would you let your children fly alone on an airplane? - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: At what age would you let your child fly alone on an airplane
age 1-3 0 0%
age 4-5 3 2.44%
6-7 (1st grader) 19 15.45%
8-9 12 9.76%
10-11 (5th/6th grader) 31 25.20%
12-13 20 16.26%
14-15 20 16.26%
16 or older 18 14.63%
Voters: 123. You may not vote on this poll

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#1 of 54 Old 04-21-2010, 10:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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just curious about this....

i'm told that there are flight attendants who are put in charge of children who travel alone and see them though to their destination, and i have seen this to varying degrees of attention in my own flying experience.

so...at what age would you allow your children to fly without an adult they know (say to visit grandparents or divorced parent in another state)

***and would it make a difference to you if they were with a sibling?
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#2 of 54 Old 04-21-2010, 10:56 PM
 
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I voted although I'm not yet a mama. When I was 11 I took my first flight by myself. It was fine. I had flown before with my parents and it was a direct flight.

I would let a child of mine who had flown prior to fly alone around 11/12. Maybe even sooner depending on his/her maturity level.

I would not let a child fly with a sibling alone until the youngest was at least 15 or so...too much opportunity (imho) for kids to egg each other into misbehavior either with each other or on the flight/in the airport. But that's also from my experience being places with my younger brother!

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#3 of 54 Old 04-21-2010, 11:08 PM
 
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10-11, on a direct flight if I could accompany her to the gate. I'm not sure what the rules are for this these days, but it used to be you could literally put the kid on the airplane and receiving adult could meet the child on the other side at the gate.

I wouldn't do it in the winter if there was a good chance that the flights might be rerouted or delayed.

I also wouldn't do it for a long flight (i.e. overseas, etc.) or a redeye. Any flight where the lights are turned off for people to go to sleep.
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#4 of 54 Old 04-21-2010, 11:11 PM
 
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My daughter flew alone at 15 for the first time last year. My son gets to fly alone when he turns 15 next year.

Yes, I'm a tad protective. I also know my kids really well and 15 was the age I felt the first child could handle herself if some bizarre emergency happened. Now, I've set a precedent and I'll keep my younger child to the age 15 rule.
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#5 of 54 Old 04-21-2010, 11:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by noobmom View Post
10-11, on a direct flight if I could accompany her to the gate. I'm not sure what the rules are for this these days, but it used to be you could literally put the kid on the airplane and receiving adult could meet the child on the other side at the gate.

I wouldn't do it in the winter if there was a good chance that the flights might be rerouted or delayed.

I also wouldn't do it for a long flight (i.e. overseas, etc.) or a redeye. Any flight where the lights are turned off for people to go to sleep.
I'm pretty sure the bolded is still the case. I know I've been allowed to accompany my military dh back to the gate and to meet him there.

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#6 of 54 Old 04-21-2010, 11:17 PM
 
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I flew by myself for the first time around 4th/5th grade.

Just last week I flew and there were two girls, 1 was around 12 and the other was around 5. They were escorted on the plane and escorted off and I overheard the person say the have a few hours so they were being taken to some office to sit till it was time to board the next plane.

I think a lot depends on maturity level and from what I have seen parents are still able to get a pass to sit at the gate but that also depends on the airport/airline same as meeting them at the gate.
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#7 of 54 Old 04-21-2010, 11:18 PM
 
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Gosh, I dunno. I voted 10/11 just because I might be okay at that point, depending.

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#8 of 54 Old 04-21-2010, 11:19 PM
 
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16 or older and I would need a very good reason to allow it then up to 18.

 
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#9 of 54 Old 04-21-2010, 11:26 PM
 
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since we share custody in our very blended family, we have grandparents in different states and one in particular in IL that takes dss on trips.

We have been putting him on the plane alone (in the care of a FA) since he was 6. We have never had a problem.

My boys have also flown alone, starting at 7-9!

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#10 of 54 Old 04-21-2010, 11:27 PM
 
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i flew with my younger sister when i was about 8, she was about 6. it's nearly impossible for anything bad to happen (anything bad that would happen because you weren't there, anyway...), so I don't really see why not. the stewardesses took really good care of us, and we were put directly on the plane by my mom, and taken to meet my grandparents by a stewardess on one of those golf cart thingys. we were never left alone or unsure of what was happening. it was really fun and i would definitely let a child as young as 6-7 fly by themselves, depending on the circumstances and the personality of the child. if it was a first time flight, or the child was really immature/nervous, maybe not, but otherwise, sure.
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#11 of 54 Old 04-21-2010, 11:32 PM
 
