What age can kids fly alone?

We accompanied Michael on a business trip recently and were shocked to see two separate parties of very young children flying alone across country!! I am not talking about flying from Georgia to Florida. I am talking about 2,000 miles across country! (More on the trip later but for now let’s discuss this shocking parental decision.)

We watched as two different sets of grandparents kissed kids and sent them down the jet way. I literally had my hand over my mouth as I watched the grandparents kiss the kiddos goodbye. Even my kids noticed. “Are those kids flying alone?”

One set was two sisters and they were probably like 9 and 11. The other two were the cutest and tiniest little brother and sister. I talked to the sister while waiting at the bathroom, and she told me that she was 5!!!! And her brother was 7. She told me they were going to have to change planes!!!

They kids seemed to do well. I didn’t hear any screaming or any freakouts. The little pair did go to the bathroom quite a bit. But I have to say I definitely did not see the flight attendants giving either pair very much attention. They were on their own.

I was freaking out because it looked like our seats weren’t going to be together and Rose and Walsh were going to have to sit next to each other but apart from both of us.  I can’t imagine sending my 7-year-old cross country in charge of a 5-year-old.

So what do you think: Would you send a 7-year-old and 5-year-old across country alone? Would you put them on an indirect flight? (Hello you’re saving money by not accompanying them  — pop for the direct freaking flight!)

Have you ever let your kids fly alone? How far? How many legs?

What is the youngest age you would let fly alone or with a sibling?

92 comments Add your comment

susan

July 29th, 2010
4:44 am

Absolutely not! We have been flying as a family since my child was 8 weeks old. Simply not safe in the world we live in. I too have seen many of children way too young flying alone and even though they were supposed to be supervised by the airlines these kids were often just ignored, even saw one instance where the flight attendant was down right rude to the child. I understand that families are often miles apart, but please don’t ever let children fly alone. My child is now 15 and she had a class trip to DC and I chaperoned because of safety. For goodness sake…watch the news!

smh

July 29th, 2010
6:15 am

Last summer I met a woman who sent her children unaccompanied to Germany!! I am not sure what the regulations are on international flights and how she pulled it off but it bothered me greatly. As I recall, the mother opted not to go because the family had already been there earlier in the year and the father was working.

To answer your question, No I would not send a five and seven year old across the country alone. I prefer non-stop flights and therefore I would not book my children on a non-direct trip. My children have never flown alone; ages 11 and 8. The 11 year does not like to fly anyway. Flying alone would send her over the edge. LOL. At what age does it make sense? Not sure but I can guarantee it is not happening here anytime soon.

lakerat

July 29th, 2010
6:40 am

As a former Delta employee I can assure you that though the kids were “alone” on the flight, and even though the flight attendants seemed to not be watching them (and were possibly “rude”), the kids were being watched. They are also the responsibility of the airline as they had been assigned an employee to assist them through the boarding process, and when they landed another employee was assigned to accompany, and watch, them until the appropiate person with proper identification claimed them.

While you do read about screw-ups (just last week there was one where the airline employee assigned to the kid(s) “forgot” about him/her), but those are extremely rare. I would venture to say that the care and attention given “kids alone” travelers is probably better than some parents.

We even had an experience when our oldest was flying alone (and not even paying for the flight) to visit grandparents in KY when he was about 7-8 years old (we put him on the plane)- when he arrived there were no grandparents to meet him! Actually, they were sitting outside in the car and the plane had arrived really early. The flight attendants stayed with the son and paged the grandparents – we have still not let them live that one down, even though it happened about 17 – 18 years ago.

But I will admit that 5 years old does seem a bit young – I actually thought that there was a limit as to how young you could actually leave a child to “fly alone”.

RC

July 29th, 2010
6:55 am

I recall flying by myself at age 11 from Florida to St. Louis to visit my best friend and her family (there was no program for unaccompanied minors back then).

Perhaps because our family lived overseas for a decade, we are pretty relaxed about the kids flying without us, to places like Bali, Indonesia and Melbourne, Australia. Our kids traveled to 6 continents before turning 13, so they know their way around airports and airplanes.

Even stateside, our daughter travels by herself every summer from Atlanta to Connecticut where we have family.

