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Any problem with a teenager unaccompanied through security?

Any problem with a teenager unaccompanied through security?

Old Oct 9, 17, 1:24 pm
  #1  
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Any problem with a teenager unaccompanied through security?

My son, 14, will be flying Southwest alone to meet me at a conference (MDW-MCO, one way ticket). Since he's 14 and it's Southwest, he's a Youth Traveler and not an Unaccompanied Minor now. He's TSA Pre, and very familiar with Midway and Orlando airports. A friend will be picking him up at school and dropping him off at Midway for the flight. I'd rather not make the friend do anything more than the necessary (like parking, getting an escort pass, getting body scanned just because) and I'm 100% confident in my kid's ability to negotiate security and the airport alone. He will have his boarding pass, printed itinerary, and I plan to send his Global Entry card with him as age/ID verification just in case anyone gives him issue (even though he shouldn't need ID, but I'm not going to send a 14 year old alone to fight that battle - if they ask, he'll have it).

So, is there any reason that he'd be required to have an adult with him to get through security (or some other issue I'm not thinking of)? I can't find anything stating as such, but all the links also describe the process of getting an escort pass, which I don't want them to bother with.
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Old Oct 9, 17, 1:33 pm
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If he has valid ID such as a passport, no issue at all. If not, then call WN. TSA punts to te carrier.

TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. Contact the airline for questions regarding specific ID requirements for travelers under 18.
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Old Oct 10, 17, 9:46 am
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For the OP, also note that there is enough evidence to confirm that the TSA has taken on a human trafficking mission. I personally have witnessed children being asked to state their names and destinations in front of their parents before the family was permitted to clear the document checker. I don't know how old-looking a child of 14 will face the same type of interrogation. I would just be prepared for this eventuality.
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Old Oct 10, 17, 12:11 pm
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Originally Posted by FliesWay2Much View Post
For the OP, also note that there is enough evidence to confirm that the TSA has taken on a human trafficking mission. I personally have witnessed children being asked to state their names and destinations in front of their parents before the family was permitted to clear the document checker. I don't know how old-looking a child of 14 will face the same type of interrogation. I would just be prepared for this eventuality.
I'm inclined to think a 14-year-old traveling alone would have a LOWER chance of being interrogated than if they were accompanied by an unrelated adult.
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Old Oct 10, 17, 2:22 pm
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OP - Don't worry about this. If your son is asked his name and destination, he presumably knows that.

The issue is whether he has satisfactory ID because he is unaccompanied. That is a question for WN.

Don't let others panic you or him.
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Old Oct 10, 17, 2:59 pm
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This past summer my 16 Y.O. flew solo domestic on AA from JFK. He doesn't have a driver's license yet so I sent him with his passport just in case.
He told me that he wasn't asked for his ID, and that he received pre check.
YMMV
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Old Oct 11, 17, 9:11 am
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Originally Posted by Maxwell Smart View Post
I'm inclined to think a 14-year-old traveling alone would have a LOWER chance of being interrogated than if they were accompanied by an unrelated adult.
Agreed. When he travels with one or both of us, they almost always ask him his name (seems conversational to him, but I know) and then say, "And is this your Mom you're traveling with?" I'm not worried about that aspect of him traveling alone, just if someone would try to stop him from going through by himself under some sort of stranger danger thing or something where they don't think a 14 year old is safe alone. He's fiercely independent and would take great offense.

Originally Posted by AMflier View Post
This past summer my 16 Y.O. flew solo domestic on AA from JFK. He doesn't have a driver's license yet so I sent him with his passport just in case.
He told me that he wasn't asked for his ID, and that he received pre check.
YMMV
Good to hear. I think I'm going to send him with his Global Entry card since that is accepted as TSA ID and has his DOB on it. I'd rather keep his passport safely at home, if possible. He doesn't tend to lose stuff, but no need to risk the inconvenience. Although, his is closing in on expiration anyway.

Last edited by TWA884; Oct 11, 17 at 10:03 am Reason: Merge consecutive posts by the same member; please use the multi-quote function
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Old Oct 11, 17, 2:21 pm
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Originally Posted by manda99 View Post
Good to hear. I think I'm going to send him with his Global Entry card since that is accepted as TSA ID and has his DOB on it. I'd rather keep his passport safely at home, if possible. He doesn't tend to lose stuff, but no need to risk the inconvenience. Although, his is closing in on expiration anyway.
Do airlines accept the GE card as ID?

I ask because my teen has been asked for photo ID at the gate. He had his passport, which the GA accepted as ID. I think that was WN that did it.
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Old Oct 11, 17, 9:19 pm
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Originally Posted by CDTraveler View Post
Do airlines accept the GE card as ID?
Yes, US airlines do for domestic flights.
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Old Oct 11, 17, 9:42 pm
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Originally Posted by Maxwell Smart View Post
I'm inclined to think a 14-year-old traveling alone would have a LOWER chance of being interrogated than if they were accompanied by an unrelated adult.
Because of the name game and other aspects in play, I'm not sure about that. The excuse that uses human trafficking to try to justify this interrogation stuff is also applicable to "runaways".
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Old Oct 12, 17, 5:22 am
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
Because of the name game and other aspects in play, I'm not sure about that. The excuse that uses human trafficking to try to justify this interrogation stuff is also applicable to "runaways".
Good point. I should have added "in the context of trafficking."

Hadn't considered the 'runaway' angle.
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Old Oct 12, 17, 7:37 am
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I did reach out to Southwest and their answer was that there "should be no issues with your son traveling by himself". And just reiterated that minors aren't required to carry ID; which, of course, I know. Still never know since airline and TSA employees seem to like to make up their own rules sometimes... but we live within 20 minutes of Midway, so worst-case scenario, friend can be called and escort him through.
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Old Oct 12, 17, 8:06 am
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Originally Posted by manda99 View Post
I did reach out to Southwest and their answer was that there "should be no issues with your son traveling by himself". And just reiterated that minors aren't required to carry ID; which, of course, I know. Still never know since airline and TSA employees seem to like to make up their own rules sometimes... but we live within 20 minutes of Midway, so worst-case scenario, friend can be called and escort him through.
As TSA makes clear, it is an air carrier issue for <18. I would ask WN to document the PNR and read that back to you so that you know that your son is all set.
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Old Oct 12, 17, 9:55 am
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Exclamation Moderator's Note: Topic Drift

Folks,

This thread is about a teenager flying unaccompanied.

The OP made it clear that her son will have his Global Entry card in his possession. The TSA accepts it an valid identification.

Posts discussing which other identification documents are valid for domestic travel were moved to the following thread:
Acceptable Identification for Domestic Travel?
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Old Oct 15, 17, 8:18 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
If he has valid ID such as a passport, no issue at all. If not, then call WN. TSA punts to te carrier.

TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. Contact the airline for questions regarding specific ID requirements for travelers under 18.
This says that TSA doesn't require ID when the kid under 18 is traveling with someone. It doesn't say anything about the case of the OP, where the kid is traveling alone.

I'd had difficulty with some TSA agents not recognizing or accepting GE cards, despite it being on the official list. They apparently don't see GE cards often as ID. Therefore, I would suggest getting the kid a passport card if this can be done before the date of departure.

I'd also give the kid a notarized letter giving permission to travel, ideally signed by both parents, with contact information for parents as well as the trusted adult dropping him off at the airport. It could also state the circumstances such as the conference in Florida.

BTW, in case of emergency, they kid should also have a working cell phone with roaming enabled and some sort of credit card that can be used to buy food etc.
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