Minors Flying alone (not UM)

Old May 31, 16, 3:12 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 20
Minors Flying alone (not UM)

My daughter is 12, and we're considering sending her alone to visit her grandparents. I thought I'd check in and see if there was anything we weren't thinking of.

Flights are both 1-stop, no plane change. No leg is the last available flight of the day between destinations. She's very familiar with one airport and slightly familiar with the other and is generally a competent traveler.

She'll have her global entry card for ID, a cell phone and more cash than we think she'll need, plus paper copies of her itinerary and emergency contact numbers at both ends. No checked bag, just a light carry-on and a personal item. She should be able to lift either over her head into the bin.

We'll do online check-in, so all she needs to do is go through security to her gate and board, then follow the signs to ground transportation and meet her ride.

I'm 95% sure everything will be JUST FINE and 100% sure that I'll feel like a terrible parent if something goes wrong. Can you think of anything I'm missing?
foodgeek is offline  
Old May 31, 16, 3:28 pm
  #2  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: DCA
Programs: UA US CO AA DL FL
Posts: 42,910
Well, she's a UM because she's a minor and traveling unaccompanied. You are asking whether it is possible to book her without paying the fees. That is a carrier-by-carrier determination issue. I'm presuming that your carrier permits that, but can't confirm because you haven't provided any information.

In addition to your thorough job above, I would confirm that the stop really is a stop and not a plane change. Many carriers do insert plane changes but continue with the same flight #. Again, if you provide information here, you may get some very useful advice.

Do you have a backup plan at the stop point. In IRROPS a 12 YOA who has not paid a UM fee winds up with social services because they are too young to stay alone. Do you have a friend/relative who can provide emergency backup at that city?
Often1 is online now  
Old May 31, 16, 3:34 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Programs: Continental OnePass
Posts: 742
Definitely depends on the airline, for example, on Delta you have to be over 14 to fly alone without using the Unaccompanied Minor Program, whereas on United you have to be over 15, and on Southwest you only have to be over 11.
swiftaw is offline  
Old May 31, 16, 5:11 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Programs: NWAgold
Posts: 608
She may need some sort of credit card if she wants to buy a snack on board (many airlines have "cashless cabins") or if she gets marooned overnight and is somehow able to get a hotel room. And of course, a cell phone for emergency contact.
chococat is offline  
Old Jun 1, 16, 8:39 am
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: SNA
Posts: 16,741
The airline can give you a pass so you can walk her to the gate. They can do same on other side for grandparents if you wish.

Most of the majors do not allow non fee paying UM at 12.
VickiSoCal is online now  
Old Jun 1, 16, 12:35 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 4,101
Originally Posted by foodgeek View Post
She'll have her global entry card for ID, a cell phone and more cash than we think she'll need, plus paper copies of her itinerary and emergency contact numbers at both ends. No checked bag, just a light carry-on and a personal item.
Have you talked to your daughter about how to handle the cash?

When I started traveling solo my father taught me about cash, tipping, "hiring" a porter/taxi, and similar skills most of us probably take for granted now.

Cash: don't keep it all in one place; split it between pockets and both bags. Don't take out the whole wad and peel off the $2 for a soda - only remove the two singles from your wallet. Put the smaller bills on the outside. In other words, don't make yourself a target for thieves.

It sounds like tipping isn't a situation she's likely to encounter this trip, but you might have a conversation about how to pay in restaurants while you're talking about other travel skills.

At 12 your daughter also isn't too young for you to have a conversation about men who like young girls. Reinforce that if anyone insists on talking to her or otherwise makes her uncomfortable, she should not "be polite" but rather ask an adult to intervene. I'm not saying she shouldn't sit next to a man on the plane (hey, women can be predators, too ) but she should know that if she is uncomfortable with the way someone is talking to her/asking personal questions, she should clearly state that to the FA and ask to be moved.

The more prepared a kid is, the safer she will be. Then you can let her travel all over!
CDTraveler is offline  
Old Jun 1, 16, 8:13 pm
  #7  

2019 Secret Santa
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: NC
Programs: AA Lifetime Plat - 2MM miles
Posts: 8,308
Some good advice here. Get her a prepaid card and/or credit card for those cashless situations. She won't be able to get a hotel room at that age but like others have said, in air food. Etc.

The convo about uncomfortable situations in an important one, even if she weren't travelling
Redhead is offline  
Old Jun 2, 16, 9:51 am
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 20
Sorry, I didn't think to clarify the airline. She'll be flying SouthWest, which considers her a Young Traveler (YT) not a UM. I'm not unwilling to pay the fees, so much as the airline considers her not a UM.


Originally Posted by CDTraveler View Post
Have you talked to your daughter about how to handle the cash?
Yes, this is a good point. Given that she can't buy anything on the airplane, and is unlikely to buy much at the airport, the vast majority of the money will be tucked away in her bags (both distributed and secreted)

At 12 your daughter also isn't too young for you to have a conversation about men who like young girls.
A good reminder to re-iterate what is and isn't acceptable conversation with near-strangers. Not just sexual predators, but scam artists and opportunists.
The more prepared a kid is, the safer she will be. Then you can let her travel all over!
Yes, and academically, I have confidence in her skills. Emotionally, I'm better off keeping my concerns on the internet and away from her.

Originally Posted by Often1
Do you have a backup plan at the stop point. In IRROPS a 12 YOA who has not paid a UM fee winds up with social services because they are too young to stay alone. Do you have a friend/relative who can provide emergency backup at that city?
Probably the stickiest issue, and why we picked direct flights through airports less affected by summer storms.

Ideally, we'd get her on another flight, to one of 5/6 possible airports. There are a lot of possible alternate flights, even before you look beyond WN. She's been through IRROPS with us, and knows the drill, but I expect her to be anxious and need some help via phone/text/suggestions.

Second choice is to fly a family member to her - but it would take a few hours from when we knew it was the best option and the more you dither, the more your options narrow.

Third choice would be a friend or family member - which we'd get would depend on the leg and it would be someone she hasn't met. It would be better than nothing.
foodgeek is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread