Tower, World Trade Center
New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of death
Betty Ann Ong (traditional Chinese: 鄧月薇; simplified Chinese: 邓月薇; February 5, 1956 – September 11, 2001) was an American flight attendant onboard American Airlines Flight 11 when it was hijacked and flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, as part of the September 11 attacks.
Ong was born on February 5, 1956 in San Francisco to Harry Ong, Sr., and Yee-gum Ong. She grew up in San Francisco's Chinatown and graduated from George Washington High School. Her family owned a grocery store on Jackson Street. Ong was the youngest of her surviving siblings: sisters, Cathie Ong Herrera, Gloria Ong Woo and brother Harry Ong. Ong began her career as a flight attendant in 1987 and was later promoted to the position of a purser (a head flight attendant).
At the time of her death, Ong lived in Andover, Massachusetts. On September 11, 2001, Ong assigned herself to Flight 11, so she could return to Los Angeles and go on vacation to Hawaii with her sister. During the hijacking, she used a telephone card to call in to American Airlines' operations/Raleigh reservations center, from the plane's rear galley; identified herself and alerted the supervisor that the aircraft had been hijacked. Along with fellow flight attendant Amy Sweeney, she relayed a report of the seat numbers of three hijackers. During her Airfone call, she reported that none of the crew could contact the cockpit nor open its door; a passenger (Daniel M. Lewin) and two (unnamed, cockpit key-carrying) flight attendants had been stabbed and thought that someone had sprayed Mace or something else in the business class cabin. Which (along with the first class cabin) subsequently had to be vacated, by most of the passengers and crew.
On September 21, 2001, some 200 members of the Chinese American community in San Francisco gathered in a small park to pay tribute to Ong. Mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown, who was present, gave a proclamation honoring the people who died in the tragedy and called September 21 "Betty Ong Day".
Ong is also memorialized on Gold Mountain, a mural dedicated to Chinese contributions to American history on Romolo Place in North Beach, a street where she used to skateboard and play as a child, and a foundation named in her honor. In 2011, the recreation center in San Francisco's Chinatown where she had played as a child was renamed in her honor.
An extensive clip from Ong's call to headquarters was used at the very beginning of the film 2012 Zero Dark Thirty. The clip was used without attribution, and without the consent of Ong's family. Her family requested that Warner Brothers, the film's U.S. distributors, make a charitable donation in Ong's name, include a credit to Ong and a statement on its website and in home entertainment versions of the film that the Ong family does not endorse the use of torture (which the film depicts being used in the hunt for Osama bin Laden), and acknowledge these things during the 85th Academy Awards ceremony.
Betty Ong's phone call
The following is an 8 minute and 26 second transcript of the conversation between: Ong, American Airlines' operations/Raleigh reservations, Nydia Gonzalez (Operations Specialist on duty on September 11), and American Airlines' emergency line. It begins with Ong in mid-sentence, her voice was audible during only its first 4 minutes,  and her phone call disconnected 37 seconds before the North Tower crash (Sweeney's: 03).
Betty Ong: Um, we're sitting in the back, um, and the cockpit is not answering. Somebody is stabbed in business class-and um, I think there's mace-that we can't breathe-I don't know I think we're getting hijacked.
A.A. Oper. Center: Which flight are you on?
Betty Ong(?): FLIGHT 12
A.A. Oper. Center: And what seat are you in?
A.A. Oper. Center: Ma'am, are you there?
Betty Ong(?): Yes.
A.A. Oper. Center: What, what, what seat are you in?
A.A. Oper. Center: Ma'am, what seat are you in?
Betty Ong: Well, we just left Boston, we're up in the air. We're supposed to go to L.A., and the cockpit's not answering their phone.
A.A. Oper. Center: What seat are you sitting in? What's the number of your seat?
Betty Ong: Okay, I'm in my jump-seat right now.
A.A. Oper. Center: Okay.
Betty Ong: At 3R.
A.A. Oper. Center: Okay, you're the flight attendant?
A.A. Oper. Center: I'm sorry, did you say you're the flight attendant?
Betty Ong: Hello? You're gonna have to speak up. I can't hear you.
A.A. Oper. Center: Sure, WHAT-IS-YOUR-NAME?
Betty Ong: Okay, my name is Betty Ong, I'm #3 on Flight 11.
A.A. Oper. Center: Okay.
Betty Ong: And the cockpit is not answering their phone, and there's somebody stabbed in business class, and there's, we can't breathe in business class. Somebody's got mace, or something.
A.A. Oper. Center: Can you describe the person that you said, somebody is what in business class?
Betty Ong: I'm, I'm sitting in the back somebody's coming back from business, can you hold on for one second? They're coming back.
A.A. Oper. Center: Sure.
(Ong is heard consulting a: mysterious, American-accented, female, aboard American 11.)
Betty Ong: They want to know who stabbed who. Do you know?
Mystery woman: I don't know, but Karen and - BOBBI got stabbed (Karen Martin was the first class flight attendant allegedly stabbed and Barbara "Bobbi" Arestegui the number 5. Both carried keys to the plane's cockpit).