Both kids are quite comfortable taking MARTA to the airport and back by themselves.

gtmom

July 29th, 2010
6:56 am

My comment went missing.

Let go ...

July 29th, 2010
7:08 am

Theresa,
You are a freak. Go ahead and raise your kids as if they can’t do anything unless you’re right there with them, holding their hand through the process.

Listen to the Delta employee’s post. And know they were being watched. But I’m sure had the FA’s been swarming the kids with attendance you then would’ve slanted your article to “Can’t get good Service on Delta if there are unaccompanied minors on your flight b/c they are the only people betting service”

Now quick, go give your kids a trophy/prize, I’m sure one of them just finished NOT first in something.

Kelly

July 29th, 2010
7:32 am

Wow Mom chill out.
My sisters & I flew alone to visit relatives from the time we were 6 or 7. My parents raised sensible children, so there was no fear of the boogey man attacking us at the airport or on the plane. We flew internationally alone as well and never ever had a problem. The airlines were always wonderful and accomodating. I think that this helped us to enjoy living in the world instead of fearing everything in it.

free

July 29th, 2010
7:55 am

My nephew has been flying alone since he was 7 or 8. I coordinate it with AirTran and I must say that I’ve been very impressed w/AirTran’s service. You sit with your child until it is time to board and you must remain at the airport until the flight is in the air. Until you arrive to pick them up (and when they are connecting), they sit in a supervised TV room w/the other kids, vending machines and stuff like that. If you’re late, they call. He’s had no complaints thus far and I would send him on a 4-5 hour flight.

Photius

July 29th, 2010
8:04 am

Chill, Theresa….. Chill Honey Bunny.

deidre_NC

July 29th, 2010
8:08 am

my 2 older kids flew from atlanta to california alone starting when they were probably 11 ans 13…every summer to visit their aunt and uncle. the loved it… there was one incident when something went wrong with the plane and they had toland somewhere unexpectedly and called me a hundred times at 2 am…until they boarded another plane…then they called when they arrived…i have to say i was a little scared just at the fact that the plane had issues. but they did this for years every summer. they were very well taken care of and if they hadnt gone alone tthey never would have formed a relationship with this part of their family. i guess it depends on the kids. mine were always raised to be pretty self sufficient by both me and their dad (who i shared custody with). i have known kids i would let cross the street alone, much less fly alone. if kids are well behaved and understand the concept of obeying adults that are in charge, then you really can let them do a lot. and they learn a lot from it. with so many families living so far apart, and so many split families and 2 parents working….you have to let loose a little or they will never know their families.

MamaBear

July 29th, 2010
8:10 am

I have allowed my children to fly alone from the time that my oldest daughter was 10 years old. I was a single mother living in Dallas, Texas and I wanted to send them home to Georgia each summer to visit my family, but I could not make the trip because I was a SINGLE MOTHER who HAD to work!
Each child is assigned a Flight Attendent and when you take your children to the airport you are REQUIRED to accompany them to the gate and you cannot leave the gate area until the plane has pulled onto the runway. You must provide the airline with all of your personal info, including Photo ID and the name and info of the person who will be picking them up once they reach their destination.
My children have arrived home after a flight and I have actually had flight attendents who would not even allow my children to run up and hug me, until they saw my photo ID and made certain that I was the person with whom the children were allowed to leave.

vcatron

July 29th, 2010
8:13 am

When both my boys were 7&9 they flew from JAX to OKC to visit Grandparents. NO issues because both boys knew what flights they were to be on and all contact information. We had flown many times both nationaly and internationaly and both boys were seasoned travlers.

to those who think it is wrong you are entitled to your own opinion, however before you go off with a “knee jerk” response do your homework on the process the airlines have fot Un Accompanied Minors.

IMHO once children are 7+ it is a good experience for them if the need arises.

Kew

July 29th, 2010
8:15 am

Why worry about what might happen to kids that fly alone? They are probably more safer in the air than on the ground. There are less people on planes than on the ground – plus it’s more secured on and airplane. It isn’t the flying alone that should scare you, it’s making sure that you have family on the other end of the flight ready to receive them, and then it becomes their responsibility. If someone is on the plane that is out to harm them, then they would harm them and you, especially if they have in their minds to do harm.

