Yes, it certainly would have.
However, sitting back and stating that the situation turned out about as well it could is nothing more than Monday morning quarterbacking. We got lucky.
We had a guy steal an aircraft, and fly around a major metropolitan area stating the end result would have him dead. Suicide... along with how many others? I'm not sure it gets more "mental health crazy" than that. And no one knew how this would turn out until he was a smoking hole at 2047L. Was anyone confident at 2015L that he wasn't going to bury this airliner into the city?
I don't know who gives the order to shoot down, or if the ROE allows the pilots to make that call. And I'm not arguing it's a painful call to make. But have we not determined the triggers that will result in an engagement/shootdown 17 years after 9/11? Has this not been rehearsed time and time again? If this DID meet the triggers, then I'd like to know why a shootdown was not executed. And if this hijacking DIDN'T meet the criteria, then I'd like to hear that along with an explanation as to why. Instead, we seemed paralyzed by our fear of Jim Acosta and the news media asking questions post-shootdown.
Had this guy ended his life by plowing into Seattle's Columbia Center with a pair armed Eagles watching with their hands tied, this would be a very different day in America. Again.
One more thing to ponder: had this guy had an Arabic accent, and had he been transmitting "Allah akbar!" on the radio, would that have changed the outcome? Or would that simply bring more allegations of racial profiling in America by MSNBC?
There is a lot that is going to have to be discussed and acted on within the Air Defense leadership corps and the gov't officials that make these decisions.