12 Year Old Kid Flying Alone? Don't Expect Too Much Help From Southwest

The Columbus Dispatch has an article about unaccompanied minors on airplanes that contains the following interesting nugget about Southwest Airlines’ policy:

Southwest escorts children 5 through 11 who are traveling alone, but “once you hit 12, you’re considered a youth and not an unaccompanied minor,” said Teresa Laraba, the airline’s vice president for ground operations.

Unlike most airlines, Southwest is nice enough not to charge for escorting younger kids, but you’re out of luck once your precious little brat turns 12. So what should you do?

Here’s a summery of various policies from different airlines, to help you find a policy you’re comfortable with. There are more specific policies in the article:

    American:

  • $75 each way for children 5 to 14 flying domestic and international flights.
  • You can opt to have your 15-17 year old treated as a minor if you want to lay down the cash.
  • Kids 5-7 have to fly direct, 8-14 can’t transfer to another airline.

    Continental:

  • $50 each way for kids 5-15 traveling non-stop, $95 for a connecting flight within the U.S. or Mexico. $70 and $95 for international flights.
  • No connections for kids 5-7.

    Delta:

  • $50 each way for children 5 to 15, $100 for connections.
  • 5-7 not allowed on connecting flights.

    Northwest Airlines:

  • $50 each way for children 5 to 14 on nonstop flights and $75 with a connection within the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. $60 and $90 for international trips.

    Southwest Airlines:

  • No fee. 5-11 on non-stop flights only. No connections.

    United Airlines:

  • $99 fee each way for children 5 to 11.
  • Children 5 to 7 are allowed only on nonstop or direct flights.

    US Airways:

  • $50 each way for children 5 to 14.
  • Kids are only allowed on non-stop flights.

Minor passengers, major worries [Columbus Dispatch]
(Photo:Jay Adan)

Comments

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  1. MMD says:

    If a 12-year-old can’t navigate an airport alone, blame the parents, not the airlines. It’s not that hard! Congratulations to Southwest for asking young adults to act like young adults.

  2. ndjustin says:

    I agree with this policy. The airlines are not babysitters, if you don’t feel comfortable allowing your 12 year old to fly alone. Don’t let them fly alone.

  3. Me - now with more humidity says:

    MMD: Written like a true ass who doesn’t have children.

  4. realjen01 says:

    @MMD: the 12 year old doesn’t even have to navigate the airport alone. the parents can help with that. they just have to sit on the airplane. it’s not that hard, a baby could do it…

  5. Pylon83 says:

    @ndjustin:
    Exactly. Why should the airline have to take on the enormous responsibility of a child? I think it’s great the other airlines charge fee’s for doing so. Southwest clearly doesn’t want to accept the responsibility and resulting liability. Refusing to do so keeps everyones costs down, which is a large part of Southwest’s business model. If you little darling is not responsible/mature enough to fly on their own with limited supervision, perhaps they shouldn’t be flying alone.

  6. godai says:

    @Me:
    Written just like an Entitlement B***** who wants special treatment just because they have kids.

    Its not that the airlines are NOT providing the service. Its that your child no longer qualifies.

    Just like Happy meals. Just like how after 25 or so, you can’t claim them on your taxes.

  7. DrGirlfriend says:

    I used to fly alone as a kid, with American. They escorted me till the age of 12. I actually think they should raise the age one more year to cover kids through that age. But all in all, I agree that airline employees have enough to do.

    Flying alone was my only option as a kid if I wanted to see my dad – my parents are divorced and they lived far away from each other. I was fortunate that my dad was a flight attendant and was sometimes able to accompany me, but as I got older and he changed routes, that wasn’t the case anymore. After I turned 12, I had flown enough to be familiar with airports, and both my parents trained me really well as to how (and whom) to ask for help if I needed it. They also stayed near a phone and I knew I could call them as a last resort. In short, while it can be nerve-wracking for parents to send their kids to fly alone after age 11, if you prep them properly they can usually handle it. And if you think your kid can’t, then he/she really shouldn’t be flying alone.

  8. DrGirlfriend says:

    @DrGirlfriend: I meant Suthwest should raise the limit to 12. My use of pronouns was unclear!

  9. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @Pylon83: Hear, hear. I have flown alone cross-country since I was eight years old. A child who can read is OK in an airport provided they know to ask only uniformed people behind booths for assistance. They are OK on a flight if provided with something to do and… this important, folks… if they know that queasy feeling goes away if they take the right medicine an hour before they get on the plane. I actually didn’t know about Dramamine until I saw an ad for it when I was 11….

  10. bluebuilder says:

    I traveled alone when i was 12, no problem

    Parents bubblewrap their children, we are raising a generation who can’t tie their own shoes.

  11. DashTheHand says:

    @Me: Just because you have children doesn’t mean you’re more entitled to special treatment nor are your offspring. If you want to pony up the cash to have a professional babysitter accompany your child (whom by this point should be intelligent enough to navigate an airport that has been planned out in advance by YOU the parent with a map in their hand) then by all means send your kid alone on a plane.

    Otherwise, I’ll treat your kid just like any other person in an airport. By the way, most airports have staff, guards, and other personnel that are more than willing to point in the direction of where someone is supposed to go if they are lost and ask.

    Other than that, too bad. Either go with the child or keep them at home.

  12. levenhopper says:

    @realjen01: Not anymore…with new TSA rules, if your child doesn’t fly as a UM, the parents cannnot get a gate pass to drop off/pick up the kid at the gate.

    But I agree…I’ve been flying alone since I was 9 or so. It isn’t that hard to look for the gate you should be at.

  13. clickertrainer says:

    Nowadays, with all the security, it’s a different ballgame than when we were kids flying alone.

    Some kids are mature enough to handle it, some are not. If you child is not, travel with them. Especially if there are connections to be made.

  14. skinny2 says:

    Cripes, I was changing planes in Atlanta at 10-11 without an escort. And that was back when pedophiles could roam the gates without a boarding pass….but I guess if you’re kid isn’t smart enough to handle that….pick an airline that will babysit them. And yes I have two kids and try to raise them to have a brain in their head. Try it, it’s good for them!

  15. scampy says:

    Why in the hell would you fly your 12 year old kid by himself anyway. That is horrible parenting

  16. scampy says:

    You should have to be 18 to fly alone on a plane

  17. sarahandthecity says:

    not only could i handle traveling without parents when i was 12, i was in charge of my 8-year-old sister. but this was pre-9/11, so i guess it was easier because we didnt have to check in and go through security by ourselves.

  18. BlondeGrlz says:

    @levenhopper: I was just going to ask that. I flew alone at 10 & 11 but my parents could pick me up and drop me off right at the gate. If I had to leave my (immaginary) kid at security, especially in a large airport, I would be nervous. The actual flying wouldn’t be an issue – my (immaginary) kid is well behaved enough to sit still and shut up for the length of a direct flight.

  19. Munsoned says:

    I flew alone when I was probably 11 or 12 (same scenario: back then there weren’t really any restictions, and my parent’s didn’t have me accompanied by the airline or anything). I actually missed a connection due to weather, and had to stay overnight alone at the connecting airport to get a flight out the next morning. The airline gave me a coupon to McDonalds and a room at a hotel attached to the airport–they didn’t escort me to dinner/the room or otherwise take any responsibility for me whatsoever. The result? Best night ever!!!

  20. bluebuilder says:

    @scampy:
    What happens on the day that a person turns 18 that suddenly makes them mature enough to handle air travel?

  21. ExecutorElassus says:

    When I was three, I thought it would be really funny to play hide-and-seek with my dad.
    In O’Hare.
    Twenty minutes before takeoff.

    He was not amused.
    Otherwise, I have no comment. Sorry.

  22. Superweevil says:

    @scampy: My sentiments exactly. Who sends their kid (under age 10 especially) on a flight by him/herself? wtf.

  23. VA_White says:

    Kids fly alone all the time. It’s not that big a deal. My son has his own frequent flier account at Southwest because he goes to visit his grandparents three or four times a year. If he isn’t able to navigate from the gate to his seat alone by the time he’s 12, then I have been doing a shitty job as a mother.

  24. Superweevil says:

    @bluebuilder: I’m not saying they have to be 18… but come on, kids should not fly by themselves. Even if they are mature/competent to handle the situation, they’re still open to being kidnapped or worse. It’s just not smart parenting.

  25. pine22 says:

    @ndjustin: i totally agree, if your kid can’t handle it, then don’t let them go. it shouldn’t be on the airlines to babysit every minor who wants to fly alone, its on them. i started flying alone when i was 12 too, its really not that big of a deal.

  26. millcitymodern says:

    you don’t have to leave your child alone…my 15 year old sister came to visit me this summer. My stepmother brought her to OHare in Chicago, and got a pass at security to escort her to the gate. I picked her up in Minneapolis, and all I had to was go to a desk, show ID and tell them I was picking a minor up at the gate. they gave me a pass, I went through security and straight to her gate. we did the reverse when she flew back. as long as there are adults on both ends to drop off/pick up, the child should be fine.