I sent my 11 year old son to San Diego from ATL to stay a week with my brother and his family and I was satified once my son got on the plane and got settled – but 4 hours later I was concern again only because I wanted to make sure that my brother was there when he got off the plane, and he was. So it’s not the flying alone was the problem, it was making sure that someone you trust and are responsible were on the other end waiting.

motherjanegoose

July 29th, 2010
8:22 am

As most of you know…I fly all the time with Delta on business.

I see kids in the airport all over the country. I put my son, on the plane each summer, to visit my sister ( and cousins) when he was 8-11. He spent the week there with them. I did not put him on a connecting flight.

FYI… Not all flights are direct. We are kinda spoiled flying here in Atlanta and can get many direct flights. If you fly out of a smaller airport that will not happen and while we are enjoying non stop flights…most of the USA is not…life goes on.

My daughter has not flown alone yet she is pretty good at navigating most airports with me. She simply has not had a reason to go by herself.

The gate crew is NOT a private babysitter, so NO they will not be sitting ( with them) in the chairs talking your child through everything. They have a plane to load and get out. The flight attendants have an agenda but the will keep an eye on the kids. They sit the in assigned seats and they are not allowed to deplane until they are accompanied. I have seen several attendants check in with children during the flight.

That being said, I would probably not send a 5 year old alone nor would I send someone younger than a teenager overseas. JMHO

My kids have been seated away from us for years, sometimes this just happens. They have been fine.

T, I am trying to be nice here… ( no matter what the situation) your kids will always pick up on your cues and respond accordingly. If you act confident in their behavior, “Oh wow, it looks like we are not going to be able to sit in the same row but we will be just fine as we are all on the same plane. If you really need me, you can push this little button above your head and the flight attendant will come and get me. I am going to tell her what seat I am in. DO NOT push it just to be silly as the flight attendants have things to do, like that are important to the safety of the plane but we do want you to be safe too!. If you are hysterical, they will follow your lead too. Most kids will rise to the occasion.

Take a minute and re read the comments that so many bloggers shared on the post where you used my idea about raising independent kids. There were some really good ideas. You do not make an independent child, starting at age 16. You start when they are 2 and let them go to the mailbox alone to put a letter inside… of course, you watch them through the curtains and tell them to stay on the grass :).

I wish my kid’s grandparents cared enough to invite my kids for a visit. That could have easily happened but never did.

Sharon

July 29th, 2010
8:22 am

Enter your comments here

When I was 9 (back in the '60's)...

July 29th, 2010
8:22 am

…my parents put me on the BUS to travel alone from Tallahassee to Atlanta, and then back from Atlanta to Tallahassee – and that bus stopped like 10 times between the two cities – now talk about being stupid parents…

deidre_NC

July 29th, 2010
8:25 am

well..i have worrried more when my kids took long car trips with others….and i would never ever put them on a bus at a young age…ive riden the bus and there are some weird people on there lol…

Melanie McElroy

July 29th, 2010
8:26 am

I am currently in the midst of a “formal complaint” because when my 12 year old flew home alone from a summer camp, the man next to him threw up twice. The attendant NEVER assisted my son in cleaning up and when they landed and de-planed, he was carrying his shirt! I wrote AIRTRAN and was told that their investigation results were that the stewardess assisted him and that there was nothing on his shirt and he was wearing it when he got off the plane! It is so frustrating!
I didn’t want a refund, just an apology. I got neither and was basically told I was a liar. What if that man had hepatitis, or AIDS? Why couldn’t they just help a kid clean VOMIT off? And they tell me he has his shirt on?

I WILL NEVER FLY AIRTRAN AGAIN! I will be reporting this to FAA and BBB, perhaps a call to Dateline also…

Sharon

July 29th, 2010
8:30 am

I guess it all depends on the maturity of your children. When my children were younger, either myself or my ex-husband flew with the kids when they were doing going back and forth for visitation. 5 and 7 is way too young to fly unaccompanied! While most airline programs are fairly dependable, it only takes a blink of an eye for something to happen!!

motherjanegoose

July 29th, 2010
8:53 am

catlady….I asked T to send you my info so we can get together soon…hope it works out!

@ Sharon, as it does when you are a parent or even a teacher. To me, it seems like nothing really happens to the kids who roam the neighborhood and whose parents are very nonchalant ( my neighbors). The ones who have parents that are always paying attention, are the ones who happen to have situations.

