Kids Fly (Permission) Free On Southwest

In a story that’s just begging to be optioned as a Home Alone movie, a trio of Florida kids, the oldest age 15, managed to pay cash for tickets and fly to Tennessee without getting permission from their parents. The kids were able to make their own way without being any members of Southwest’s staff interceding.

The ankle-biters wanted to visit Dollywood, but reconsidered the wisdom of their adventure when they arrived in Nashville and learned they were still hundreds of miles away from their destination and called their parents to bail them out.

ABC News says the kids exploited a procedural loophole:

The Transportation Safety Administration wrote that “kids under 18 don’t need to show an ID” so the children were let through without one. Southwest told “Good Morning America” that “two of the passengers were over the age of 12, and therefore could travel without a parent.”

Remember, parents: If you think there’s a chance your kids will run off on their own, teach them to make clever contraptions that will thwart hapless criminals who try to bother them the whole movie.

Kids Fly Solo To Nasville, Parents Want Answers [ABC News via AOL]
(Thanks, NORMLgirl!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. kt says:

    If they didn’t need to show ID how did they determine that they were over 12?

  2. chucklesjh says:

    TSA probably just thought the kids were with the people in front or behind them in line.

  3. Dallas_shopper says:

    I smell a lawsuit.

    • johnva says:

      On what possible grounds would they sue? The airline did nothing wrong, and nothing bad happened to the teenagers. What’s the problem?

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        They’ll probably sue for negligence in not asking wtf the kids were up to.

        Coming soon, everyone who buys tickets must pay with a credit card, must be over 18 and must show ID. Fuck.

        • johnva says:

          Right, but no harm of any kind was really done. So what “negligence” took place?

          • Newto-Rah says:

            I feel like you do not understand the “sue first, ask questions later” strategy.

            Something happened you didn’t like, automatically sue. And if it involved a child, sue EVERYONE

            • mythago says:

              I feel like you do not understand that “lawsuits cost money, and if you lose, the other side can nail you for fees” concept. Also, the “lawyers who file genuinely frivolous lawsuits can look forward to a nice chat with their state bar” concept.

    • spamtasticus says:

      The children are not the responsibility of the airline. They are first the responsibility of their parents and second of themselves.

      Wow. What a concept.

  4. Hi_Hello says:

    Answer: The parent need to raise their kid just a little bit better. If I wanted to go anywhere, I had to let my parent know. It’s a simple thing.

    There are situation when kids need to fly on their own. I don’t see any problem with southwest, tsa, or even the cab driver.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Raise them a little better? Please. Your “raised better” little bubble children wouldn’t have the hutzpah to walk across the street alone, meanwhile, these kids showed the smarts and social skills to manage their trip cross country.

      • RLars says:

        Or how about the wherewithal to save $700 of babysitting money to actually buy the tickets. Good for her.

        • johnva says:

          The $700 thing is part of what makes me wonder what the real story here is. It sees really odd to me for a teenager to casually drop that much cash that they had to earn themselves (probably took quite a while) for something as silly and poorly planned as this. I have my doubts about the story. If it were their parents’ credit card, I might find it a little more believable that it was spur-of-the-moment stupidity.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Children rebel. It’s part of growing up. So is learning geography, which they apparently neglected since they didn’t realize how far the journey really needed to be.

      Also, teach them where the good places to go are. Dollywood? Really?

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      What the kids did in this particular instance tells us nothing about how they were raised. All normal kids do things they know they’re not supposed to. It’s part of being human.

    • watch me eat says:

      I also agree that theses kids need to be raised better. I mean really, what kind of teenagers want to go to Dollywood?

      • Jedana says:

        At least they had a destination in mind. Although, I would think hopping the bus or train to Orlando would have been more fun, and they would have had money to actually do something other than see the airport!

  5. johnva says:

    I don’t see any real problem with what Southwest did. It’s not their job to babysit people’s teenagers for them (15 is PLENTY old enough to fly without any parents around or getting the airline involved, so I can see why they might not have said anything). This sounds like a poorly planned idea on the part of the teenagers, but that doesn’t mean that there was anything unusual about it from the airline’s perspective; they had no idea what the deal was. Teenagers fly around by themselves all the time.

