To be precise, Bridgette first flew solo in 2015 when she was 8 years old, but at the time, she flew as an Unaccompanied Minor status, which meant that she was cared for by an airline staff at all times. One of her greatest travel stories was from that very trip. On her return flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco, she couldn’t figure out how to work her tv screen, so she kept on pressing the the flight attendant button for help. After that, she had more questions, so she continued to press the flight attendant button. Eventually, the flight attendants decided she would be better cared for (aka: it would be easier for them, lol) if she sat in Business Class, so they asked her to pack her stuff and just like that, she was upgraded! LOL! If you decide to try this “stunt” to get upgraded on your next flight, just know that flight attendants are likely to be more forgiving to an 8 year old traveling by herself. 🙂
Okay, back to 2020. At 13 years old, Bridgette could now fly solo as an “adult”, without the Unaccompanied Minor status that required an airline staff to be with her at all times. I had planned for her to meet me in Hong Kong after my Taipei and Singapore trip, and Alan and I decided that she was mature enough to fly on her own. Besides, at this point in her life, she had probably flown the SFO-HKG direct route at least 20 times, so she knew exactly what to expect.
When they day came, Alan took her to the airport to check in with her, and then sent her off through security. She’s become so comfortable with airports that she felt right at home. She kept us in the loop by text to let us know she arrived to the gate, that she was about to board, that she asked for an upgrade but was denied (she figures it never hurts to ask, haha!), etc.
Her flight was scheduled to take off shortly before midnight just like the 20+ other times we’ve flown this route. Except this time, it didn’t. At first, Bridge just brushed it off as one of those minor delays, but when the plane continued to remain stationary for the next hour, Bridge asked the flight attendant what was going on.
Long story short, there were technical problems found with the aircraft. As Bridge kept us updated by text, she couldn’t quite tell us what the problems were and what the plans would be because the passengers were not well informed.
Finally, over 4 hours past the original departure time, the plane finally took off….except it did not fly directly to Hong Kong as planned. It got rerouted to Osaka, Japan to refuel, so by the time it finally landed in Hong Kong, the arrival time was delayed by nearly 8 hours!
The original plan was for Bridge to take the airport train to meet us at Elements for breakfast. Brianne and Brady had no idea she was going to be in Hong Kong, so it was going to be a big surprise! Because of the delay, breakfast was pushed to lunch, and then eventually to afternoon tea, lol. We arrived to the designated cafe at Elements a little early so we can make sure the kids sat without a direct view to the entrance. The plan was for Bridge to come marching in, and nonchalantly say “Sorry I’m late guys, I was caught up in Osaka.” It took Bridge longer than expected to arrive. As we were finishing up with our food, my sis and I had to keep thinking of excuses to stall. 😂
Finally, Bridge made her grand entrance, surprised the heck out of her bestie (Brianne actually cried!), and I got to give my brave girl the biggest hug ever to congratulate her for staying alive!
Of the 20+ times that Bridge and I traveled together to Hong Kong, we’ve never once had a delay for more than 30 minutes. It’s just laughable that for her first transatlantic solo flight, she would end up with a major delay AND an unexpected detour! We were so proud of how she handled the unforeseen circumstances though, by remaining incredibly calm, rolling with the punches, and keeping us well informed throughout. I had no idea what a savvy, mature traveler she had become until that day! Way to go Bridge!
What’s the lesson learned here?
Always KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. 🙌🏻