Nervous about letting my kids fly unaccompanied

Discussion in 'Community Board' started by descovy, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. descovy

    descovy DIS Veteran

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    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 :scared:

    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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  3. EMom

    EMom <font color=red>Comes from a long line of all fork

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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.
     
  4. disprincessatheart

    disprincessatheart I was a Disney Bride 4.29.08

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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.
     
  5. KerriSue

    KerriSue DIS Veteran

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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.
     
  6. crashbb

    crashbb DIS Veteran

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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.
     
  7. Hannathy

    Hannathy <font color=darkorchid>When I stop laughing I will

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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.
     
  8. DISvirgin1

    DISvirgin1 Mouseketeer

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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?
     
  9. SaraJayne

    SaraJayne <font color=red>Stop moving those smilies! <img sr

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    I'm with you. No way would I allow my kids to fly alone at that age. :goodvibes

    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.
     
  10. ladypage

    ladypage <font color=royalblue>And that's how the story abo

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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.
     
  11. sam_gordon

    sam_gordon DIS Veteran

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    I will agree with SaraJayne.

    However, I do think you're too paranoid. We've often let our teen (now 14) "babysit" for an 8 hour workday her two younger siblings (8 & 6). We've taught the teen how to cook (first microwave stuff, now she can use the oven & stove), and how to do laundry.

    Our last two vacations (2011 & 2012), I kept the teen with me through the connecting airports. I had *HER* find the next gate and "get us there". I would have no problems sending my three as "unaccompanied" minors.

    That being said, if your kids haven't had recent flight experience, so they at least have an idea of what SHOULD happen, I wouldn't do it.
     
  12. RitaE

    RitaE DIS Veteran

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    I agree with the above. Is there a particular reason you feel your 13 year old definitely and probably also the 11 year old can't stay by themselves for a work day?

    The flight thing is or isn't okay but independence really has to come in stages. If you haven't moved your kids to the stage where they can handle themselves alone in their own home then I agree they probably can't handle themselves on a cross country flight - much less take care of a younger sibling while doing so.
     
  13. LisaR

    LisaR <img src=http://www.wdwinfo.com/images/silver.jpg>

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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.
     
  14. Hannathy

    Hannathy <font color=darkorchid>When I stop laughing I will

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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.
     
  15. descovy

    descovy DIS Veteran

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    Apparently Delta allows them to fly with stop-overs...

    FIL visits 3x a year. (he only doesn't visit in the summer because it is too hot) We could fly with them to WA but honestly don't feel like blowing the entire summer vacation fund to do so (5 people + rental car)

    We were planning a trip year after next to WA. Honestly we used to go every year, but as the kids are getting older we realize we would rather spend the vacation funds on "real vacations" on some years and only go to WA every 2-3 years.

    Because we were skipping this year to WA, FIL wants us to fly them out on his dime. Which is one thing. But while I don't feel comfortable letting them fly unaccompanied, I am not thrilled about forgoing a "family vacation" because FIL doesn't want to wait until the next summer when we plan on driving up.

    As I say, he visits anytime he wishes, and talks to them weekly. I don't think my reservations are because I want to limit his access.

    BTW... it is my middle (who would be 11) not my oldest who is the responsible one! My oldest likes to test the limits. She's also the one most likely to be mouthy to the 8yo. So I am not counting on the 13 year old, as much as I am my 11 yo! :goodvibes
     
  16. awoogala

    awoogala Mouseketeer

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    I was going to respond, but what it really comes down to is this. YOU are obviously not comfortable with this. YOU are their mother. End of story. I wouldn't let someone else pressure you into something you don't believe your kids are ready for.
    As an aside, I wouldn't do it with my kids, especially with layover, etc. I don't trust an employee of an airline with my bags, let alone my kids. ;-)
     
  17. Janepod

    Janepod <font color=royalblue>The new dinning plan is out.

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    Some kids can handle it, some can't. If you think yours can't, end of story.
     
  18. Tinker'n'Fun

    Tinker'n'Fun <font color=purple>"apple", peaches, "pumpkin pie"

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    Could you fly to the layover, get the girls on the plane, then fly home. Then have your FIL do the same on the way home? It would then be a "direct" flight for them. I know a little more expensive and tell FIL that it has to be this way or they can't do it yet.

    It something to think about.
     
  19. Hannathy

    Hannathy <font color=darkorchid>When I stop laughing I will

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    Yeah but it sounds like the Dad is comfortable with it so it isn't "end of story" they are his kids to and has an equal vote.
    Have you asked the kids if they would be comfortable doing it?
     
  20. Mkrop

    Mkrop <font color=coral>I just cant go on demand<br><fon

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    I would not do it unless it was a direct flight...but I had a bad experience of being sent to the wrong gate and almost missing my connection when I flew by myself at 15.

    Is there another airport you can drive to so it would be a direct flight?

    Even one that lands somewhere else but you dont get off I might be willing to have happen, just not getting off one flight and onto another at those ages.
     
  21. LisaR

    LisaR <img src=http://www.wdwinfo.com/images/silver.jpg>

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    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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