********************Who knew that seven weeks could pass so quickly? It just hadn't seemed that long since Jamie had arrived home for the summer (despite the constant bickering between herself and her sister) but it seemed that all of a sudden the day had arrived for her to board a plane and join her father and stepmother at her new home in Florida.
After making sure that she had everything packed and ready to go, we went to pick my mother up to make the trip to the airport with us. While at her house I figured it might be nice to get a picture or two of Jamie and her grandmother as well as Jamie and Amanda before we headed out.
Amanda obviously wasn't up to being photographed with her sister as you can tell by her lack of enthusiasm in this picture ...
.. until I reminded her that Jamie would be leaving in a short amount of time and this was the last picture I would be taking of them together this summer. Somehow that did the trick for her though not Jamie!
Once we got Jamie checked in with Southwest it was time to make our way through security and head down to the gate but first I had her pose near the new painted Husky that the airport was displaying. Some places have painted cows - we in Connecticut have Huskys as that's the name of the sports teams for the University of Connecticut. You might have heard of them? The basketball team has won championships before ... though not recently.
Now those of you who have been regular readers of my blog know that one of the things that I have moaned and groaned about a lot when it comes to this whole flying process with Jamie has been the outrageous fees that the airlines charge for unaccompanied minors. Sometimes the fee has been higher than the actual cost of the ticket which just doesn't seem right to me. I consider that to be legitimate griping! Am I wrong??
Well now that Jamie is living near Tampa, the problem appears to be solved as Southwest Airlines (bless their low-fare hearts!) offers non-stop service between Bradley International and Tampa International so I no longer have to pay that ridiculous fee. Southwest accepts children over the age of 11 without an accompanied minor fee and they still let an adult go down to the gate with them to make sure they get on the plane as well as allow an adult to meet the plane on the receiving end. All without charging $75 to do it! I definitely ♥ Southwest!
For Jamie, though, this was the first time she had ever flown unaccompanied so she wasn't sure how she was going to handle not having someone direct her on her flight!
However she soon noticed that there was a rather cute boy who also appeared to be flying unaccompanied. Perhaps one of the candy bars that her grandmother had bought for her might entice him to help her out should she become a "damsel in distress"? Hmm ...
As it turned out, of the 49 people on her flight there were 4 other unaccompanied minors so I was sure that Jamie was going to be fine once she got to Tampa even if her father hadn't managed to get down to the gate to meet her. Apparently Tampa has got a much larger airport than Hartford does (not a surprise!) and there's some sort of tram system that gets you to baggage claim that sounded somewhat intimidating to Jamie. However, I was hopeful her Dad would meet her at the gate. Still, it made her feel better to know that there were other kids on the flight who might feel a bit lost, too. It also made me feel a little better as I watched other parents wish their children a tearful good-bye but I can't decide if I prefer "safety in numbers" or "misery loves company" on this one!
I stayed at the gate and watched Jamie's plane taxi out onto the runway before I pulled myself together and finally made my way back out through security where Amanda and my Mom were waiting. I've got to admit that the car ride home was a lot quieter with just one kid in the back but it just seemed like there was something missing and it seemed even more so when we finally got home to what felt like a much emptier house - to me at least, I don't think Amanda really noticed.
When Jamie called at 9:45 to let me know she was safely on the ground and had been met at the gate by her father I was finally able to let out the mental breath I had been holding and heave a slight sigh of relief before I went upstairs to bed - still attempting that bit of poise and rationality.