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I voted 10-11, because that was the age I started flying alone to go visit my dad. It was fine, no problems
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#12 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 12:18 AM
 
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We have a tradition in our family where we put our kids on a plane, alone (in turn) to go to Alaska to visit grandparents starting the summer they are 10. It's a 5ish hour direct flight and they come back on a red eye. It's the only way for them to get home on a straight through flight. I put them on the plane at the gate and dh'd parents get them off. Because ds#2's b-day is in september when he was 9 he got to go to Arizona alone because his siblings got to go to AK. It's only a 1.5 hour flight.
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#13 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 12:28 AM
 
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I wouldn't have a problem with it after age 8. I was about 7 when I flew by myself for the first time, dh was about 11. My mom always got me flights where I didn't have to get off the plane until the end, but dh's parents had him and his sister (age 8) switch planes in a major airport where they had to walk to another terminal on their very first flight! I would NEVER do that!

I seem to remember that a child younger than 6 can't fly unaccompanied on most airlines.

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#14 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 12:30 AM
 
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I said 9/10 for a non-stop flight, thinking only if it was during the day and in good weather.

The first time I flew alone domestically was 16, but I could have handled it much sooner. And my second flight alone I was 17 and went abroad with 3 connections with no problems.
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#15 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 12:48 AM
 
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I just heard an NPR story about LOTS of kids getting stuck at O'Hare on Dec 26 a few years ago... which is the traditional Mom puts kids on plane to divorced Dad day...

a 9 hour delay and dozens of kids with no place to sleep....

But they all survived.

My kids are too young for me to know what age works for me.. but a connecting flight sounds REALLY scary!
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#16 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 02:20 AM
 
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I know there is a minimum age where airlines will allow it. And only on direct flights up until a certain age.

I flew alone at 14 to visit my best friend in California. At the time I was too old for the FAs to be in charge of me. It was no big deal. I did call when I got there to let my parents know I was ok (no cell phones back then!). I flew again all the way to Houston two years later, to visit the same friend who had moved again.

I wouldn't have a problem letting a child fly with the FA chaperoning. I know they do a good job as I've witnessed children flying alone on flights I've been on. And once they are too old to be supervised by the FAs, it would depend on the maturity of the child.

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#17 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 02:46 AM
 
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I put my 7 year old on a plane to go visit my brother. It was about an hour long flight, and I told my brother he needed to be through security before the flight took off (he was fine with this). The FAs were great about helping him settle in, and they checked my ID on my end to make sure it matched what my brother wrote down (I assume they checked on the other end, but didn't ask my brother)

I don't know that I would have done a longer flight -- like cross country at that age, not because I'd worry about what would happen on the plane, but I'd worry about it being rerouted.

I might have done it at 6, but my son wasn't invited anywhere.

My 13 year old goddaughter wanted to come see me, and she's too old to fly unaccompanied minor -- she had to come as an adult passenger, although we could go through security and meet her at the gate. This worried me more, as she would have been alone if the plane had been rerouted.
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#18 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 04:59 AM
 
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This poll is not really valid because children aren't allowed until they're 5 years old, and then only with restrictions. Yes, a few foreign airlines allow 4 year olds but again, with restrictions.

Just as a typical example, here is United's page on the subject;
http://www.united.com/page/article/0,1360,1052,00.html

As a Flight Attendant, I "handled" a lot of UM's (unaccompanied minors). It was very safe and taken very seriously by the airlines. Since I flew international flights, most of my UM's were custody cases, flying between parents in different countries.

They're never left alone and escorted through the airport. No one sits with them, although we did check on them often. They have to be comfortable sitting on their own. Often we put all the UM's together for company and convenience.

Also, that poll only has the age, not what kind of flying or whether or not a sibling is with them. Also, for international flights, please send your child on an airline which speaks his or her language(s). Yes, there are language positions on those relevant routes but it's better if they can talk to the WHOLE crew (and not need something when the "speaker" is on break) and can watch the movie. I did feel sorry for our non-English speaking UM's. Once I even volunteered to stay with three French sisters since the person picking them up was late. No one at the airport spoke French.
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#19 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 05:20 AM
 
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I said 12-13. DD could probably manage it younger, but the airline we like to use doesn't allow minors under 12 to fly without an adult.

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#20 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 08:45 AM
 
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Are you meaning fly alone - as in not under the care of a flight attendant? Or alone but under the care of one? Two very different things to me as the FA's take traveling children in their care very seriously and it's very different than just putting your kid on a plane, kwim?

My ds is 7 and we are planning to let him fly to Boston to spend a weekend with my sis this summer. It will be a direct flight, and he'll be under the care of a FA until my sis picks him up at the gate.

