Young Traveler

Old Dec 17, 15, 7:34 pm
  #1  
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Young Traveler

I have a 16 yo niece who will be traveling by herself from Boston to Phoenix to spend February school vacation with my family. Southwest considers her to be a Young Traveler and offers very little support for someone in this category. I would like to hear from other FTs on their experience with a child of this age flying alone. Were there any issues and if so what were they? Was the process of obtaining an escort pass reasonably straight forward at both the departure and arrival airports? Any tips or guidance you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 6:27 am
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An airport escort at the age of 16 shouldn't be necessary. Typically, just ask the agent at the ticket counter if needed.

Southwest does not monitor YTs during travel. Accordingly, each YT must have sufficient maturity and capability to request assistance from a Southwest Employee if needed and the means to contact a parent/guardian if there is a travel disruption.
https://www.southwest.com/html/custo...travelers.html

Last edited by aaronp84; Dec 18, 15 at 6:32 am Reason: .
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Old Dec 18, 15, 6:40 am
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WN's YT "service" does absolutely nothing for the parent / kid and is simply designed to make you aware that you are 100% responsible and that the kid is 100% on her own. I wouldn't bother registering and filling out the forms.

An average 16 YOA is more than old enough to travel alone. If yours is, that's great. If she's not, then she shouldn't travel alone.

Do bear in mind that because BOS-PHX requires a change and because there is always a risk of a misconnect that she needs to have a mobile, a CC and some plans for what to do if she gets stuck at the connection point. Because she can't stay at a hotel alone, I would choose a connection point where you've got relatives / friends who could, in a true emergency (bear in mind that this is extremely unlikely) pick her up at the airport for an overnight.

Only you can assess your daughter's maturity. Most teenager's treasure this sort of thing.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 8:32 am
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If she she hasn't traveled much or by herself I'd make sure she was fully briefed on the process and was somewhat familiar with the airport she was to connect in. Review Southwest's terminal maps. I'd want to make sure there was enough time to make the connection.

I'm 4x16 and travel a lot but earlier this year I almost missed a short connection because I was in an unfamiliar airport and the way to the connecting gate was not obvious.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 10:15 am
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I agree with all the advice given so far but especially the part about knowing whether your teenager is mature enough to handle this. Some 16 year-olds can handle this sort of thing no sweat while others would get themselves into some kind of crisis situation 10 minutes after you wave goodbye. Talk to her parents to understand the extent to which she's taken smaller trips on her own (or with people her age) and how she handled herself. I took my first flight, ever, at about that age and I flew solo. And took shuttles/taxis on the far end. So I know from personal experience that it's totally reasonable for a responsible teen. OTOH, I had relatives who, at age 16, could barely get on the bus to school without getting lost, being late, forgetting their bag, etc. It depends so much on the individual teen.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 10:21 am
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At 16, unless some special situation, she should be ready to handle this on her own.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 11:32 am
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The best advice in this thread is to properly plan for the possibility of things going sideways, especially because a 16-year-old can't procure a hotel room or rent a car. What is the plan if your niece is stranded overnight in her connection city?
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Old Dec 18, 15, 11:38 am
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Originally Posted by smmrfld View Post
At 16, unless some special situation, she should be ready to handle this on her own.
I completely agree that most, if not all, 16-year-olds should be able to get through security, navigate the airport, show up on time to the gate(s), and board airplane(s).

I do not think that many 16-year-olds are equipped with the skills and travel acumen necessary to overnight unexpectedly in an unfamiliar, random city, nor to navigate the confusing world of IRROPS on WN. In fact, many adults aren't, either.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 12:36 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
WN's YT "service" does absolutely nothing for the parent / kid and is simply designed to make you aware that you are 100% responsible and that the kid is 100% on her own. I wouldn't bother registering and filling out the forms.
There is no registering and no forms to fill out.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 12:37 pm
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The IRROPS issue for a <21 is that she can't rent a hotel room or a car. Hence the need for a backup plan at the connection point. Not sure I'd want to spend the night at MDW or ATL and even less sure I'd want my 16 YOA doing so or having the cops having Child Services handle it.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 1:21 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
The IRROPS issue for a <21 is that she can't rent a hotel room or a car. Hence the need for a backup plan at the connection point. Not sure I'd want to spend the night at MDW or ATL and even less sure I'd want my 16 YOA doing so or having the cops having Child Services handle it.
Often, the best course of action is to just book the first flight of the day. Unless there is a nationwide air travel shutdown on the level of the Iceland volcano, there's basically zero chance of getting stuck overnight when leaving on the first flight of the day. Most agents will also prioritize an underage traveler in IRROPS.

I guess it depends on the traveler's maturity level, but I definitely traveled at this age to visit family without a parent (and with my younger sibling)... of course I already had a FF# etc.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 2:28 pm
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AA has nonstop service, price looks ok. For me, I would not risk a connect unless she is experienced traveling alone, even though you might be using points. Looks like she leaves late afternoon and arrives around 8pm local.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 2:42 pm
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Perhaps you and the parents would be more comfortable with her on a non-stop, rather than Southwest with a connection. Check out American and jetBlue.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 2:47 pm
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Originally Posted by NextTrip View Post
Perhaps you and the parents would be more comfortable with her on a non-stop, rather than Southwest with a connection. Check out American and jetBlue.
+1 - I was going to ask OP what the obsession is with WN. Whether you are 16 or 60, you still have to change aircraft on a relatively short trip. Why not simply fly ORD-PHX non-stop and not even remotely worry?
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Old Dec 18, 15, 9:48 pm
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It really depends on the child. My daughter flew on SWA at 13 with a connection and I never worried because she has loads of common sense. We did book flights that had backups and always make sure that we had an emergency out at a layover, for example that we knew someone that lived in the area.
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