  27. warf0x0r says:

    @Me: Hey, I don’t have kids and sometimes I can be an ass, but don’t lump me in with this guy!

  28. levenhopper says:

    @Superweevil @scampy: When I was 9 years old, I flew from Cleveland to New York to stay with my aunt and uncle for a weekend. It was a mini-vacation for me. Why would my parents come if I wasn’t going to see them all weekend?

    And, example #2: I went to boarding school in 6th grade, because my dad was in foreign service, we moved around a lot, and it just made sense for my family. My parents aren’t going to fly cross-country (or sometimes from abroad) with me just to drop me off at school. I flew 4 or 5 round trips a year alone to and from school.

  29. LionelEHutz says:

    Airlines have enough problems keeping track of luggage, so I’d never trust one of these outfits to have enough competency to keep track of my child.

  30. I was navigating airports at 12 with no problem.. I am 29 now. It comes down to the parents and the kids, if your kid can’t handle the trip alone at that age you should pay for someone to chaperone them that you know or pony up for the cost of the airline having to tote them around.

  31. bluebuilder says:

    @Superweevil: I was responding to Scampy’s comment not yours, but still…if you restrict a 12 year old any time there is a possible chance he could be kidnapped, your kid is going to have some real difficulties managing him/herself in the world when it is an adult.

    The trend to extend childhood through adolescence, making a sharp shift from ‘childhood’ to ‘adulthood’ at midnight when they 18 robs people of an important growth stage of their lives.

    People get kidnapped at 18 too, maybe we shouldn’t let them fly alone until they turn 21.

  32. boxjockey68 says:

    I personally would never let my child fly alone, for any reason.

  33. Kurtz says:

    @LionelEHutz: Bearing that in mind, never let your child fly US Airways alone in or out of Philadelphia.

  34. Buran says:

    @DrGirlfriend: And then someone will come along and whine that 13-year-olds don’t get help.

    C’mon. Them’s the rules. Don’t like it, fly with another airline.

  35. scampy says:

    @bluebuilder:

    What reason would a kid under 18 have to fly by themself. A vacation to Jamaica?

  36. scampy says:

    @VA_White:

    You should be going to his Grandparents WITH him instead of pawning him off on them

  37. misstic says:

    Divorced parents often do not have a choice. Custody agreements almost always have a clause regarding child visitation when one parent moves out of state. Obviously for long distances, the child must fly for it to be feasible.

    I know first hand. We have been putting our son on planes unaccompanied since the age of 5. He is now almost 11 and a pro at navigating airports.

    None of the information shocks me. But of course I’ve been dealing with this issue for years and I know the policies of most airlines by heart. And, I know which ones I prefer. My picks are JetBlue, Delta and Southwest in terms of service for UM’s. I’m also a former Southwest employee from many moons ago and I know that they will escort a child over 12 if you ask to speak to a supervisor. It may be policy to let them fly alone, but managers and superviors at Southwest are known for going above and beyond when it’s warranted. They escort adults when it’s needed. Even in cases where the person isn’t impaired in some way. There are compassionate people employed at major airlines ;) Are they rare? Sadly, yes.

    Again, it’s all in how you ask and how busy they are. If it really concerns you, try an airline that will escort children over the age of 12 and pay the fee. Simple.

  38. Sir_Blingington says:

    When I was twelve, I flew together with a thirteen year old friend to Japan. Got dropped off at security by my parents, connected in Tokyo to another destination in Japan. Neither of us spoke Japanese (though obviously there is tons of English in the airports there) and we didn’t encounter any problems. If we had, it’d have been as easy as asking somebody in a uniform for help.

    Try and raise competent, independent children people. There is no reason a twelve or thirteen year old shouldn’t be capable of following signs in an airport.

  39. WraithSama says:

    I apologize for the length of this post, but have a fun story of flying alone back when I was a minor. Granted, I was 15 rather than 12, but still a minor. I was flying with ATA.

    I was alone on a series of connection flights, including a route from Indianapolis Int’l to Chicago O’Hare. When we reached Chicago, the plane began flying in a holding pattern around the city until we had to fly back to South Bend, Indiana to refuel. Another 30 mins to get clearance for takeoff and by the time we landed in Chicago, my connection flight (last one of the night) was gone.

    I got my luggage and asked the ladies at the airline counter what I should do. After just explaining that I was stranded, 15, and had like $28 on me, they told me they could give me a room at the Hilton for $100. My conversation with them made it abundantly clear they didn’t give a damn. Fortunately I had a mini-loaf of banana nut bread my grandmother gave me before departing so I had something to eat while I huddled with my 2 suitcases near the phones trying to contact my family at midnight to tell them I was stranded and no one was helping me.

