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Old 10-06-2012, 06:55 PM   #1
descovy
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Nervous about letting my kids fly unaccompanied

What I love about this forum is the different perspectives, which I think I need in this case. I am (in my circle of friends) an easy going, relaxed parent about what my kids can do in terms of staying home alone, riding bikes, etc.

However I am very nervous about my Father in Law's request to let them fly Unaccompanied to visit him.

The girls will be 13, 11, almost 9 (next summer) There are no nonstop flights between Houston TX and Spokane WA, so a layover is unavoidable. The trip essentially is all day... 2-3hrs to layover (usually SLC, or Denver) layover time 1-2 hrs & another 2-3hrs to Spokane.

Of course, my FIL feels that just because they "can" that I should allow it. I'm sorry but I'm not there yet

For example, I let my kids stay in the house alone (doors locked, no cooking) for up to 3 hrs. I can call them/they call me if ever a question or a squabble. I wouldn't allow them to stay home for an 8 hr workday, yet I am supposed to allow them to roam 3 airports and 2 airplanes in a 8 hour day.

(That too is assuming everything goes perfectly!... no delays, missed connections, etc.)

I get that there is an attendant that meets them and gets them off/on the airplane. However this is just a stranger (who I don't get to meet) just doing their job. I send my kids off to camp on the church bus, but I at least get to meet the driver!

And lets not forget, they are sisters. They are usually well behaved, but they will squabble. One will get annoyed, one will borrow something without asking, one will accidentally knock elbows in the seat so the other will retaliate. Who is going to tell them to knock it off!? I don't think I'd want to sit next to 3 squabbling tired, cramped annoyed kids as a passenger. Again, I would expect them to squabble if I left them at home all day with 2000 sq ft to roam around. I can't imagine an airport seat.

And I'd just be a big ol puddle of nerves all day long. I don't think I'd be able to think straight or function knowing that my kids are going to fly 2000 miles away and spend some of that time in a city in between.

Someone tell me if I am too paranoid! I let my kids ride bikes to school, order food at Subway while I wait in the car, stay home for 3 hours in the morning when I work and they have the day off school. I send them off to summer camp as young as age 7. I don't view myself as a scared, paranoid mom, but I cannot bring myself to allow this.

DH and FIL think I'm crazy, and that kids do this all the time. What's up?
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:01 PM   #2
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I've heard too many horror stories about snafus with connecting flights. The only way DD would fly unacccompanied is on a nonstop flight.
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:05 PM   #3
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For peace of mind, why dont you fly with the children to the Father in Laws house, stay a few days then fly home. Then have the Father in Law fly with the kids home for a few days visit.
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Old 10-07-2012, 09:00 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KerriSue View Post
For peace of mind, why dont you fly with the children to the Father in Laws house, stay a few days then fly home. Then have the Father in Law fly with the kids home for a few days visit.
This would be my suggestion as well. If they were my children, and it was a non-stop flight I would probably agree to let them go. That way I would be putting them on the plane and their grandfather would be meeting them at the other end. But. With a layover? Nope, I wouldn't let them go alone.
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Old 10-07-2012, 07:56 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by EMom View Post
I've heard too many horror stories about snafus with connecting flights. The only way DD would fly unacccompanied is on a nonstop flight.
I have to agree. My son is flying for the first time alone in a few months....he has a non stop flight and he is in college! I would be worried about many things, but one would be missing the connecting flight.
Why not have your father in law come to you and do things with your daughters at your house?
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:02 PM   #6
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I think this one is tough.I think I would be more inclined if it were just the older two, but 8 is young to be without a parent all day and essentially make the other two responsible for her. I don't think I would agree to it either. If your kids are regular fliers, that might sway me some.
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:09 PM   #7
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Eh, my kids wouldn't be making that trip by themselves at those ages, especially with lay overs. I'm all for fostering independence but this seems a bit much.
I don't understand why your FIL can't come to see them, or the whole family can't make a visit to see him?
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:06 PM   #8
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I flew as an unaccompanied minor the day after my 5th birthday (trip was delayed by a week until that day, because I had to be 5). First time I flew alone, not as an unaccompanied minor was the day after my 12th birthday (12 being the age at which I was allowed to do so). A number of those flights did include connections and I never had any issues - actually I loved it.

HOWEVER...

1) I was a seasoned flyer;
2) I loved flying and loved flying as an UM (or solo);
3) My parents weren't "puddles" while I was traveling.

Also, I know that some airlines no longer allow UMs to fly on anything but non-stop flights.

So, while I had no problem with it (and would have no problem with my child flying as an UM), none of that really matters if *you* are going to be a basket case because of it.
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:07 PM   #9
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First they will only be in 1 airport alone! and they won't be alone because I'm assuming you will have them fly unaccompanied minors. because you will be at the first airport and their Grandfather will be at the other so already that sounds better! Kids always get along better when the parent isn't there and they are expected to out in public.

My kids have both flown alone and much earlier than yours. My DD flew by herself from first grade on. My DS has flown alone to but he was a tiny bit older, having an older sis meant she was usually there.

Once they reached 12 or 13 whatever the airline allowed they never flew as an unaccompanied minor they just flew by them selves.

My nephew always flew out to see me or down to Florida to go to Disney with us by himself from early elementary. Again before cell phones.