    • Stoli says:

      True, but you’re going to get all the people screaming that 15 is far, far too young to fly without a parent and we have to protect our innocent snowflakes from all the child molesters at the airports.

      • johnva says:

        If 15 is now considered “too young” to be responsible for taking a plane ride by oneself, then things have changed considerably in just the last few years. I know that I flew by myself numerous times (with the airline’s knowledge) before I was 12, usually watching out for my younger sister too. After I was 12 or so, they let me manage the whole thing myself regularly, including finding my way to a connecting gate at an airport I’d been to many times before. Lots of kids who go to boarding school or have divorced parents fly by themselves all the time, so it’s not unreasonable that the airline employees might not have found it unusual.

  6. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Not the sharpest tool in the shed, that 15 year old. A mere minute of searching, and they would have known that Dollywood is nowhere near Nashville. This could have been an adventure for the times, the next Balloon Boy saga, and something you tell your grandkids when you’re old and feeble – but no, it’s really one moron pulling along two kids. Kids these days lack all sense of imagination. The least he could have done was plan the entire thing properly.

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      I was at the airport this weekend watching a story about this on a TV thinking “Wow, what a day that must have been” right up to the part where they botched up the plan and called home.

  7. FunkDoctor says:

    This is dangerously close to an episode of the Simpsons. Did they happen to encounter the Wigsphere?

  8. energynotsaved says:

    Where were the parents? Don’t they have some responsibility?

    One the other hand, I’m pretty impressed by the fact that these kids decided to get off their bottoms, stop playing video games and go do something. I think my kids, besides being too broke, would never put forth the effort to have an adventure that required more effort and planning than tracking down some bum to buy them a 6-pack.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Becky said she was over at Suzies house, Suzy and DJ said she was over at Becky’s.

  9. NarcolepticGirl says:

    I can’t imagine anyone flying here just to go to Dollywood.
    Yes, Nashville is about 3 hours away. What did they think was going to happen ? That they get off the plane and the airport is next door to Dollywood?

    • Angus99 says:

      And they’re coming from FLORIDA – I guess there are no theme parks there, or at least none that compare to DOLLYWOOD!

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Well, I must admit I was under the impression that Dollywood was magical, so maybe they did as well.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Yeah, that’s what I’m finding myself annoyed with the most. That they didn’t even bother to do this properly. I’m sure if I were the parent, I’d be pissed, but as a childless, anonymous person on the interwebs, I’m just pissed that the 15 year old was so inept at this scheme. I mean, Google Maps! It’s not that hard!

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Maybe they were planning on taking a bus or a cab

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      I think they were going to meet someone from Craigslist. Or maybe they backtraced that cell phone number Justin Bieber tweeted a few days back and wanted to visit him.

  10. Angus99 says:

    Thank God for the crack security (theater) at our airports. How did we ever live without it? To all the people outraged by this, you can relax – they were made to take off their shoes before they boarded the airplane, and that’s what really counts. TSA – providing jobs for nine years.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Its not up to security, the airlines, or the airport – kids fly without companions all the damn time.

  11. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    How long till someone blames this on The Simpsons or South Park.

  12. JonBoy470 says:

    I’m just impressed that a bunch of kids had the cojones to pull off a stunt like this. On the one hand it’s “Great job, kid!” and on the other it’s “Don’t ever do that again!”

  13. Etoiles says:

    Honestly, the only place in the process I feel like someone at the airport should have questioned them was when they showed up paying cash at the counter to buy tickets. Otherwise… yeah, kids and teenagers go through security and board flights without their parents all the damn time. I did at least 3 times between ages 12 and 16.

    • AllanG54 says:

      I’m even more surprised that they got off the ground at all considering how Southwest overbooks constantly

  14. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    A fifteen year old isn’t really a child — when I was 15, I had a driver’s license, worked evenings during the school year and 40 hours weeks in the summer. I’m guessing the workers involved thought the 15 year old was responsible for the other two. Older siblings travel with younger brothers and sisters all the time.

    I just wonder where the parents were the whole time.