    After a couple hours of phone tag with family members, the two ladies from the counter scurried up to me, all smiles, offering free sodas and asking if there was anything at all that I needed. They hurried off explaining that they were booking me a free night at the Hilton. Moments after they left, my mother called me on the pay phone and asked if I was being taken care of now, because she called corporate and threatened to sue if they didn’t fix everything.

    I’ll summarize by saying I got the royal treatment the rest of my trip. I like to think those bitches behind the counter got their asses chewed and their jobs threatened if they didn’t treat me like a king, because they certainly did after mom made that phone call.

    Moral of the story: if you get totally shafted by a company not delivering, knowing who to threaten with a lawsuit will get you everywhere.

  40. JustAGuy2 says:

    What’s the biggie? When I was a kid and flew alone, they escorted me until I was 12, and then I was flying solo.

  41. North Antara says:

    @godai: I can claim happy meals on my taxes?

  42. lisa1120 says:

    When I was about 13, my younger sister (about 11) and I flew unaccompanied to Hong Kong and we made it just fine, even going through Customs on our own. We were going to visit relatives and there was just no way for my parents to take time off work to go with us.

    My sister and I also went to summer camps all over the country when we were kids. Our parents scraped together enough money for us to fly and attend these camps, but there’s no way they would have been able to fly with us. They knew we were smart and responsible enough to manage on our own.

    I don’t have kids yet, but I think it would be important to take at least one trip with my kids first so they get used to the experience of flying before I send them off on their own.

  43. DrGirlfriend says:

    @Buran: Who the hell was whining? I happen to think it should be till age 12 – if you disagree, and want to snark on that, go ahead. I, personally, don’t see the need, but whatever floats your boat.

  44. JustAGuy2 says:

    @scampy:

    Going to sleepaway camp out of state?

  45. emilymarion333 says:

    I don’t think any airlines should let kids under 18 fly solo. If a child needs to fly somewhere then the parent should be required to take them since that is supposed to be the job as a parent.

  46. meballard says:

    It really depends on the kid and the environment they grew up in. I started flying when I was 2 or 3, and fly at least once or twice every year for my entire life (if not considerably more), so flying unaccompanied in the 12-13 range is not a big deal. On the other hand, many people I know don’t start flying until much older, and a 12 year old who has never been in a plane before would do well with someone accompanying them.

    On the whole flying alone as a minor front, what do you think is better? Spending all summer home alone while the parents are working and the child is on vacation from school, or spending a week or two with family in another part of the country (especially grandparents who are likely to be home anyways)?

  47. DrGirlfriend says:

    @ExecutorElassus: Your story reminds me of a trip I took a few years ago. I was flying standby, and so was a family with 3 kids. They had been trying to catch a flight for 2 days. Finally, when they start calling the names of standby passengers approved for boarding, they call the name of the family. Parents are ecstatic. Kids are nowhere to be found. Mom begs and pleads for the gate agents to page the kids, but there’s like 5 minutes to takeoff and there’s no time. They release the 5 seats, so I and 4 other passengers were able to get on the flight. Mom was hysterical and *so pissed*. I shudder to think what must have happened when the kids finally showed up.

  48. Chryss says:

    Meg–“summary,” not “summery.”

  49. JustAGuy2 says:

    @emilymarion333:

    Ever think that part of parenting is also teaching your kids to mature and take responsibility. I hate helicopter parents.

  50. misstic says:

    @emilymarion333:
    Perhaps in a world filled with rainbows and lolliops. Sorry, that’s just not feasible. I take it you don’t have kids??

    I used to have the same attitude. Having worked for an airline, I swore to myself that I would never put my child on a plane alone. Too many variables. And then I had a child. And then I got divorced and moved to another part of the country. Never say never.

    @meballard:
    I think it’s much better to have the child fly and visit family.

  51. polyeaster says:

    I’ve been flying alone since I was 7. FYI the flight attendants supposed to “watch” you really just make you wait until everyone else has left the plane to get off, and then you can pretty much do whatever you want. I see nothing wrong with a 12 year old flying alone…if a parent feels their kid isn’t “there yet,” then they should either get ont he plane with the kid, or pay someone else to do so.

  52. jogr1980 says:

    For some reason, more and more parents expect other people to take care of their children … teachers are blamed if the student isn’t passing, bus drivers are at fault if you aren’t home to welcome your kids, it is the police department’s fault when your child is arrested … now the airline is responsible for your child’s travel?

    Don’t expect the system to care for your kids where you can’t. If they have to travel, make sure they can do it alone or go with them yourself.

