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Mickey'snewestfan
12-27-2006, 11:27 PM
My brother wants to invite my 7 year old DS up for a weekend ski trip. It would mean having him fly unaccompanied -- what are people's thoughts on this?

The flight would be about an hour and 20 minutes. I've told my brother the only way I'd consider it would be if I knew he was at the airport BEFORE I put put my son on the plane. I figure the chances of a delay or detour due to weather would be slight because of the short flight, so my brother getting stuck in traffic is probably the biggest concern.

BTW my son is not concerned at all -- he thinks this is a great idea.

ducklite
12-28-2006, 06:39 AM
As long as it's a non-stop flight, and your son has flown before, I see no problem with it.

Make sure he carries a little pocket money in case there is some sort of delay so he can get a snack, and make sure he's got both your contact info and your brothers contact info safely on his person.

Anne

DebbieB
12-28-2006, 07:26 AM
The airline would watch him and would require your brother to present ID before they would release him. Check the airline's website for rules. Here is Southwest: http://www.southwest.com/travel_center/childtip.html

cajunfan
12-29-2006, 10:10 AM
My son has flown several times as an unaccompianed minor on Southwest. With them (and I would assume most other airlines), you actually accompany them to the gate (you get a special ticket to allow you past security). They ask that you do not leave the gate area until the plane is in the air. As the previous poster mentioned, they will not release him to anyone but your brother (you have to fill out a lot of info that you will need to get from your brother...see the link provided by the other poster). My son did not mind flying like this, but he is a pretty seasoned traveler.

hope this helps!

Lynn

Lewisc
12-29-2006, 10:42 AM
I don't know how far from the airport your brother is but expecting him to be at the airport an hour and 20 minutes before the flight is scheduled to land sounds excessive and rude. My answer may be different if your brother has a history of being late or if it's a 4 hour drive to the airport. So if your brother isn't at the airport you're going to bring your son home and eat the cost of the ticket? It really doesn't sound like a credible threat.

Make sure your son has a pre-paid phone card and the cell number of your brother. If your brother doesn't have a cell I'd make sure he gets a pre-paid cell phone for the trip.



My brother wants to invite my 7 year old DS up for a weekend ski trip. It would mean having him fly unaccompanied -- what are people's thoughts on this?

The flight would be about an hour and 20 minutes. I've told my brother the only way I'd consider it would be if I knew he was at the airport BEFORE I put put my son on the plane. I figure the chances of a delay or detour due to weather would be slight because of the short flight, so my brother getting stuck in traffic is probably the biggest concern.

BTW my son is not concerned at all -- he thinks this is a great idea.

DebbieB
12-29-2006, 01:39 PM
I was flying a month or two ago and a pre-teen girl came off the plane I was getting on. I guess the people picking her up did not know they had to go to the gate to get her. They made her sit in the gate area until the people meeting her found their way to the gate (I guess they had to get a pass from the counter to go through security).

ducklite
12-29-2006, 02:10 PM
I don't know how far from the airport your brother is but expecting him to be at the airport an hour and 20 minutes before the flight is scheduled to land sounds excessive and rude.

Actually because he has to wait in the "check-ins" line to get a gate pass, and then go through security to get to the gate, it's not such a stretch for him to ahve to be at the airport 1:20 minutes before the flight is supposed to land. It's also not unheard of for a flight to land as much as 15 minutes early, so he really should arrive at the airport that early!

Anne

Lewisc
12-29-2006, 02:26 PM
Actually because he has to wait in the "check-ins" line to get a gate pass, and then go through security to get to the gate, it's not such a stretch for him to ahve to be at the airport 1:20 minutes before the flight is supposed to land. It's also not unheard of for a flight to land as much as 15 minutes early, so he really should arrive at the airport that early!

Anne

You're right, I was thinking the child was old enough to meet the brother at the other side of security.

Denver suggests allow 1.5 hours to clear security. The brother should either be in the airport or at least parking the car before the flight leaves.

I'm still not sure what the OP can do if the brother says something like I'm on the road and I'll be at the airport "in a few minutes". You'll have to decide if the lesser of two evils is to cancel the trip or explain to your son that he may have to wait a few minutes for his uncle.

I Love Pluto
12-29-2006, 09:31 PM
Am I the only one who feels this is a bad idea? He is 7, not 17. Do I feel a generation gap or something here?
:confused3

cajunfan
12-29-2006, 09:49 PM
My DS has been doing this since he was 8. But then again he is a seasoned traveler (and has been taking the flight at least once/sometimes twice a year since he was an infant). I do think that you need to take the maturity of the child into account. My then 8 year old was very mature for his age. I was totally comfortable with it, I knew what to expect, The flight was only a little over an hour, and my very dependable sister was going to pick him up.

bavaria
12-29-2006, 10:01 PM
As the previous poster said, to each their own. I have sat next to UM's as young as age 5.

I too began flying at an early age. My friend's 5 year old flies about 60,000 miles a year or more (granted, not alone, but she's a seasoned traveller)

Every child is different. An 80 minute non-stop flight is a good place to start, if the child is experienced and mature.

Mickey'snewestfan
12-30-2006, 12:25 AM
OP here.

Thanks everyone! You made me feel much better about this! To clarify a couple of things -- my brother and I have a good relationship, he basically asked me what I thought of putting my son on a plane by himself, I said "Maybe, I'd probably want you at the airport on your end before I put him on the plane" and he said "Sure, I can do that. That sounds good to me too". He's very reliable so I know if he says he'll do it, he will. I will call before I put my son on the plane just to make sure there wasn't an accident or something. So, I'm not forcing him. I do however, think it's reasonable given that it can take a long time to get through security these days, and I know my son will be relieved if he sees his uncle when he first walks out of the gate.

Yes, my son is very comfortable about this -- he's a very experienced flyer, and much more independent than I was at that age. I have a goddaughter who I'd love to have visit -- she's 11. So far she's been scared to fly here alone, and so we don't do it. There's no way I'd want to put a scared child on a plane.

Slightly OT: When researching this, I was suprised how young the "top" age for flying as an unnaccompanied minor is. Apparently 12 year olds can fly with no added security. I think if my 12 year old was flying I'd want to be able to meet him at the gate?

MariDisney
12-30-2006, 12:29 AM
Am I the only one who feels this is a bad idea? He is 7, not 17. Do I feel a generation gap or something here?
:confused3


I'm kind of with you on this one. I have friends whose children fly unaccompanied all the time. My DD is 7 and mature for her age. At this point, I wouldn't even consider it. In my mind there are too many variables with so many strangers around her. Yes, I know something bad can happen while she's in my field of vision at the local mall, but I still wouldn't let her fly unaccompanied.

Mady/Sophiemom
12-30-2006, 04:54 AM
Actually because he has to wait in the "check-ins" line to get a gate pass, and then go through security to get to the gate, it's not such a stretch for him to ahve to be at the airport 1:20 minutes before the flight is supposed to land. It's also not unheard of for a flight to land as much as 15 minutes early, so he really should arrive at the airport that early!

Anne

I agree. My mom met my girls about 4 times/ last year to pick one or both of them up. She is at or very close to the airport, at about the same time they are boarding- and by the time she gets parked, checks in for her pass to the gate, gets through security- everytime she has arrived at the gate w/ only about 10-15 minutes to spare. The flight time from BWI, to Columbus, is around 1:15.

As for the age. If he is comfortable- try not to worry- The staff is very good. Before they start boarding, they come over, and speak to the kids- let them know what is going to happen, and from what my girls (8, and 11) say, check w/ them during the flight. My 11 Y.O thinks they pay her too much attention- she wants to be grown up. My younger one thinks all the attention is great- Its all about "her".

Mine have flown together, and separate. I make sure they have some $$- and a drink, and magazine- along w/ their MP3 players or gameboys. Also let them check everything except, their backpacks

DebbieB
12-30-2006, 10:35 AM
Slightly OT: When researching this, I was suprised how young the "top" age for flying as an unnaccompanied minor is. Apparently 12 year olds can fly with no added security. I think if my 12 year old was flying I'd want to be able to meet him at the gate?

It depends on the airline. USAirways is 15 to fly alone.

I think if you had a 12 year old on SW, they would give you a gate pass to get through security.

I just remembered an incident that happened about 2 weeks ago on NW. A guy was going to fly MSP-PIT and fly back with his son PIT-MSP, I overheard him talking to the gate agent at the counter. Seemed like a good plan. The flight was delayed an hour and that plane was not the one going back to MSP, it was going to DTW from PIT. I checked the schedule when I got home, the MSP flight from PIT left before we arrived. I didn't find out what happened with the dad, I don't know if he got off the plane or if his son did not fly (we boarded about 30 min late and then sat on the plane about 30 minutes while they fixed a mechanical problem).

lost*in*cyberspace
12-30-2006, 12:32 PM
Am I the only one who feels this is a bad idea? He is 7, not 17. Do I feel a generation gap or something here?