I found this link and thought it provided some more information:

http://www.delta.com/planning_reservations/special_travel_needs/services_for_children/children_traveling_alone/index.jsp

Mrs. G

July 29th, 2010
8:56 am

5 and 7 do seem a little young… However, speaking from personal experience, I wish that I had flown unaccompanied as a child! I always thought that it looked fun and was envious of the kids who got extra attention from the airline employees, LOL. I probably would have felt more comfortable flying alone once I got to be 16 (when I did first fly alone; by then, I was obviously too old to have an airline employee “watching” and helping me). Of course, I figured everything (connections, etc.) out pretty quickly, but it’s always nice to have a set of training wheels. ;)

Melanie – That’s icky and I’m sorry that that happened to your son (and also sorry that AirTran’s response was what it was). Props to your son for helping the man clean up, though; at 12, I probably would have run away (I say that because, when I was in elementary school, a little boy threw up next to my desk and I ran out of the classroom and wouldn’t go back in…). Also, FWIW, I wouldn’t worry about the man having HIV/AIDS; HIV can’t be transmitted through vomit unless there is blood in the vomit (and, obviously, the bloody vomit (ew) would have to come in contact with an open cut/sore or a mucous membrane). And it is my understanding that hepatitis is transmitted in a similar fashion to HIV. So, at least you don’t have to worry about your son being infected. :)

TechMom

July 29th, 2010
8:58 am

I laugh at some of these comments because didn’t we just have a conversation about independence last week?

As soon as my son was old enough to fly alone (5 years old for direct flights), I sent him to see my parents in Dallas (granted it wasn’t cross-country but still, it wouldn’t have bothered me really). We were sick of making the trip by car and two plane tix gets expensive. There are lots of safety measures for kids flying alone like not leaving until their plane is in the air, person picking up your child has to show ID, etc. There are hiccups in the system but there are hiccups in every system and human error occurs all the time in the ‘real world’. You have to prepare your children for things: if this happens, do this, if you need something, go to this person, etc. but we never had an issue with our son flying unaccompanied.

JATL

July 29th, 2010
9:02 am

WOW -imagine kids who can actually do something for themselves! No helicopter parents around! I guarantee you there were airline employees with an eye on all of these kids. And exactly WHAT do you think is going to happen between boarding the plane and getting off of it? There’s not exactly anywhere to go and get lost, kidnap a kid, etc. If unaccompanied minors are on a plane, the flight attendants may not be thrilled, but they know and they’re watching! All airlines have regulations in place just for this purpose.

You know some families are incredibly spread out, and through moving and divorce, remarriage, etc. the only way some kids get to see grandma and grandpa or daddy or their other siblings is to be put on a plane and flown across the country. I don’t know that I would do it with a 5 year old on their own, but after age 7 or so -sure. If I had to, with the regulations in place, I would send a 5 year old (at that age you can still pin or adhere a big sticker w/ name, address, destination and phone number to them to be on the safe side). I remember being that age and was perfectly capable of getting on a plane, behaving for several hours and getting off of it. Once again -you have to know your kid and what he or she is capable of at what age.

Will

July 29th, 2010
9:13 am

The problem is, while you were gawking at complete strangers kids, your kids were no doubt swinging from the light fixtures. Mind your own business!! My kids have been flying alone since they were 11. They are now late teens, early 20’s and are very independent adults.

TechMom

July 29th, 2010
9:17 am

The other thing we’ve done with our son now that my parents live in Chattanooga instead of Texas, is that he’ll take the transport van back and forth to Chattanooga instead of us driving and meeting my parents if the timing isn’t convenient. I’m not saying that everything has to be convenient to me but I don’t always have 2 1/2 hours to spend driving him half way to Chattanooga and then turning around and coming home (plus the cost of the ticket is about what we spend in gas doing the drop-off & pick-up). Basically we take him to the airport and he gets on the van there. If there isn’t anyone to chat with, he pops in his earphones and 2 hours later my parents pick him up in Chattanooga. Same thing on the way back.

