My brother called this morning. Long story short, I need to go to my father's to help my brother care for him. My father is dying. I had accepted that I wasn't going to go (he's been really ill for about 2 years), but my brother really needs the help. Anyway, I'll leave tomorrow morning with DD(4), but I don't want to pull DS from school. He's on spring break next week, so DH suggested that we consider letting him fly. It would cost about the same as driving (it's 700 miles) and obviously would be faster all around. DS has never been on a plane. He's 6. Would you let him do it? I still have to look into airline regulations, so I'm not even sure if he's old enough to fly alone yet. Unfortunately I need to decide pretty fast. DS is very cautious and mature, but this feels like a huge step for a kid who's only ever stayed at home alone once for about 5 minutes.
I think it would be okay. DH would walk him to the gate, he would get on, the flight attendants would help him out with everything he needs while on the plane (as they would be informed that he is alone) and then you would pick him up at the gate. So really, the only time he's alone is on the plane. How long would the flight be?
First of all I am so sorry about your father. It is so difficult being the primary caregiver for a sick parent so I am sure your brother really appreciates the help. Your a great to drop everything and go when you have young children.
I would be completely comfortable with sending my 6 year old provided it was a direct flight or at least a flight where he doesn't need to change planes. The airlines have plenty of protocol and procedure in place so there should be no issues. I would make him a "fun" carry on bag with special treats and activities to keep him occupied.
I'm sorry about your dad, OP. Sending you hugs. I wouldn't let my 6 year old take a plane ride alone but I think you should decide based on what's comfortable for you and how well you think your son can handle things. I agree with HBM. If you decide to let him take the flight, have a fun bag filled for him.
I'll be thinking positive thoughts for you and your family regarding your dad.
I am so sorry about your father. We have lived with my father's chronic fatal illness for years but so far his medications have kept him alive and reasonably able to function.
My oldest son flew about 600 miles when he was a very young 7 (a week or two after his birthday). He had never stayed home alone or been dropped off anywhere or anything like that. I think they are separate types of experiences as he was still watched over by an adult.
It was a fabulous experience for him. We walked him to the gate, he was assigned to a flight attendant and that person was responsible for him the entire way. He sat in the front row by the attendant's station so that they could keep their eyes on him. His attendant then stayed with him upon arrival until the person who we had specified picked him up. ID's were checked and rechecked at every opportunity and he wore a huge packet around his neck with all of his specifics, just in case. She took fantastic care of him. We sent him again the next year and for several years following.
It actually really helped our relationship as before he was rather immature and resisted trying things on his own which was a bit frustrating to me. He realized that he could do things independently.
I wouldn't have any hesitation about doing it with my daughter now, if only we had the money! I think the only thing I would caution is that your child would need to be able to follow rules given by another adult. My kids have all gone through phases of testing boundaries and if they were in a phase like that, I wouldn't try it. On one of my son's trips, there was another child flying alone and that child did NOT want to listen to any of the flight attendant's instructions. She was really good with the child but I could see that being a safety hazard if there were some type of emergency.
why are you even flying with the children?
do you want them to see gpa?
is he in a state (awake)?
when does dp plan to go?
because honestly if you are going there to truly HELP with your kids it would be a hindrance.
if you do want to help then i would say your dp should pull family leave and come with you (unless of course you have family there to help with dd and ds)
i would talk to the teacher and fly out with ds. if he is not really behind she could pack hw so he doesnt miss out on anything and he has two weeks to finish it so she can mail it out to you.
otherwise yes. i would let him fly. however my experience is with my extremely gregarious and independent child. i believe you have to be 5 years old to travel as an unaccompanied minor. however 5 to 7 is only for direct flights. if its a connecting flight then you have to be at least 8 years old.
remember too many airlines charge about a $100 as escort fee.
I have decided just to leave on Thursday and pull him from school for the 2 days. It's not ideal, but I just couldn't stomach the $400 it would cost to fly him out.
In brief, my father was not part of my life growing up. He doesn't really know my children. Because of the life he chose to lead, he really doesn't have anyone around, and for a long list of reasons, my younger brother has ended up taking care of him for a while now. My brother really needs some help. I'm not going because of my dad, which is why it doesn't matter if my son gets there before he dies or not. He's not really coherent right now anyway because of the meds he's on. My mom's family lives about an hour away from my dad, and my cousin will watch the kids during the day while I sit with my father. It's a crappy, complicated situation and one I didn't want to deal with.
I'm sorry about your father and the complicated situation. I think pulling him from school is fine, and it's what I was going to suggest doing. It's the simplest solution. When big things are so complicated, I think it's better to make as many things as simple as possible. Adding complications (like working out a separate airplane journey for a 6 y.o.) will only add to your worries and distractions. You just don't need that right now. He won't even recall those missed 2 days of school next year and it certainly won't impact his education at all.
Best wishes to you.