There are so many kids this age (and even younger) flying unaccompanied that it's pretty much the norm these days. I would not hesitate to send him on this trip, especially for such a short, non-stop flight.

Mickey'snewestfan
12-30-2006, 09:07 PM
I'm not really suprised to see people saying they'd hesitate to do this, but I'm curious what the fear is -- on a crowded airplane, with a flight attendant keeping an eye/ear out, what exactly do people fear the "strangers" would do.

I can understand being afraid the plane could crash (although it could crash with me on it too) or him becoming scared. But I'm not sure I "get" the stranger fear.

Of course it helps that a few years ago a good friend of mine from work tried to pick up my son when he came off a waterslide (she thought she was helping him by "catching" him). Of course she recognized him mostly from the pictures on my desk at work, and he didn't recognize her AT ALL. He did everything right -- screaming, yelling, hitting her, saying "You aren't my mommy", while I'm at the top of the slide yelling to him that he's OK, the lifeguard is starting to jump in so I'm yelling at him too, and my friend is afraid to put him down because they're in water over his head and he's so upset. After that I'm not as worried about my son being a silent victim.

bavaria
12-30-2006, 09:11 PM
ducklite sometimes refers to children sitting without their parents on the plane as similar to taking the bus to school (albeit in threads about seating, not UM's)

Again, some people are comfortable with that, some aren't.

MariDisney
12-30-2006, 09:17 PM
I'm not really suprised to see people saying they'd hesitate to do this, but I'm curious what the fear is -- on a crowded airplane, with a flight attendant keeping an eye/ear out, what exactly do people fear the "strangers" would do.

I can understand being afraid the plane could crash (although it could crash with me on it too) or him becoming scared. But I'm not sure I "get" the stranger fear.

Of course it helps that a few years ago a good friend of mine from work tried to pick up my son when he came off a waterslide (she thought she was helping him by "catching" him). Of course she recognized him mostly from the pictures on my desk at work, and he didn't recognize her AT ALL. He did everything right -- screaming, yelling, hitting her, saying "You aren't my mommy", while I'm at the top of the slide yelling to him that he's OK, the lifeguard is starting to jump in so I'm yelling at him too, and my friend is afraid to put him down because they're in water over his head and he's so upset. After that I'm not as worried about my son being a silent victim.



For me, "keeping an eye out" just isn't quite good enough for a 7 year old. The plane has I don't know how many people on it. I would just be afraid that in a split second a sicko could do something right in the seat. Of course I think my DD would scream, but I'd rather not take the chance. I think the flight attendants have too many other duties to really focus enough for my peace of mind. I know others feel differnently and I do not think less of them. It's just a personal call.

For what it's worth, I don't let her take the school bus either.

ducklite
12-31-2006, 08:12 AM
It depends on the airline. USAirways is 15 to fly alone.

Not quite. It's 15 to fly alone without paying the unaccompanied minor fee.

Anne

ducklite
12-31-2006, 08:16 AM
For the record, younger UM's are seated in the first row aisle seat starboard side where the FA's can easily see them from the jump seat. It would be difficult for anyone to do "something" without the FA's seeing it.

Anne

DebbieB
12-31-2006, 09:47 AM
Not quite. It's 15 to fly alone without paying the unaccompanied minor fee.

Anne

You're right, I should have said it's 15 to fly unaccompanied on USAir. For 15 to 17, you can pay the fee to have them accompanied, otherwise they are treated like adult passengers.

For the record, younger UM's are seated in the first row aisle seat starboard side where the FA's can easily see them from the jump seat. It would be difficult for anyone to do "something" without the FA's seeing it.

Anne

I've seen them place UM's in the middle of the plane.

The odds of something happening are very slim. There's no place to run if the kid screams.

MariDisney
12-31-2006, 04:09 PM
For the record, younger UM's are seated in the first row aisle seat starboard side where the FA's can easily see them from the jump seat. It would be difficult for anyone to do "something" without the FA's seeing it.

Anne

Ah, I did not know this. I appreciate the information. I assumed they would be seated sort of randomly.

ducklite
12-31-2006, 04:27 PM
I've seen UM's placed in FC so the FA's could keep an eye on them.

Anne