  53. bluesunburn says:

    Some 12 year-olds, maybe even most 12 year-olds can handle flying on their own. Unfortunately, some can’t. If your kid is one of the kids that can’t, you need to find some sort of option, whether it’s an airline that will supervise them (fee or not), or if you travel with them.

  54. ManiacDan says:

    Quick comment on Continental:
    YOU have to accompany the child to the gate, and someone has to pick the child up at the gate at the destination. Each person must provide written confirmation from Continental that they are escorting a child, and each person must arrive 30 minutes before their scheduled time. I once dropped my sister off for a flight and I paid the $50 then was informed I would have to escort her to the gate and put her on the plane, then wait for the plane to take off. I asked “what is the $50 for?” and was given a dirty look.

    If you’re sending a minor on a Continental flight, bring a book.

  55. aka Cat says:

    @scampy: grandparents are frequently happy to get a week or two to spoil the grandkids, and kids need a vacation from their parents just as much as the parents do from the kids.

    Shipping the kids off to the grandparents alone makes everybody happy.

  56. bbbici says:

    It is the job of the airport to give directions to flyers who are lost and bewildered, not the airlines. Unfortunately up here in Canada, you are more likely to be summarily executed by Taser than assisted by the airport.

    If a non-retarded 12-year-old that speaks english cannot fly by himself, he should probably be travelling in a Short Bus anyway.

  57. LiC says:

    I’m shocked at the hostility in here. They are children, not brats, Meg.

    Y’all are too accustomed to putting children in boxes. So are the airlines. Some 13 year olds are mature enough, some aren’t. Some 6 year olds can fly by themselves quietly, others are having anxiety attacks because Mommy and Daddy aren’t living together anymore.

  58. boxjockey68 says:

    @emilymarion333: Here Here!

  59. thalia says:

    It’s not that hard to navigate your way through an airport. We always flew Southwest as kids, when I was 12 I escorted my 7 year old sister back and forth across the country many times. It’s not that hard, you just have to know how to read is all.

  60. Wormfather says:

    I dont have any kids but if I did and they had to fly alone, I’d remind them of the importance of not playing footsie in the bathroom stall and I’d leve the rest for him/her to have as a learning experience.

    I’d also book them in a aisle seat.

  61. sburnap42 says:

    I was leading my 10 year old sister through airports when I was 12. Airports are safe places, full of security and the average 12 year old has the brains to find their way through an airport.

    People don’t give kids near enough credit for brains and we seem to have developed overprotectiveness into a virtue.

  62. urusuru says:

    As WRAITHSAMA said, the problem is not can the kid handle it when everything goes smoothly. The problem is can they handle it when things go horribly wrong.

  63. scampy says:

    @JustAGuy2:

    Perhaps the thing to do then would be to NOT move across country after a divorce. Just move 10 or 20 miles away instead of causing all the additional emotional stress on your kid. I know it wasnt fun when my parents divorced but at least the lived close enough I could see either of them when I wanted

  64. meballard says:

    @nursethalia: While I find it quite easy to navigate airports, I know perfectly normal functioning adults who aren’t stupid who sometimes have trouble navigating airports, mind you it depends on the airport, as some are better than others.

  65. meballard says:

    @scampy: Sounds good in theory, but not always practical.

  66. JustAGuy2 says:

    @scampy:

    Huh? Where did I say anything about divorce?

  67. DrGirlfriend says:

    @scampy: I think it’s fair to say that while it would be ideal for parents to not have to move far away, life is not always ideal and sometimes there’s no choice. In fact, maybe the solution is for parents to never get divorced, period. The we avoid all these unpleasantries.

  68. valthun says:

    @ EMILYMARION333
    Wow really you don’t think they should fly solo under the age of 18. You better tell all of those 16 year old pilots that they are grounded by your reasoning then. Yes thats right at age 16 you can obtain a private pilots license. A requirement to obtain that license is a solo flight. At 16 kids are driving cars and hanging out in malls and don’t want to deal with their parents. Not all trips are family vacations, parents have to work. Why deny a kid a trip to see their family in another state because the parent can’t take the time off. Usually those family members are happy to have the kid over, cousins and grandparents love to see their family however they can. From age 6 I flew to my grandmas every summer alone then with my siblings. For me it was a treat and I loved it.

  69. misstic says:

    @DrGirlfriend: exactly. Like I said earlier, “Never say never.” I certainly didn’t want to move far away. But at the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for your family long term. Sometimes that means you move away to further your career or grow your business. I sleep better at night knowing I did the hard things early on. It’s paying off in spades now. Our child is self-reliant from having flown “alone” so much and he’s been exposed to vastly different parts of the country.

