At what age is it appropriate to let a child fly alone on an airplane? This is the newest debate after Annie and Perry Klebahn’s 10-year-old daughter, Phoebe, missed her United Airlines plane connection because the third-party unaccompanied minor service representative had “simply forgotten to show up.”
Phoebe’s parents “only knew their daughter did not make it when her summer camp in Michigan called to say she hadn’t arrived.”
Once she was discovered “missing,” it took an additional hour to find her!
“Apparently when the flight landed, she asked the flight attendants for help, but they told her they were busy and she needed to wait. She also asked thrice for access to a phone to call her parents, but was allegedly also told to wait.”
This is not the first time an airline has failed to provide sufficient care of an unaccompanied minor, and it probably won’t be the last. Her parents could have purchased a direct flight, or provided her with a cell phone for this trip; regardless, the main point is that this unaccompanied minor was, well, unaccompanied!
At what age would you allow your child to fly on a plane unaccompanied?
*Note from the Author: This blog's intention is not to defame any specific airline. I would've written the same blog if it had been Delta, Airtran, or any other airline. This blog is just my opinion, as a mother who is terrified to place her child on ANY airline alone, especially after reading this news story.*
okay so how is it the PARENT fault that the serivce THEY PAID for did not meet their child at the gate and take to the other flight and that the airline folk did not have the common courtesy or morals to help a kid on their own. SERIOUSLY!!!
Okay yes, maybe direct flight and cell phone from parent may have been good ideas but minors flying alone is nothing new and many cases now a days ... court ordered.
by AMBG825January 19, 2013 at 4:04 PM
They were flying Southwest mostly. Once it was Delta.
This was also a couple years ago. They're old enough to fly alone now but if the policy has changed, it's not a change for the good. It is no wonder the child got lost. If that is their new policy, I would sue the airline and open up a real soul plane.
Just curious........ What airline?
That isn't how it worked when my kids flew. They got their own personal flight attendant. The same flight attendant that they were dropped off stayed with them from start to finish. None of this stuff of parents putting them on the plane and HOPING that one of the flight attendants keeps tabs on them and HOPING that someone shows up at the connection point and HOPING someone helps them get off the plane. When my kids flew you handed them off to one flight attendant. S/he stayed with them on the flight, the same flight attendant helped them get to any connection flights and stayed with them until the designated person picked them up.
There would be no way in hell I would pay the price of an extra ticket, which is what we were charged for the unaccompanied minor based on HOPE.
Interesting since all airlines follow the same guidelines.
Wasn't how it worked the numerous times my kids flew unaccompanied. And I would not have allowed them to fly in that manner. It's no wonder the airline lost the child. That's the most irresponsible process I've ever heard and I'm glad the airlines we've used didn't follow this procedure.
That's not how the unaccompanied minor program works. I'm an ex airline employee who had extensive training with booking reservations for minors, and assisted parents during the process while they are in flight.
The parents/guardian at the originating flight, let's say mom takes the child to the airport and obtains a gate pass to go back to the plane. Mom's information will already be in the reservation, so only mom can get the gate pass. Mom MUST stay with her child until the flight has left the ground, she cannot leave the gate when the child boards or is preparing for take off, she MUST stay until the plane is in the air, an airline rep will make sure of this, and I would hope any parent would feel the need to stay.
Now the child while on the plane will be seated in the back of the plane in the care of the flight attendants, specifically one. The passenger manifest will specifically have the child listed as an unaccompanied minor who be the last to leave the plane upon arrival in the connecting city. The flight attendant then hands the child over to the airline rep who is specifically there to "babysit" the child until they get on the next plane, then the child is in the care of the next flight attendant. If the child has a lengthy layover, they are taken to the unaccompanied minor room, which is loaded with tons of fun stuff, like xbox's, tv's, books, crafts, juice, water, healthy snacks and they can use the phone there to call mom and dad.
The person meeting them at the final destination will already have their name in the reservation and must arrive at least an hour prior to the flight's arrival. They will receive a gate pass and must be at the gate where the flight attendant will check that person's photo id before handing off the child.
There are many checks in place because the airlines do not want to be sued and they want to protect the most precious cargo (a term we used all the time).
The parents did not fail at all, the airline did and this upsets me knowing how careful we were with minors. I hated when people turned down the option after a child reached the optional age. I've gotten too many calls to find the child and you go into panic mode. I've always found the child within minutes, but during that time, if I'm upset, can you imagine how upset the parent feels, and how terrified the child is?
Both parties share blame in this. When your minor child flies unaccompanied, they are supposed to get an attendant. that attendant is there for them alone. They get them on the plane. They sit with them. They take them to any connection flights and they stay with them until they are picked up. That is their job. The parents paid for that service.
If the attendant didn't show up, the parents should have been at the front desk complaining and finding out what was going on. They shouldn't have just put the child on the plane alone.