ATL06

July 29th, 2010
9:32 am

I have flown by myself and also with my younger brother since the age of 11 from New York to Atlanta. I did this every summer break growing up. Before that I would take the bus from the Port Authority in New York to Connecticut. It is not a big deal as long as you are there when they take off and you make sure someone will be there when you land.

Peachy

July 29th, 2010
9:36 am

My parents sent me to Europe when I was 15 as a student ambassador. 30 teenagers flew from Atlanta to Paris with 2 adults…now looking back that seems a little silly, not because anything bad would happen to the teenagers, but we probably bothered everyone else on the plane being to loud, horse playing, etc…

TWG-This is starting to become freak.out.mom blog instead of a blog for busy mother’s. Busy mother’s need to send chidlren alone on flights because they have to work and grandparents live across the country and we want our children to have a way to visit them. I really wish this article was about “how you deal with sending your kids on planes alone” instead of freaking out over kids flying alone. For your readers sake and especially the sake of your children please try to get over your fears and give us a forum to disucss these issues and not just the insight into your fears.

Given the fact that one responsibile party puts the kid on the plane and another one must be there to pick them up, I don’t really see what could go wrong.

Allie

July 29th, 2010
9:38 am

My kids have flown alone for years, both on domestic & international flights. I was 12 when I took my first international flight alone,so I waited til the same age for my kids. But domestic flights, well that started at 7. And now they think nothing of dealing with a cancellation/flight delay/gate change. They take it in their stride and just make the best of each situation. They’ve dealt with immigration both here and in the UK, know how to complete custom forms, etc. I wish I’d clocked up half the sky miles they have!!

Theresa, you need to relax a little more, maybe breathe once in a while, and accept that this is an important step to raising independent kids. Not every parent is the helicopter parent you are – you seem to hate leaving anyone or anything alone so much you even considered taking the dog on a flight with you.

Let them go a little, let them spread their wings, they need to know that Mum isn’t going to be around always – heaven forbid something happened to you, wouldn’t you like to know they can fend for themselves??? If you don’t let them take some solo steps now, they’ll probably not do it alone when they’re older.

Cammi317

July 29th, 2010
10:07 am

Funny my fear is not that someone will do anything to my daughter, she is 12, alert and will speak up in a hurry. I am sure she would give whomever an earful if not also a swift kick to the groin and/or a fist to the face. My fear is the plane going down and her being alone and terrified. Not that I could do anything about it if I were on the plane, but at least we would be together if it happened and I would be able to hold her and tell her that I love her. I know that planes are safer than cars, nonetheless the fear is there.

Mattie

July 29th, 2010
10:08 am

The very first time I ever flew, my parents put me on a plane alone to go visit a friend who had moved away. Back then, my father was allowed to walk me onto the plane, buckle me in, and kiss me goodbye. I think I was 10.

I have sent my kids on flights alone more times than I can count. We’ve moved often, and they wanted to go back to see their friends. The only time we ever had an issue was when I was checking in another person’s child to send them home. The ticket agent gave me a pass to take them to the gate, but didn’t want to give one to my son. So, I was expected to leave my child alone in the airport to make sure my friend’s child got safely onboard. Idiocy.

It used to cost $50. extra to fly as an unaccompanied minor. I recently found out it is now $200.!

deidre_NC

July 29th, 2010
10:10 am

cammi i can so feel you on that…i have that fear everytime my kids leave me….but..they know i love them no matter what…so if something happens to them when im not around at least i know they KNOW i love them…and anything can happen anytime..whether they are with me or not…as my daughter so wisely told me when she was 5..mom..there is a 50/50 chance i will get hurt doing anything…its not worth the 50% chance i will get hurt to not do it (cant remember what the ‘IT’ was at the time)

DB

July 29th, 2010
10:15 am

My kids starting flying alone when they were about 10 or 11. No way I would have put them together on a flight by themselves when they were 7 and 5 — they would have killed each other!! Putting one “in charge” of the other would have been a recipe for disaster!