    Some folks need to remember that you cannot judge how you would act in a situation until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

  70. Craig says:

    @DrGirlfriend: You know what, you always have a choice as to where you live. It may not be the best choice for you; it may involve some sacrifices…a crappier job, an older car, a smaller house/apartment, no big-screen TV; but you still have a choice. It’s unfortunate that so many divorced parents choose themselves over their kids.

  71. Craig says:

    @misstic: You can justify it all you want, but not having both parents close by just makes divorce worse on the kids. I’ve heard it time and time again from kids who are in that situation. (And as a divorced dad myself I made the choice to stay local.)

  72. humphrmi says:

    Wow, a lot of emotional responses here.

    Back in the days before escorted children, my parents divorced and moved and I had to fly cross-country twice per year to switch from “Mom” time to “Dad” time. This was back in the 1970’s, and I racked up roughly a million miles before I turned 18.

    Here’s how it would work:

    My Mom would take me to the airport, to the gate (which they can still do today), and watch me board the plane, and watch the doors close (lest I jump out of my seat and flee the plane at the last minute) and watch the plane take off. While not absolutely 100% confirmed, she had a pretty good idea that my brother and I were safe.

    Onboard, I was treated just like any other passenger. Sure, they’d make sure I put my seat belt on correctly, but even as young as seven (when I started flying commercially) I could figure that out. I’d order a coke, ask for a pillow, listen to those funky plastic tube headphones, watch the movie if there was one, eat a meal, go to the bathroom – all without much intervention. I’m not saying I was special. I was just a normal seven year old. And it worked just fine.

    At the other end, my Dad would be waiting at the gate (again, which parents or guardians can *still* do while waiting for unaccompanied children, despite the post-9/11 rules, which have an exception for just this very situation) all I had to worry about when the plane stopped was unfastening my seat belt (again, not difficult for a seven year old), grabbing my carry-on, and walking in the same line as everyone else through the jetway to the gate.

    It’s not like kids can get lost on the plane. They can get lost in airports, but (again, here’s the salient point) parents can accompany children through airports, all the way to the gate. But parents think that the airline escort service is basically a babysitting service, and would rather drop off their kids an hour before the flight and go on about their day, unencumbered by their children.

    Seriously, this isn’t a problem to parents who don’t mind spending an hour with their own children in the airport until their flight leaves. Just be a parent, instead of paying the airline to.

  73. DrGirlfriend says:

    @Craig: My own father moved far away in order to be able to provide an adequate amount of child support. Where I grew up, career opportunities were and continue to be scarce; also, public education is close to being useless. His sacrifice (and hell, my sacrifice too) enabled him to pay for decent schooling for me. It was hard, yeah, but you know what? It’s really awesome that some people have a choice as to where they will live. Some truly don’t. All these parenting judgment calls on an article about kids flying alone, and the accompanying airline rules, are pretty friggin’ ballsy.

  74. Craig says:

    @DrGirlfriend: I realize my comments aren’t going to apply to everyone here…I’m just sick of the number of divorced parents I see around me making choices that are all about them while their kids suffer emotionally for their parents’ selfishness. If someone has truly sacrificed for their kids by moving further away then good for them. But if the true reason for their distance is to have a better life for themself then shame on them.

    And if being willing to express my opinion when it seems to go against the majority is ballsy then I’m proud to have a pair of big ones.

  75. mbprice says:

    Wow, did no one realize Scampy is trolling? Clearly he doesn’t think people should be 18 to fly. But it certainly was a successful troll.

  76. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    When I was 8 I was ridding the transit across town to school by myself. When I was 12 I was packing my own lunch and doing my own laundry. One would think a 12 year old could sit a plane by them self for a few hours. You people coddle children too much and they are growing up to be weak and dependent for everything.

  77. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @Me: “MMD: Written like a true ass who doesn’t have children.”

    I have two children, and I wholeheartedly agree with MMD. If I didn’t think my kids were smart and responsible enough to fly alone, I wouldn’t let them. That’s part of being a parent.

  78. B says:

    @godai: McDonalds will sell you a happy meal no matter how old you are.

  79. DrGirlfriend says:

    @Craig: Expressing an unpopular opinion is not what I consider ballsy. What I consider ballsy is making broad and general judgment calls.

    Of course it would be great if not a single parent moved far away and put that kind of stress on their kids. I know, believe me. But, 1) they do, 2) not always is it for selfish reasons, and 3) kids traveling alone are not all products of divorce. I just don’t see how condemning a segment of parents based on an article about airlines’ rules about kids flying alone is a good idea.

    There. Now, what is this about not being able to get a Happy Meal as an adult. Hogwash.

