This year, I was headed home to Michigan for the summer and since we're both from the same area I had emailed him letting him know my plans and just making sure he was aware that we were going to be around both of our families if he'd like to visit. I get an email back stating that he wouldn't be able to make the trip to MI, but would I be open to discussing the possibility of her flying out to HI again? I told him that I'd think about it and would get back to him.
I talked to my hubby, my parents, my friends and pretty much everyone (except my Mom, lol) said that they thought it'd be a GREAT trip for her. So I said 'yes'. But I had a lot of stipulations. Some of them silly, but being the over protective Momma, I felt entitled to them. One of them was that she was to have NO connecting flights through Atlanta. This was turning out to be quite a problem. At the time, we had her flying out of Jacksonville, NC or Wilmington and pretty much every flight from here would take her through Atlanta. After a few days of back and forth, I realized that I could have her fly out of Raleigh and I couldn't totally take advantage of the fact that my BFFF Erin now lives about an hour from the airport. The perfect excuse to go for a visit! (Not that we need one, per se...) That opened up a whole other world of possibilities for travel. She ended up flying out of Raleigh, making a connecting flight in Chicago and then it was a straight shoot into Hawaii.
The second stipulation I had was that she was to have an escort with her. Never having a child fly by themselves, this was a completely new and scary thing for me. I wanted her accountable for every moment of her flights. Her Dad arranged to have an escort from the time we checked her in to the airport, to the time she arrived in Hawaii and was handed over to her Dad. This was actually a very cool thing.
When I checked her into the airport in Raleigh, Cassie was given a type of lanyard that contained her boarding passes and stated that she was an 'unaccompanied minor'. I was also given a pass that enabled me to go through security and take her down to her gate. I got to stay with her until after she was personally boarded and then I stayed and watch her plane taxi down the runway. It was a VERY emotional goodbye for the both of us. She was crying. I was crying. The flight attendants were near tears and doing their best to assure us both that she would be well taken care of.
What we didn't know was that as an 'unaccompanied minor' Cassie didn't need to pay for anything while in flight. Now a days, you have to pay for EVERYTHING on board. From snacks to pillows and apparently this all had to be on a card as well. No cash was allowed. I sent Cassie with one of those Visa Check Cards so she would have money while in transit. But lucky her, she ended up not needing to use it in fight and I told her to use it for whatever she wanted while in Hawaii.
After she arrived in Chicago, there was an escort waiting to take her to the unaccompanied minor 'room'. Apparently this is where all the kids who fly go to wait for their connecting flight. She chilled out there for a bit, got something to eat and then was escorted via golf cart to her next flight. When she arrived in Hawaii, her Dad was at her gate (he was able to get the pass and go through security as well) waiting for her.
Her and I talked as much as possible (texted mostly, this IS my teenage daughter we're talking about). She had a great time. They did a lot of exploring. A lot of shopping and a lot of going out to eat. The tooled around the island, visiting Pearl Harbor, climbed a volcano and chilled out at the beach.
Here's some shots of her visit....
Although I'm glad she had this experience and was able to go visit her Dad, I was more than ready to have my girl home! The moment we saw each other again, we hugged and cried some more. It's amazing how much you miss someone even when they're gone for only a small while. If this is how it's going to be like when she gets older and moves out, I can only hope time passes by very slowly. I'm not ready for her to grow up so quickly.