My daughter’s first solo flight was when she was 10, and was going to north Florida to visit her grandmother. A 45 minute flight, direct, lots of documentation on both sides as to who was dropping off and picking up. Ironically, the plane ended up a victim of weather, and ended up sitting on the tarmac for almost two hours in Atlanta before taking off. She was fine, and borrowed her seat-mate’s cell phone to tell me what was going on. (10 years ago, she didn’t have a cell phone, and really, they weren’t all that common). I spoke to the seat-mate briefly to thank her, and she was very charming, complimenting my daughter for her manners. (whew!) But the delay on the other end meant that the aunt that had planned to pick her up couldn’t miss work, so her grandmother had to pick her up — changing documentation mid-flight was a bit time-intensive, but it all turned out right, and I suspect my daughter looks back on it as an adventure. She flew alone at 14 up to a music camp in Michigan, and had to change planes in Minneapolis. The connecting flight was cancelled, and they told the passengers that they would have to wait until the next morning and they would be directed to a local hotel. She called me and asked what to do, and I told her to go to the desk and say, “I am 14, and there is no way I am spending the night by myself in a hotel” — and call me if she needed me to “chat” with them. She did, and magically, the airline found her a flight on another airline. Taught her two things: That she was competent and capable of dealing with setbacks, and how to be assertive. Both good things to learn. :-)

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 29th, 2010
10:49 am

@TWG….

“They[sic] kids seemed to do well.”

You tipped your hand here TWG. The shock and dismay isn’t that the kids were sent unaccompanied, but rather in YOUR world, you don’t believe that YOUR kids at that age would ever have the maturity, composure, manners, and good behavior to “do well” and not scream or freakout without you around.

If they did well, then what is the problem? Ohhhhhh, I know…it’s all about what COULD have happened, regardless of the reasonable and well thought out controls put in place to mitigate the risk. You know what shocks me? I’m shocked that you fly at all. I mean, every year one plane or so (out of hundreds of thousands of flights) full of people crashes somewhere in the world killing everyone on board. I just can’t believe how, in this world full of frightening and dangerous circumstances (some real, some just figments of your imagination), you would put them in harms way by getting on a plane at all.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 29th, 2010
10:57 am

@TWG….On the flip side of this…..I think the flying public should all take a collective sigh relief that you don’t allow your children to fly unaccompanied. Just from all the posts you make about how disruptive they have a tendency to be at school and home, I have a feeling that with my flying luck, I’d be the one sitting next to them as they acted well below their years.

FCM

July 29th, 2010
10:59 am

Why is it a shocking parental decision? Is it because YOU wouldn’t do it?

Reality check: 50% of all marriages end in divorce. Many (no idea the %) of those divorces have “visitation agreements” since minor children are involved.

Math Word Problem Alert:

If Mom lives in Atlanta and Dad in Chicago, and the allotted visitation is 2 weeks in summer, what is the best way to maximize the time? Do parents book extra tix (each way on same day–$500 for parent to do that on Delta on 8/14 ATL to ORD) and you have to pay the kid flights (8/14 – 8/28 for this problem ) so another $ 246.47 PER CHILD. That is $1246.47 just for the visit of one child. In this economy?

OR

Pay $100 at the gate for Unaccompanied Minor so that the FA and Gate watch the kid get on and off the plane. Keep in mind that Mom and Dad should be on each end of the trip and you do non stop flights as much as possible. (parents are allowed at the gate for UnAccomps)

April

July 29th, 2010
11:03 am

I read this thinking, “Wow, what a great adventure these kids had!”

As some others have said, it depends on the kid. My son at age 5 would not have been mature enough to handle it, but my daughter would have been ready long before that.

I don’t think this was as risky as you think. If the kids were well behaved and mature, what is the problem. Bad things can happen, sure, and I am something of a worrier. But with planning on both ends of the trip, I don’t see how this is riskier than any of the things normal kids do on an everyday basis.

Photius

July 29th, 2010
11:10 am

Freak.out.Helicopter.Neurotic.Transfer.All.Mother’s.Fears.to.Her.Children.Wanting.to.Always.be.in.Control.Mom.Blog

What will Theresa do when they head off to college? GPS Tracker computer chip inserted into all her children!

Becky

July 29th, 2010
11:19 am

As others have mentioned, I think it depends on the child..No, I would not have let my two little ones fly alone at 5 & 7..A lot of it would also depend on the length of the flight and NO, I would not have them on a flight that had a layover anywhere and a plane change..

motherjanegoose

July 29th, 2010
11:39 am

@ Tiger…we once boarded the plane in front of a Mom with a tribe. The 2 year old stood up on the seat behind us, reached over and stuckh is drooly pacifier in my husband’s ear ( he was in the seat closest to him). The look on my husband’s face was priceless.