  80. IrisMR says:

    If you guys want that much to have your kids babysitted, pay the ticket for a babysitter to travel with your child. At least you can make sure it’s someone you trust and not just some half-assed employee.

    And who in their sane mind would put a minor alone on a plane?

  81. IrisMR says:

    Wait a minute. Happy meals? I got a happy meal last week and I’m 23. :P

  82. RvLeshrac says:

    @Those who think the airlines should babysit:

    If your little brat gets kidnapped or molested on a flight from Place X to Place Y, I want you to shut up about it.

    Do you ask the waiter at the restaurant to watch your kid?

    How about the cabbie?

    Doorman?

    Grocery clerk?

    Carwash attendant?

    Barista?

    No?

    None of them?

    Then why the hell do you expect the airline to do it?

  83. vanilla-fro says:

    @scampy: Why? Why should you have to be 18 to fly alone? you can drive alone before then, but not get on a plane?

  84. @scampy: Oh, good God, a child gaining some carefully-measured independence by going on a solo visit to relatives is not “pawning off.”

    The child who’s never been outside mommy and daddy’s protective care for even 30 seconds until he hits 18 is the one who’s got problem parents, not the one on a solo trip to grandma’s.

  85. MMD says:

    @Me: And how, exactly, would you know whether or not I have a kid?
    Considering that most of the responses here agree with mine, I’d rethink the name-calling.

  86. emilymarion333 says:

    @JustAGuy2: As a person who does not have kids and is not planning to have kids anytime soon. I personally find children to be a pain in the a**. 18 is when a child is considered an adult and responsible for their own actions. Parents should fly w/ children before that age.

  87. Smackdown says:

    I was making intercontinental trips, unescorted, multiple times a year beginning at the age of 14, and had traveled extensively, unaccompanied, with my younger brother throughout the United States.

    12 is way old enough to be able to follow easy-to-read signs and know the old stranger danger folderol. If your kid can’t navigate an airport by himself by the age of 12, that’s the least of his problems.

  88. @bbbici: “If a non-retarded 12-year-old that speaks english cannot fly by himself”

    That’s mean. At 12 I was just too timid and too scared of strangers to has possibly flown alone. By 16 I was flying alone internationally to countries where I didn’t speak the language (to an airport without English signage, no less!), with changes in countries where I also didn’t speak the language. But at 12 I probably would have had hysterics if someone suggested I take the hopper to grandpa’s. I’m pretty sure I’m not retarded and fairly certain I speak English.

    On the flip side, my youngest brother could probably have flown internationally alone at age EIGHT without turning a hair, and gotten himself upgraded to business class to boot.

  89. meballard says:

    @emilymarion333: By that logic, children under 18 shouldn’t be allowed to go shopping on their own, take the bus to school, take the bus anywhere else on their own, basically not leave the house without their parents… Right, like that makes any sense.

    18 is not some magical number, I’ve seen 18 year olds that are a pain in the ass, I’ve seen 12 year olds that are very quiet and polite and better than many adults.

  90. @Craig: “It may not be the best choice for you; it may involve some sacrifices…a crappier job, an older car, a smaller house/apartment, no big-screen TV; but you still have a choice.”

    So are you comfortable with your tax dollars subsidizing my divorced friend who’ll have to go on welfare unless she moves 100 miles away to find work?

    I mean, she DOES have a choice about where to live, but the choice that involves staying near her ex, who refuses to move to a county or area where there IS work to be found, involves taxpayers paying for that.

  91. Buran says:

    @DrGirlfriend: Whatever you think doesn’t matter; the airline has decided that 11 is the cutoff. If you’re going to snark at me for saying that the rules are the rules, then maybe you should be asking yourself why you think the rules apparently don’t apply to entitlement whores.

  92. JPropaganda says:

    @ErnieMcCracken: That sounds awesome!!!

  93. muddgirl says:

    Every kid is different. My mother would never have allowed my brother to fly without an escort and possibly a tether, but I was perfectly capable of navigating an airport, locating a security guard, and following directions when I was 12 years old. Although to be fair, my mother did lie a few times when I was 15 or 16 and say I was only 12 so that she could walk me to my gate.

  94. scampy says:

    @Craig:

    This is exactly what I was trying to say but Im not always great with words :) Im sick of seeing the parent come first and be selfish and then the kids come second and have to deal with it.