Betty Ong: Okay.
(Ong returns to conversation with A.A. Operations Center)
Betty Ong: Our, our #1 is, got stabbed, uh, our purser is stabbed. Um, nobody knows who stabbed who, and we can't even get up to business class right now because nobody can breathe. Uh, our #1 is, is, is, stabbed right now. And, and our #5 is stabbed. Our first class passengers are, uh, first class galley flight attendant and our purser have been stabbed. And we can't get to the cockpit... the, the door won't open.
Betty Ong: Hello?
A.A. Oper. Center: Yeah, I'm taking it down, all the information. We're also, um, you know of course, recording, the, um, at this point in time.
Nydia Gonzalez: This is operations, what flight number are we talking about?
A.A. Oper. Center: Flight 12.
Nydia Gonzalez: Flight 12, okay.
Betty Ong: No, we're on Flight 11 right now. This is Flight 11.
A.A. Oper. Center: It's Flight 11. I'm sorry, Nydia.
Betty Ong: Boston to Los Angeles.
A.A. Oper. Center: Yes.
Betty Ong: Our #1 has been stabbed, and our #5 has been stabbed.
(Ong is heard talking to another flight attendant aboard American 11)
Betty: Can anybody get up to the cockpit? Can anybody get up to the cockpit?
Flight Attendant: No, we can't.
(Ong returns to conversation with A.A. Operations Center and Nydia Gonzalez)
Betty Ong: Okay, we can't even get up to the cockpit, we don't know who's up there.
A.A. Oper. Center: Well, if they were shrewd, they would keep the door closed and...
(Ong doesn't hear this last comment)
Betty Ong: I'm sorry?
A.A. Oper. Center: Would they not maintain a sterile cockpit?
Betty Ong: I think the guys are up there, they might have gone there or jammed their way up there, or, or something. Nobody can call the cockpit, we can't even get inside.
Betty Ong: Is anybody still there?
A.A. Oper. Center: Yes, we're still here.
Betty Ong: Okay, I'm staying on the line as well.
A.A. Oper. Center: Okay.
Nydia Gonzalez: Hi, who is this calling reservations? Is this one of the flight attendants? Who are you, hun?
A.A. Oper. Center: She gave her name as Betty Ong.
Nydia Gonzalez: Betty?
Betty Ong: Yeah, I'm #3. I'm #3 on this flight, and we're first...
Nydia Gonzalez: You're the #3 on this flight?
Betty Ong: Yes, and I have...
Nydia Gonzalez: And this is Flight 11? From where to where?
Betty Ong: Flight 11.
Nydia Gonzalez: Have you guys called anyone else?
Betty Ong: No. Uh, somebody's calling medical, and we can't get a doctor ...
(American Airlines Emergency Line (identified as A.A. Em. Line) joins the call and talks to Gonzalez)
A.A. Em. Line: American Airlines Emergency Line, please state your emergency.
Nydia Gonzalez: Hey, this is Nydia at American Airlines calling. I am monitoring a call in which Flight 11. The flight attendant is advising our reps that the pilot, everyone has been stabbed.
A.A. Em. Line: Flight 11?
Nydia Gonzalez: Yeah, they can't get into the cockpit. That's what I'm hearing.
A.A. Em. Line: Okay, who is this I'm talking to?
Nydia Gonzalez: Excuse me, this is Nydia at American Airlines Raleigh Reservations Center. I'm the operations specialist on duty.
A.A. Em. Line: Okay, I'm sorry what is your name, again?
Nydia Gonzalez: Nydia Gonzalez, G-O-N-Z-A-L-E-Z.
A.A. Em. Line: Raleigh Reservations. Okay, now when you...
Nydia Gonzalez: I've got the flight attendant on the line, with one of our agents.
A.A. Em. Line: Okay, and she's calling how?
Nydia Gonzalez: Through reservations, I can go on the line and ask her questions.
A.A. Em. Line: Okay, and I'm assuming they've declared an emergency. Let me get ATC on the line, stand by.
Nydia Gonzalez: Have you been contacted by the cockpit yet? No, okay. Okay, I'm still on with security, Betty, okay? Okay. You, you're doing a great job, Betty, just stay calm. We are, absolutely.
A.A. Em. Line: Okay, we're contacting the flight crew now, we're also contacting ATC.
Nydia Gonzalez: Okay, it seems like the passengers in coach might not be aware of what's going on right now.
A.A. Em. Line: These two passengers, were they from first class?
Nydia Gonzalez: Uh, okay. Hold on.
Nydia Gonzalez: Hey, Betty, do you know any information as far as the gents, the men that are in the cockpit with the pilots, were they from first class?
Nydia Gonzalez: They were sitting in 2A and B.
A.A. Em. Line: Okay.
Nydia Gonzalez: They are in the cockpit with the pilots.
A.A. Em. Line: Who's helping them? Is there a doctor on board?
Nydia Gonzalez: Is there a doctor on board that's assisting you guys? You don't have any doctors on board. Okay. So, you've gotten all the first class passengers out of first class?
A.A. Em. Line: Have the flight attendants taken everyone out of first class?
