Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Girl Flies Solo

This morning, the girl and I got up around 2:30am and we headed to the Charlotte airport for her first solo round-trip flight to visit her good friend and family back in SoCal. She didn't want to do the Unaccompanied Minor (UM) process where she is accompanied by airline personnel from flight to flight and I was glad not to pay the $100 (EACH WAY!) fee for it.  So we agreed that she would fly alone.  We were limited to two airlines, United and American, that had the lowest age (12) to fly solo without mandating the UM process and their fares weren't much more than other airlines--definitely saved more not paying the UM fee.

Of course, I was concerned about things like her not losing her passport, money, phone, and boarding passes. And then I was concerned that she didn't miss the connecting flight (though she seemed to do fine on her return flight from Peoria that connected through Chicago-O'Hare). And then I was irrationally worried that all connecting flights to her final destination would get cancelled and she'd be stranded at an airport near no friends or family. Where did I get that fear? A waitress once shared that this happened to her when she was snowed in a freak storm in Atlanta when she was 16 and had to spend the night sleeping in the airport. Ugh--my nightmare especially since the girl is only 12. But hopefully, there'd be minimal chance of cancelled flights since it's the hot summer, right?

I walked with her in the security line and said goodbye when only folks with boarding passes continue on:

In hindsight, I think I should have schooled her more about being more efficient at the security screening as I saw her fishing out her chapstick and taking off her bracelet and necklace while at the screener conveyor belt (rather than doing this while in line) but she did it pretty quickly before the folks behind her got irritated.

Side note: I have a tutorial on writing/drawing on a pic using the free (currently) app Sketchbook MobileX on my craft blog.

And then for me, I didn't want to waste an 85 mile drive to the Queen City so I found a Starbucks that opened at 5:30am to work at until the Costco opened at 10.  Unfortunately, my aircard kept going in and out here so it wasn't as productive as I  hoped.  Though I have to say the few hours of sleep I had didn't make for the best thinking anyway.

Unfortunately, the girl texted me pretty much soon after I left the airport that her flight was delayed due to maintenance and they eventually took off 40 minutes late.  We were both worried about her making the connecting flight.  Fortunately she texted me from the Houston airport that she "literally--LITERALLY" just made her connecting flight.  I just imagined my girl running around between terminals and on the Houston TerminaLink with that wheeled carry-on flying.  Probably not the most ideal way to do her first solo flight.  Then she texted me over an hour later that they hadn't left the runway--maintenance issues.  I texted back "Welcome to the world of travel."  Finally after nearly 2 hours, her flight departed.

She eventually happily texted that she had landed (about two hours past schedule) and had already contacted her friend:

I'm glad she retained her humor through her long hours (12 hours door to door) of travel.


Pound said...

i'm so exciting for her! her 1st alone travel! at least she made it all thru ok. i don't know if i'd be a wreck or what. so what did you get at costco?

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Kwun said...

Ha! Native Korean speakers speaking English sometimes make errors like that without autocorrect. I can't remember if the story is that conjugation in Korean doesn't distinguish between "-ed and -ing" in verbs, or whether it's just that conjugation in a foreign language is often hard.