I would let them without even thinking about it. And you have the benefit of having an older child going. And there are cell phones now when my DD flew in first grade no one had cell phones. I mean having a 13 yr old is like sending a babysitter with the younger one. By 14 my DD was watching kids all day in the summer.

They will love the adventure and remember it all their lives.
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by descovy View Post
What I love about this forum is the different perspectives, which I think I need in this case. I am (in my circle of friends) an easy going, relaxed parent about what my kids can do in terms of staying home alone, riding bikes, etc.

However I am very nervous about my Father in Law's request to let them fly Unaccompanied to visit him.

The girls will be 13, 11, almost 9 (next summer) There are no nonstop flights between Houston TX and Spokane WA, so a layover is unavoidable. The trip essentially is all day... 2-3hrs to layover (usually SLC, or Denver) layover time 1-2 hrs & another 2-3hrs to Spokane.

Of course, my FIL feels that just because they "can" that I should allow it. I'm sorry but I'm not there yet

For example, I let my kids stay in the house alone (doors locked, no cooking) for up to 3 hrs. I can call them/they call me if ever a question or a squabble. I wouldn't allow them to stay home for an 8 hr workday, yet I am supposed to allow them to roam 3 airports and 2 airplanes in a 8 hour day.

(That too is assuming everything goes perfectly!... no delays, missed connections, etc.)

I get that there is an attendant that meets them and gets them off/on the airplane. However this is just a stranger (who I don't get to meet) just doing their job. I send my kids off to camp on the church bus, but I at least get to meet the driver!

And lets not forget, they are sisters. They are usually well behaved, but they will squabble. One will get annoyed, one will borrow something without asking, one will accidentally knock elbows in the seat so the other will retaliate. Who is going to tell them to knock it off!? I don't think I'd want to sit next to 3 squabbling tired, cramped annoyed kids as a passenger. Again, I would expect them to squabble if I left them at home all day with 2000 sq ft to roam around. I can't imagine an airport seat.

And I'd just be a big ol puddle of nerves all day long. I don't think I'd be able to think straight or function knowing that my kids are going to fly 2000 miles away and spend some of that time in a city in between.

Someone tell me if I am too paranoid! I let my kids ride bikes to school, order food at Subway while I wait in the car, stay home for 3 hours in the morning when I work and they have the day off school. I send them off to summer camp as young as age 7. I don't view myself as a scared, paranoid mom, but I cannot bring myself to allow this.

DH and FIL think I'm crazy, and that kids do this all the time. What's up?
I'm with you. No way would I allow my kids to fly alone at that age.

Of course, you'll get the obligatory "my child flew around the world alone at 2 years old and was absolutely fine" posts.

All that matters is you aren't comfortable with them flying alone. For me, another solution would have to be put forward or they wouldn't go.
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:17 PM   #11
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You know, you might find it's not even possible for them to fly alone, if there are no nonstop flights. Last time I checked to fly my niece who was 12, it was nonstop or nothing. They don't want the hassle of having to deal with connections and unaccompanied minors.
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:27 PM   #12
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I don't have any problem with kids flying alone. My daughter has done it since she was 7. However, I am not sure I would want my 13 y/o in charge of my almost (but not even) 9 y/o in an airport, with a layover, if they aren't experienced flyers. I wouldn't think twice about sending the 13 & 11 y/o, though.
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LisaR View Post
I don't have any problem with kids flying alone. My daughter has done it since she was 7. However, I am not sure I would want my 13 y/o in charge of my almost (but not even) 9 y/o in an airport, with a layover, if they aren't experienced flyers. I wouldn't think twice about sending the 13 & 11 y/o, though.
The 11 yr old and the 9 yr old would have to fly as unaccompanied minors. They wouldn't be alone to fend for themselves in the connecting airport. An airline employee would "receive" the girls from the flight attendant and the take them to the next gate and sign them over to a gate agent there or a FA. If the wait is to long at the gate they would be taken to a room to wait with other UM's waiting on flights. The would not be left alone.
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:39 PM   #14
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The 11 yr old and the 9 yr old would have to fly as unaccompanied minors. They wouldn't be alone to fend for themselves in the connecting airport. An airline employee would "receive" the girls from the flight attendant and the take them to the next gate and sign them over to a gate agent there or a FA. If the wait is to long at the gate they would be taken to a room to wait with other UM's waiting on flights. The would not be left alone.
If it wasn't a layover, I wouldn't have a problem. With a layover, if the 13 y/o wants to go off and explore, the not quite 9 y/o may not be too happy about that since she wouldn't be allowed to join her. Plus, I would have more confidence in my 13 y/o to watch her sibling than an airline employee but I don't think a 13 y/o should have to do that. Hence, the not quite 9 y/o wouldn't go. But if it works for you, no problem. I'm sure they would survive but I likely wouldn't allow it.
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:42 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hannathy View Post
The 11 yr old and the 9 yr old would have to fly as unaccompanied minors. They wouldn't be alone to fend for themselves in the connecting airport. An airline employee would "receive" the girls from the flight attendant and the take them to the next gate and sign them over to a gate agent there or a FA. If the wait is to long at the gate they would be taken to a room to wait with other UM's waiting on flights. The would not be left alone.
I'm sure you are right, but I still couldn't and wouldn't do it. My husband or I one would be making the trip with the kids.

When I have to make a big decision like this I always go with my gut and if something feels "off" then I trust that to be a warning for me.
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