Nydia Gonzalez: Yeah, she's just saying that they have. They're in coach. What's going on, honey?
Okay, the aircraft is erratic again. Flying very erratically.
Nydia Gonzalez: She did say all the first class passengers have been moved back to coach, so first class, the cabin is empty. What's going on on your end?
A.A. Em. Line: Uh, we contacted ATC, they are going to handle this as a confirmed hijacking. So they're moving all the traffic out of this aircraft's way.
A.A. Em. Line: Okay.
A.A. Em. Line: Uh, he turned his transponder off, so we don't have a definitive altitude for him. We're just going by, they seem to think that they have him on a primary radar. They seem to think he is descending.
Nydia Gonzalez: Okay.
A.A. Em. Line: Okay, Nydia?
Nydia Gonzalez: Yes, dear, I'm here.
A.A. Em. Line: I have a dispatcher currently taking the amount of fuel on board.
Nydia Gonzalez: Uh, huh.
A.A. Em. Line: And, we're gonna run some profiles, to see exactly what his endurance is.
Nydia Gonzalez: Okay.
A.A. Em. Line: Did she?
Nydia Gonzalez: She doesn't have any idea who the stabbed passenger might be in first. Apparently, they might have spread something, so they're having a hard time breathing or getting in that area.
Nydia Gonzalez: What's going on, Betty? Betty, talk to me. Betty, are you there? Betty? What? Do you think we lost her? Okay, so, we'll like keep the line open. We— I think we might have lost her.
A.A. Em. Line: Okay.
(Plane struck World Trade Center)
- "Betty Ong: Unsung Hero of Sept. 11". National Public Radio. September 10, 2004. Retrieved 2009-12-06. "Betty Ong, a Chinese-American flight attendant for American Airlines, may have saved untold numbers of lives by telling emergency personnel on the ground what was happening aboard flight 11 on Sept. 11, 2001. Her call led to air traffic controllers landing every plane flying over U.S. airspace. ..."
- "North Pool: Panel N-74 - Betty Ann Ong". National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Retrieved October 29, 2011.
- Richard Sisk & Monique el-Faizy (July 24, 2004). "Ex-Israeli commando tried to halt unfolding hijacking". NY Daily News.
- "Betty Ong's Call from 9/11 Flight 11". 9/11 Commission. Retrieved 2009-12-06.
- "9/11 commission hears flight attendant's phone call". CNN. January 27, 2004. Retrieved 2009-12-06. "'The cockpit's not answering,' flight attendant Betty Ong said. 'Somebody's stabbed in business class, and, um, I think there's Mace that we can't breathe. I don't know; I think we are getting hijacked.' Ong, 45, was on board American Airlines Flight 11, the Boeing 767 en route from Boston, Massachusetts, to Los Angeles, California, that was flown into the north tower of the World Trade Center."
- Nancy Pelosi (September 22, 2004). "In Recognition of the Heroism of Betty Ong". United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 2009-12-06. "Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Betty Ong, a native daughter of San Francisco's Chinatown and a hero for our Nation on September 11, 2001. ..."
- Jim Herron Zamora (2007-09-12). "S.F. mural depicting 9/11 flight attendant scarred by taggers". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
- "The 9/11 Tapes: The Story in the Air". The New York Times. September 7, 2011.
- "Betty Ann Ong: 9/11 hero gets lasting tribute". San Francisco Chronicle. October 21, 2011.
- Cieply, Michael (2013-02-23). "9-11 victim's family raises objection to Zero Dark Thirty". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2013-02-24. "The Ong family is also asking that the filmmakers donate to a charitable foundation that was set up in Ms. Ong’s name. Further, they want Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is distributing “Zero Dark Thirty” in the United States, to include a credit for Ms. Ong and a statement on both its Web site and on home entertainment versions of the film making clear that the Ong family does not endorse torture, which is depicted in the film, an account of the search for Osama bin Laden."
- "The 9/11 Tapes: The Story in the Air". The New York Times Company. September 7, 2011. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
- "Transcript of Flight Attendant Betty Ong". Gale Global Issues. Reprinted from Terrorism: Essential Primary Sources by K. Lee Lerner (2006).Retrieved September 9, 2013.
- As with an anonymous, claimed flight attendant, who called from the same plane; Ong purportedly claimed her presence on both (American Airlines') Flights: 11 and 12.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Betty Ong.|
- "Final 8 Minutes Of Phone Call From Flight 11 On 9/11 ". YouTube. June 23, 2007
- The Betty Ong Foundation
- "DL-336 Case #265D-NY-280350". Federal Bureau of Investigation. September 12, 2001.
- Ahlers, Mike M. (January 28, 2004). "9/11 commission hears flight attendant's phone call". CNN.
- Lim, Ji Hyun (September 28, 2001). "WTC Attack Hero, Chinatown Daughter Honored". AsianWeek.
- Hall Mimi (January 27, 2004). "Voice from 9/11 describes terror aboard hijacked jet". USA Today
- Reisman, Will (July 8, 2012). "Rec center rebuilt in center of Chinatown". The San Francisco Examiner