My husband was great with our kids and even lots of other kids but HE CANNOT STAND ANYTHING WET/GOOEY OR TODDLERS THAT ARE NOT SUPERVISED.
It is difficult to eat dinner out with him, especially if there are kids roaming the restaurant and having a free for all. Our friends know this and we try to ask the hostess to seat us away from kids.

On the flip side, he has been playing games with my daughter and the 9 year old she babysits many afternoons ( this summer) before the boy’s parents get home. My husband is home by 4:00 as he starts at 6:00. This child, who stays with my daughter, is pleasant and we enjoy him most all of the time!

Glad I am Gold Medallion and have a chance to upgrade as there are not as many kiddos in first class!

A

July 29th, 2010
11:45 am

Be nice, mommies. She’s just asking a question. Let it go. Mommy vitriol is so unflattering.
A majority of the respondents think this is ok, momania person. So you have your answer.
Also, moms and dads of all ages: it is NOT ok to seat your children in the back of the plane while you coast the clouds in first. Especially on the Orlando route. You know who you are and you know what I mean.

motherjanegoose

July 29th, 2010
11:52 am

@ A, if you are pointing the first class finger at me, my 18 and 23 year olds are fine in coach thank you.

I try to stay away from Orlando too :0

When I travel for business, I am generally traveling alone ( although my husband did come to Oregon) and I did not have my business when mine were small.

Who exactly, on the blog, are you speaking of…I am more than curious. Anyone else?

DB

July 29th, 2010
11:54 am

@MJG: Haha, that reminds me of the time I had to fly with my son when he was 10 mo. old. I had a first class seat (nice and roomy), and back then, there wasn’t the push to have a separate seat for lap babies. So I got a nice upgrade and figured, “cool, more room and the baby will sleep” (he always did, he was a good traveler). No one was beside me and across the aisle, there was a man who looked like the archetypical college professor (tweed jacket, trimmed beard, horn rim glasses, etc.) who glared at me when he realized that I was going to be sitting across the aisle from him WITH A BABY.

Just before they closed the doors, a couple jumped on board, and were separated — one by me, the other by the “professor”. When they realized they were going to be separated, I offered to switch seats with the husband so that they could sit together. The wife thought that was a marvelous idea, and the husband agreed, too. However, the “professor” chimed in, with a look of utter horror and disgust: “I DON’T AGREE WITH THAT ARRANGEMENT!” We all stared at him, and I finally told him, “Well, it’s not really your call, is it? You don’t get to decide who sits next to you unless you bought the seat!” But the wife and the husband were too embarrassed and decided to stay where they were.

The wife got even, though — she ended up talking across the “professor” to her husband the entire trip (two hours), interspersed with frequent, “Oh, look, honey, isn’t this baby adorable!” comments. We all got a giggle out of it — the professor was gritting his teeth so loudly I bet he ground off the top layer of enamel. And my son never uttered a peep the entire trip — he was asleep before the wheels were up. :-)

DB

July 29th, 2010
12:00 pm

@MJG: I don’t think A was pointing at you specifically, hon. But I’ve been on that Orlando flight several times, and I know what she means — mommy and daddy in first or business class getting free liquor, while the kids fight, bicker and scuffle in coach. The parents don’t have to put up with them — but the rest of us did. On one flight, I ended up leaning across the aisle, with my finger on the “Attendant Call” button and hissing, “If you two don’t settle down, I am calling the flight attendant and they will LAND this plane and escort you off. Got it?”

They settled down, although they weren’t happy about it. I saw the parents at the baggage carousel later — the mom was staggering, she was so tipsy, and the kids were jumping on and off the baggage carousel.

PHR

July 29th, 2010
12:09 pm

Ok, I don’t think I would let my 8 year old son fly alone, but it probably does depend on their maturity. My son is not mature enough to handle that. We went on a cruise last week and I had a hard time letting him go to the upper deck for the waterslide by himself. There were over 2,000 people on that ship plus the Carribean around us.

Theresa – I’m with you!

