It’s been only three weeks since my first ever trip to New York City and three and a half months since my first time being on the East Coast by going to Washington, D.C.
Getting to both places required having to travel by air. For most of my life, air travel has often been a really big deal to me each time I fly.
I was born in Seoul, South Korea nearly 22 years ago. From what I’ve been told, I moved to the United States less than a year after I was born. As I was only a baby, I cannot remember the experience of traveling from South Korea to Los Angeles, presumably via Korean Airlines. The same went for when I went back with my biological mother a few years later and coming back months later sometime in early 1993.
Since that day in 1993, when I clearly remember my mother picking me up from the backseat of a car and handing me over to a man in a raincoat outside of the car who I later learned was my father, I never saw my mother again until 14 years later (more on that in a future post). I flew back with my father to the United States shortly after that encounter.
Since then, I hadn’t flown for many years. Years of attempts to go anywhere, within the United States or elsewhere, never got off the ground. Living with a father who was poor virtually kept any possible plans grounded. My relatives such as my aunt and uncle in Alaska have offered a chance for me to visit them but decisions like those were often vetoed by my father.
I have long desired to travel anywhere as long as I can travel by air. My first opportunity came in January 2008 when I flew with about a dozen of my fellow students from the Cal State Fullerton Guardian Scholars program to San Francisco for a digital storytelling workshop. Flying on Southwest from John Wayne Airport to Oakland Airport and back gave me my first real recollection and experience of traveling
onboard an aircraft. I naturally felt unafraid during my flight to and from as both flights experienced no major problems. Heading to San Francisco for the five-day trip was just as exciting as being able to fly again, 14 years after the last time I flew.
About 33 months later, I hopped back onboard, this time for Washington, D.C. to attend the annual PRSSA National Conference. I flew with 20 other students from Cal State Fullerton PRSSA and Biola University PRSSA via Airtran Airways to the nation’s capital for this five-day conference in
October 2010. Unlike my previous air travel experience nearly three years ago, I felt terrified for the first time aboard an aircraft during our first flight as the plane made a rocky landing upon final approach at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for our two-hour layover. I dreaded having to get on our second flight to D.C. but eventually got through it successfully once we landed there. The flights on our way back five days later went by without a hitch as we experienced no major problems during either one of the flights.
Realizing there is a potential for me to travel alone for at least once without going with others served as a major factor in deciding to travel to New York City a few months later for the first time ever. It is a city I have long dreamed of going to and it came true much sooner than I expected. I went solo by flying with Virgin America for this trip. The excellent service and amenities provided onboard made my experience a very pleasant one. With the exception of a brief turbulence over the Rocky Mountains on my way back, I once again had nothing to fear during my first time with this airline.
With San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New York City giving me my first air travel experience in recent years, I feel like I have fully matured to the point where I really understand the concept of air travel like any regular passenger would. I did not know what it felt like to travel on a plane for many years but it became a reality as I grew older.
Now that I’m really onboard with this concept, I am gearing up for more travels. In late March, I will be off to Seattle via Virgin America for the PRSSA National Assembly. In late May, I am going to Anchorage, Alaska via Alaska Airlines to visit my relatives.
The dream that once remain grounded for so many years finally takes off, soaring to new heights and venturing into new territories as I go along. Like a direct flight on any airline, it is a non-stop journey and I am not going to let anything get in my way of flying for as long as I live.