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#21 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 11:15 AM
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I voted 6-7. I'd have no problem with my 7 yr. old flying as an unaccompanied minor. He's very capable and well-behaved. We haven't needed to yet, but we probably won't always live near his dad and he'll have to fly for visits. I think he'll be more like 9-10 when it actually happens though.
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#22 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 11:17 AM
 
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I did it once a month starting when I was seven-my parents got divorced. It was FUN!! The FA's were (usually) awesome. Lots of times I got to go see meet the pilots and see cool stuff happen in the cockpit.

I always got a pop (a big deal since I was not allowed to drink pop) and cards and plastic wings. We were always seated right in the front of the airplane so the FA's could see us and were always escorted off.
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#23 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 11:29 AM
 
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I can't vote, but I think I'd skew a bit older in my decision reading this Consumerist.com post, which talks about how Delta sent this woman's kid off with a stranger because they thought the man was his uncle!

http://consumerist.com/2010/03/delta...up-for-it.html

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#24 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 11:39 AM
 
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Letting them fly as unattended minors is NOT the same as letting them fly alone. The UM programs are great, and on most airlines kids can fly direct (no change of planes) flights at 5 and can change planes at 8. Both are very reasonable. For both types, the parents/grandparents/whatever take them to the plane on one end and they are met by parents/grandparents/whatever on the other end as well. They do check IDs.

For changing planes, an attendant walks them from one flight to another.

My cousin used to come visit us this way when she was young (5 or 6?) and she had never even flown before. It's truly no big deal. All they have to do is sit.

Plus, they won't let you use the last flight of the day, and if something is delayed so they can't get there that day, they send them back to the point of origin (which is why the adults who drop them off are required to stick around for part of that day, in case they have to come back). It's very well thought out.

For truly flying alone (not UM program), it would depend on the kid, their maturity, and maybe how familiar they are with flying and navigating airports. Teenage, I suppose.


ETA: I think in either case, for UM or traveling alone, I'd make sure the child has a mobile phone to call if they have a delay, need reassurance, etc.

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#25 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 11:46 AM
 
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I first flew by myself at age 7. I flew direct from cleveland to LA and I remember it being at night. I remember the flight attendants being very friendly and helpful. One of them found me a row to have by myself so I could lay across the seats and sleep.

I was a pretty shy and timid kid and I do not remember having any anxiety over the trip and I don't think I had flown before.

Right now, I have boys, 3 and 4, and I would be super nervous to send them on a plane alone, but if I had to, I would wait until they were 6-7 and I would feel tons better if they were together.

As an older child, maybe age 12, I remember doing the same trip, but I was still considered and unaccompanied minor. I remember having to change planes in denver and dallas, both huge airports, one time I had to take a bus to get to my next plane! But there was an adult who was with me the entire time, and again, I was fine.

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#26 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 01:40 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MCatLvrMom2A&X View Post
16 or older and I would need a very good reason to allow it then up to 18.
this.

i could never live with myself if my child fell out of the sky to a firey death without at least one if his parents by his side.

Bring back the old MDC
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#27 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 03:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by blessedwithboys View Post
this.

i could never live with myself if my child fell out of the sky to a firey death without at least one if his parents by his side.
I'm going to disagree. Your child is WAY more likely to die an awful traumatic death from a car accident then in a plane. So are you going to not let them get their driver's liscence until they are 18 so if they get in a wreck they have a parent with them?

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#28 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 06:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by blessedwithboys View Post
this.

i could never live with myself if my child fell out of the sky to a firey death without at least one if his parents by his side.
Do you apply this same logic to cars - not letting your child ride in a vehicle unless a parent is by his side? Because your child is FAR more likely to die a firey death in a car than a plane.

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#29 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 06:27 PM
 
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I said 16ish. For *this* child I would not allow him on a plane without dp or myself for as far as I can see. While I understand that flight attendants take unaccompanied minors seriously, they are NOT trained to deal with an autistic meltdown (which can, unfortunately, become violent). Nope, no way would I send ds alone on a plane. Heck, dp and I are talking about taking ds on an airplane for the first time and we're even hesitant. LOL!

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#30 of 54 Old 04-22-2010, 09:21 PM
 
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I would say, it matters to me more how experenced the child is with flying/the whole process. If they have flown a few times before and are fine entertaining themself on the plane, using the restroom alone, ordering their own drink... AND you are dropping them off at the gate and have someone for sure picking them up at the other end, then I think it would be totally fine at whatever age.

I first flew alone at about 10, an international flight (13 hours) to my grandma's house, and was fine, BUT I also have flown on over 200 flights in my life, so I travel a ton.
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