A flight attendant takes a plane full of passengers to surprise her son on his birthday

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A Las Vegas-based flight attendant did everything she could to make sure her son flew high on his ninth birthday.

Dani Bates, 36, is a single mother whose surprise for her son, Caleb Miles, has been viewed more than a million times on Southwest Airlines’ TikTok since she shared it earlier this month. In it, Bates, a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, asks a passenger to help her reveal his birthday destination.

“Caleb thinks he’s going to California for his birthday,” Bates says at the beginning of the clip. “If I could ask all of you, on the count of three, to tell Caleb which state he’s going to today.”

In the video, passengers excitedly participate in the countdown before finally shouting to the birthday boy that he’s on a flight to… Hawaii! His mouth opens before he turns to his mother with a big smile and hugs her.

Speaking to TODAY.com, the mother and son said the revelation happened just days before his birthday on October 7.

“I was surprised when I got up there; I was like… “Why am I here?” Miles remembers. “And then I was surprised…I was so happy.”

“He made little gift bags for all the other flight attendants on the plane, walked on the plane and handed them out to all of them,” Betts explains. “And while he was handing out the goodie bags, I was kind of following them, and I was like, ‘This is his birthday trip.’”

Bates says that to Miles’ surprise, she told him they were on a trip to California. She eventually asked everyone, from the gate agent to the pilots on the plane, to help her keep the secret.

“Everyone was really excited about the staff,” she continues. “It was a great crew we worked with that day, and they made sure everything went well and smoothly.”

To keep Miles distracted from noticing any signs that would reveal his destination, Bates asked her mother and cousin to join the trip to keep an eye on him.

“I made the trip to get him out of there,” Betts explains. “It was the only way for me to be able to make it happen — financially and practically as a single mom. So I worked on the journey there.

Like many flight attendants, Bates has a busy schedule that often takes her away from her son.

“I live in Atlanta and I live in Vegas, so I have a really long commute in and out,” she says, adding that distance can take its toll. “It’s hard to be away from him and try to take advantage of that time. It’s just kind of hard sometimes. That’s why it was really important for me to do something for his birthday where we could spend some time together even if it wasn’t a long time.”

Besides working on a flight from Las Vegas to Maui to pay for the trip, Bates attended flights hopping around the Hawaiian Islands. While she was working, Miles spent time with his grandmother and cousin, and on his birthday, they all went to the beach and found a restaurant that would serve him a birthday cake.

In the end, Miles enjoyed three days of sunshine, beaches, adventure and education.

“I learned that people actually live there,” he marveled. “I didn’t know people lived in Hawaii. I also learned that Hawaii is actually made of lava.

“I was so happy that my mother planned this. I was surprised. I was so happy,” he says. “She told me that my mother cared so much about me. I already knew this, but it made me feel like she cared more about me, and I wanted to be like my mom when I grew up.

If his behavior on the plane is any indication, he’s already halfway there in terms of generosity.

“It was very nice to see how comfortable he was interacting with people without fear or hesitation, and he would say, ‘Yes, I will do that,’” she explains of his eagerness to help on board. “Even when the other flight attendant said, ‘You might not want to do this, but I’m going to take the trash,’ he was like, ‘No, he’s taking the gloves off her hands.’

This article was originally published on TODAY.com

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