    And to Darwin’s little darling, Im not trolling at all. 18 is the age of majority where you are held responsible for your own actions. Any age less than that then the airlines would be liable for you and they dont need or want that responsibility. That sthe parent’s job. So go ahead and think Im a troll if you want but I really dont care

  95. scampy says:

    @Eyebrows McGee:

    Its when they are solo out of parents care that they do bad things because they know mommy and daddy arent looking. This is when they get drunk at parties, have sex, race cars, and do drugs. Keep an eye on them at all times and they wont do it.

  96. BlackestRose says:

    The issue is not kids flying alone nor those who wish kids not fly, it is that a service, once commonplace, is now seen as an additional way to make money.

    Our indignity should not be at each other as parents or those who choose not to have children, but at the companies who remove a service here and a service there and yet expect no outcry when it is discovered.

  97. humphrmi says:

    @BlackestRose: Actually, as a person who has flown upward of a million miles before my 18th birthday (starting when I was 7), I can state with experience that this (minor escort) service was neither “commonplace” nor even existent. That is, it wasn’t prior to the “please let me pay you to coddle my precious monster” generation.

    Come on, we’re talking about walking down a jetway, sitting in a seat, fastening a seat belt, waiting, then later unfastening a seatbelt, getting up, and walking up a jetway. A pretty average seven year old can do that without assistance. We don’t need to hire nannies to put our kids on planes.

  98. doireallyneedausername says:

    @Kurtz:

    I would never allow any sane adult to fly US Airways, period.

  99. doireallyneedausername says:

    @meballard:

    These are the same people who can’t figure out how to drive a Chevy Suburban properly and has 7 kids to drive to soccer practice every Monday and Wednesday.

  100. Craig says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: As I mentioned in my previous comment, I’m only referring to parents who move for selfish reasons, not those who move for self-preservation.

  101. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    They design airports to be easily navigated. Hell, if folks who can’t even read English can traverse them safely, then what’s wrong with your child?

    I had the kind of parents who if they had an inkling I’d acted up on a plane they’d whupped my ass up and down the terminal. Today, someone’d be screaming child-abuse and calling the cops on them (good luck with that!).

    As a former teacher, my expereince has been that MOST kids are well-behaved when they know you expect good behavior. But if you give kids an inch, they’ll run all over you. your “little angel” is usually a holy terror when you’re not around. If you’ve ever said these words: “That teacher is picking on my child!” then heaven help you when little Paris gets 14.

  102. Xjep says:

    kids should not be allowed to fly without a parent period up to 17, there are many things that could go wrong, weather plane get diverted to another airport, plane gets stuck, pedofiles. be a damn responsible parent and watch your fucking children just because you did something flew on a plane alone when you were so and so age doesnt make it right.

  103. meballard says:

    Some airports are easier to navigate than others, I have seen some pretty bad ones at times (but in general they are pretty good)…

    ANY AGE number is too proprietary. There are 18 year olds who shouldn’t be flying by themselves, there are 13 year olds who can travel better than most people ever will. I can say that I was not any better able to fly by myself at 16 than I was 18, and would have missed out on some valuable trips if I couldn’t fly by myself. And do you really expect a parent to spend up to a couple thousand dollars to fly their son or daughter and then straight back home, only to repeat their process when they return? The ridiculousness of that thought is incredible. Could bad things happen? Sure. What is the probability? Pretty low, especially when they are just traveling on a direct flight between two cities.

  104. XTC46 says:

    in addition to baby sitting my 12 year old I would also like the airlines to polish my shoes and repair my car while I am gone! what do you mean that is not a service they provide!? Im calling the consumerist…they will take care of it.

  105. XTC46 says:

    the parent is either made for 1 of 2 reasons.

    1. they are afraid their kid will get lost/sidetracked/distracted and miss their flight, if that is the case, then teach them not to. The staff only walk you to the gate anyway and you can wonder off, only then the parent can bitch and the person who was watching them.

    or

    2. they are worried about their kids safety and think they might get kidnapped. If this is the case then you shouldn’t trust a stranger to watch them.

    either way, don’t bitch at the airlines.

  106. @scampy: I most sincerely hope that this is, in fact, how you are raising your children, so that when they turn 18 and go away to college (or, God forbid, 22 and you finally let them leave home after FINISHING college), you can enjoy the spectacle of newfound freedom going to completely to their head that they drink themselves into alcohol poisoning.

    Good parents help their children into independence. Bad parents, like you apparently are or would be, overprotect them into either incompetence or rebellion. Good luck with that.

  107. timsgm1418 says:

    nothing, but at least then they can be charged as an adult for any crimes they commit…at 18 they should be an adult
    @bluebuilder:

  108. timsgm1418 says:

    @North Antara: only if they are 25 years old

  109. AlphaTeam says:

    Man I was so relieved when I turned 12 and didn’t have to fly with an escort!