I have just put my two kids on a plane on their own for the first time to fly unaccompanied, and I have to say I was a nervous wreck! My children are 8 and 7, a good couple of years older than the starting age airlines allow, but I haven’t been ready. For this flight, I spent two weeks preparing the kids for what to expect. I packed the kids their backpacks filled with coloring books, crayons, games, and snacks for the two-hour flight, and checked their luggage so they wouldn’t have to carry anything.
The kids flew on AirTran, and they were very helpful with me during the booking and flight. In order to book, I booked the tickets online and once booked was directed to a number to call to set up the unaccompanied minor flight. They seated the kids in the last row of the plane so they would be close to the attendants and lavatories, and when we checked in before the flight, I was given the appropriate paperwork to hand in at the gate. At the gate, the kids were escorted by an employee onto the plane, the last to board so they wouldn’t have to spend too much time alone. I was instructed to stay at the gate until the flight departed, to be sure there wasn’t a problem. Simple as that!
Sounds easy, right? During all of my worry and stress, never once did it occur to me that at the end of the flight I would not receive a happy phone call that said, “Mommy! We made it! And we weren’t scared!” No. I suppose that is too much for a mother to ask. Now, don’t fear, the airline did not lose my children and my children did not break down into tears on the flight, missing their mommy and wishing they could get off the plane. No, instead, my children weren’t scared one bit. How is that a bad thing? Well, when they get off the plane escorted by angry flight attendants who did all they could not to spank the kids for misbehaving, we have a problem.
Never did it occur to me that my children would not be afraid but instead decide to have a “when the cat’s away, the mice will play” attitude. My little angels decided to be devils. They didn’t know the flight attendants and didn’t show them one ounce of respect. They wouldn’t listen, they ran up and down aisles, and, according to my son, they “play fought” — with fists.
I would like to send out apologies to everyone on that flight from Philadelphia to Atlanta who had to endure the noise and trouble. Apparently, my children were so bad they were separated, so extra rows had to endure the torture. I would like to especially apologize to the flight attendants who had to become babysitters and try to control two unruly children. As a mom, I would like to think all the work I do to discipline and teach the children to behave well will pay off, and I’m mortified that my children didn’t remember a single lesson about keeping quiet in indoor spaces, not kicking the seats in front of them, and that airplanes are not personal playgrounds. Yes, those were my ill-behaved children. Sigh.
Will I let my children fly alone again? Maybe when they are older; I thought they were ready and apparently they were not. I work in travel and the kids travel often, and yet, we still got it wrong. I didn’t expect my blog to turn out this way. Please tell me stories of your children misbehaving to the point of embarrassment to help me feel better!
In all seriousness, how about you? Have your children flown alone? Was it an easy experience? Were there issues that may have been avoided? Are you considering having your children fly alone? Do you have any worries that stop you? I’d love to hear from you!
For more about children flying alone, read Unaccompanied Minors Rules and Regulations.