  15. ranainsana says:

    i don’t get the big outrage, I attended boarding school, and would book and buy my own tickets from chicago to ny half a dozen times a year from 8th to 12th grade. I never had any airport or airlines official check on me.

    I feel like this is just lack of parenting. who raises kids that want to go to Dollywood?

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Let’s pretend they wanted to go to Dollywood Splash instead. That’s a little better.
      But if I were them, I would just stay in Florida and go to Islands of Adventure or Blizzard-whatever waterpark.

    • johnva says:

      Now that I think about it, the “Dollywood” component of the story could just be a parent-friendly cover story for whatever they were REALLY planning to do in Nashville (that they perhaps thought better of in the end). I’d certainly be questioning that story if I were the parents.

  16. Tim says:

    These are some pretty stupid kids. When I was 15, I could damn well look at a map and see how far Dollywood is from Nashville. Not to mention I could figure out that a trip like this would get me in huge amounts of trouble and I definitely wouldn’t be able to do it without my parents noticing.

  17. Daverson says:

    I’m fairly impressed that the kids managed to round up enough money for the plane tickets. When I was 15, I couldn’t have done that. Most of my discretionary income was spent on marijuana.

  18. pantheonoutcast says:

    And the kids involved were birthed by employees of the airline? Did Southwest adopt these children from a Dickensian orphanage?

    Look, lets get this out there right now for this, and any other article on the same topic:

    Parents: If your kid does something stupid, ultimately, it’s your fault. And don’t say, “You can’t watch your kids all the time! No matter how much you teach them and guide them they still might do something like buy plane tickets and fly to Nashville/ huff spray paint / shoplift farm animals / walk on the railroad tracks!” You know who says that? Bad parents.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Then they’ll just get angry at you because parenting their kids properly makes their kids hate them.

      Y’know what – you aren’t their friend, you’re their parent.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      Oh nonsense!

      Your post makes me wonder if you think your parents were bad parents or if you mis-remember your youth and believe that you were perfectly behaved.

      All kids do stupid things sometimes.

      ALL of them. As in every single one.

      Any adult who says they didn’t do anything wrong as a child/teen is either lying or mis-remembering.

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        I didn’t fly to Dollywood with my siblings on a whim at 15 years old. Never shoplifted, got in trouble with the law, did any drugs, got into fights – I went to school, played baseball, went to library, and rode my bike until I was old enough to get a car.

        Did I do stupid things? Yeah, sure, but not on the order of magnitude that modern teens do. None of my friends or schoolmates did either. It just seems that parenting takes two extremes nowadays – Helicopter Parents or Absentee Parents.

        • myCatCracksMeUp says:

          So seriously – you never did one thing that was slightly to somewhat dangerous? Something that you did where you didn’t get hurt, but might have if you hadn’t been lucky?

          Nearly all the people I work with have college degrees (many with Masters and some PhDs), a large percentage of whom put themselves through school. Not bad people and not people with bad parents.

          Yet we’ve had many conversations about the stupid things we did as children or teens. Just about every one has stories to tell on themselves on this topic. None blame their parents for being bad parents because they did stupid things, and none deny doing some really stupid things.

          I was in most ways a very responsible child and had many responsibilities. I made good grades and didn’t get in trouble. But I did numerous things that were stupid and some things that could’ve turned out badly, but fortunately didn’t. An my parents were great parents. And I was a normal kid/teen.

          I get so tired of the “BAD PARENTS” posts everytime kids do stupid things. Smart kids with good parents do stupid things.

          • pantheonoutcast says:

            “Smart kids with good parents do stupid things.”

            Yes they do. However, I’m willing to bet that there are far more stupid kids doing stupid things because they had either a lack of parenting, an over-abundance of parenting, or misguided parenting.

            Also, just an observation – You tend to argue using outliers and statistical anomalies instead of focusing on the behavior of the vast majority. I find that odd.

            • myCatCracksMeUp says:

              I find it odd that you generalize negatively about almost every group of people in post after post after post. You seem to have a negative opinion about almost everyone who has any bad luck or bad experiences. And you really seem very down on parents. I think most parents are doing an ok job.

              And I brought up all of the people I work with in order to show that it’s not a small sample, nor just me, that has had the same kind of stupid experiences as children, but still had good parents and still turned out just fine. Therefore it’s not a statistical anomoly.