LWA

July 29th, 2010
12:11 pm

I started flying by myself when I was 4 years old. Yes, that was a long time ago. I left DC and flew to GA every summer until I was 15. Back then, my mother was allowed to put me in my seat on the plane, buckle me in and exit the plane at the last minute. I loved it. I flew Delta and always got a deck of cards and a pin from the captain. My sister joined me when I was about 10 and she was 5. We loved it. We use to go home by ourselves and I was 7 and my sister was 2. I was no big deal for me. I was more mature that most.

I waited until my own child was about 10 before she flew alone. There wasn’t a reason for her to fly alone until that time. Now she can get through Hartsfield without a problem and at 17 she doesn’t need mommy to go to the gate with her.

Remember all kids are different and mature at a different rate. My 4 year old can get his own bread and sandwich meat from the fridge and put together some sort of sandwich and I allow it. The 10 year old is at home right now alone and she loves it. I left some chicken in the fridge and told her to put it in the oven at 6pm. She said ok. Don’t under estimate kids. They will let you know when they are ready and if you are not a smothering parent, you should be okay with that.

Theresa I think we must be careful as parents to not make a big deal about things. Your kids may not want to EVER fly alone b/c of any hysteria caused by negative conversation regarding the other children who were traveling alone. Don’t make kids out to be “SCARED” about everything b/c the parents are.

Tami

July 29th, 2010
12:15 pm

I’m sorry….ages 5 & 7 are TOO YOUNG! Ages 9 & 11…..uhhhh, semi-too young. My nephs are 8-1/2 and 3-1/2. There’d be NO WAY they’d fly alone. Their extended family wouldn’t let that happen. But neither would their parents. And you know why? In our world, too many kids are being snatched by “animals”. And children are so vulnerable as it is, no matter how mature they are. I’d be half out of mind with worry wondering if they had safely reached their destination, and that a family member was there at the gate to receive them — with all the flight delays and gate changes that so often occur. No. I would not allow it.

LWA

July 29th, 2010
12:21 pm

How many times have we heard on the news of kids being snatched traveling on a plane alone vs. being snatched riding their bikes in their “safe” neighborhood??? Some kids aren’t ready and some are.

So, if you don’t agree kids traveling alone, save your money and buy a ticket to travel with them or drive the car.

However, MANY feel it is OK.

It is a matter of choice and/or opinion.

La

July 29th, 2010
12:22 pm

I wouldn’t let my daughter fly alone and she is both resourceful and has been flying since she was 6 months old (so, 10 years). After 8-12 air trips per year for the last 10 years with and without DD in tow, I have run into lots of complications that a kid cannot handle. I wouldn’t want my kid trying to reschedule a connection that is missed (happens in about 20% of my flights, more if the flight is in the Southeast in the summer, due to storms), or trying to book a room to stay over if the flight is cancelled for weather (has also happened to me several times). Direct flights may be okay – didn’t know you could accompany them to the gate – true on the pick up end, too? Does anyone know how rebooking or overnight stays are handled for unaccompanied minors, especially if it involves a cost for which a credit card number is needed?

Lori

July 29th, 2010
12:25 pm

No way I’d put my 7 year old on a plane by himself. You used to be able to pick your kid up at the gate, but now you can’t go there without a boarding pass, and I’m sorry, I’m not leaving some airport employee in charge of my child. As far as how old a kid needs to be I think depends on the ability level of the child. Sure a short flight is not that big a deal, but it’s not just the flight. The kid needs to be able to get to the plane, board when called, sit quietly alone, get off the plane, be responsible for his/her belongings, navigate the receiving airport, find his/her ride when they get there. Not only that, but what happens in an emergency? Can this kid handle landing in an unfamiliar airport in the event that the plane is diverted. Would they know who to call, how to place a long distance call from a payphone in the event of cell phone outage, explain to an adult who they are and that they are traveling alone….. and it goes on. I know my 7 year old could not do all these things and he is an extremely capable child. I’m thinking teenage maybe, but parents need to have a plan in place for any emergency that may pop up, so you child knows exactly what to do.

La

July 29th, 2010
12:25 pm

@LWA. There is a state law restricting how long your minor child can be home alone. If you are saying she is alone all day, and responsible for getting your meal ready at night, that is in violation of the law. Your kid may be ready, but the law says no.