              I think that today, like yesterday and yesteryear, young people do stupid things. And as they age most of them mature and stop doing so many stupid things. It’s part of how the human brain works, how it’s wired.

        • mythago says:

          Sorry about your lawn, gramps.

    • haggis for the soul says:

      Even kids of the best parents will do stupid things. But it’s even stupider to blame this on the airline. Blame it on the kids or the lack of supervision if that applies, okay. Blaming the airline is just, well, another stupid layer.

  19. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    The onus is on the parents.

    Had I done this, my parents would’ve known I was missing before a multi-hour plane ride had elapsed. Plus I would’ve known I would’ve been murdered on my return trip (by my parents no less).

    Grow up and parent your kids. Damn. People like this are why I WILL NEVER HAVE CHILDREN.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      Chill out a little there!

      And seriously – when you were 11 or 13 or 15, you couldn’t be out of the sight of one of your parents for half a day or so?

      If that’s the case, then you have my sincere sympathies that your parents were so lousy.

      At 12 I babysat two small children for 50 hours a week while their parents were at work. My parents didn’t see me for 10 hours a day, and this was an entirely sensible situation.

      Even when not babysitting, I was allowed to go visit friends and I didn’t have to specify which friend.

      There are too many helicopter parents today.

      • Marshmelly says:

        Well I’m sure most parents would ask their children to specify which friend they’re staying with (c’mon thats common sense parenting…why would you not do this?). I’m also sure most parents would know that their kid is babysitting/at the library/wherever for 10 hours. This isn’t “helicopter” parenting, but just basic parenting skills. Yea, kids can wander off for a couple hours without parents knowing where they are, but after a huge amount of time passes, they should begin to question where their kids are before getting a phone call from them in nashville. You don’t have to be with your kid and hovering over them at all hours of the day to be a “good” parent, but having a basic idea or where they are and who they’re with is pretty vital. Not to mention that if you did a good job parenting in the first place, I doubt they would get the idea to hop a plane to nashville by themselves (I know I sure wouldn’t have).

  20. juniper says:

    I’m sort of delighted that of all the places “kids these days” want to run away to, these kids chose Dollywood. Also, delighted that they paid cash for tickets instead of stealing mom’s credit card to buy the tickets online.

  21. BoredOOMM says:

    It has been this way for years. If the child gives a fake name, they fly fully undetected.

  22. CaptCynic says:

    My guess is that these kids are total nightmares, even before this little stunt.

    Also, my spidey senses are tingling that there’s something hinky about the whole story…

    • johnva says:

      Agreed that there is likely more to this story than this article says. Something just doesn’t add up.

  23. coren says:

    If “two of the passengers” blah blah, that implies the third was under 12 and needed a parent to go with, doesn’t it?

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      Actually I read that under 12 year olds just needs someone over 12 with them.

    • Sparkstalker says:

      According to what I saw on this, children under 12 can fly as long as they have someone else accompanying them, not necessarily a parent. So in this case, it was the two teenagers.

  24. Algae says:

    I don’t thInk that 15-year-old will be getting too many more baby-sitting jobs this summer.

  25. haggis for the soul says:

    “the kids’ parents are asking why no one, from the ticket counter to the gate, ever asked the kids what they were doing.”

    What about the parents? Did they ever question what their kids were up to? This is a parental supervision issue, and I really hope they don’t decide to sue anyone.

  26. jrobcet says:

    Where in the world did three children get enough cash to pay for the tickets?

  27. dougp26364 says:

    The first question that should have been asked at the counter was, “May I see some I.D.” Upon learning the children were to young to require I.D., the second question that should have been asked was, “Where are your parents?” If ANYONE along the way used common sense and asked that one simple question, then followed up with the childrens parents to make certain this was all above board, this would never have become a news story.

    SWA’s and the TSA shouldn’t even venture into excuse land on this one. All SWA’s should be saying is that they are sorry it happened, they’ll look into making sure it never happened again and that they’re sending the entire family to Dollywood on their nickel…… long as the parent are with the children.

  28. Neodymium says:

    Uh, so the kids are the ones who did something wrong, not the airline.