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Minors Flying Alone JAWM

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I just need some reassurance that this is going to be ok.

 

My 13 year old is probably going to be forced to fly and have visitation with his father who just moved away.

 

How does this work best?

 

I'm nervous and just need tips on how this can be done. I hate that he has to go alone and he doesn't want to go at all. I never fly so we have no experience in this. It stinks cause to the airport and back is going to take me hours and I already work a full time job. This man chose to leave his son and now we will have to do all the work. I'm just upset. My divorce has been a nightmare at this point.

 

Anyways, of course he is paying so it isn't about money it's about me worrying about my kid flying in general.

 

All tips will be appreciated......TIA

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You should be able to get a pass to walk your son to the gate and your ex should be able to do the same thing on his end, so it should be no problem as long as he doesn't have a connecting flight.

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Will the courts force a kid his age?

 

I mean he wants to see his father eventually but not fly once a month as he wants him to.

 

He is so worried cause this is my son that had to stop homeschooling and being in public school he has a lot of homework on the weekends. He wants to keep his good grades and he doesn't always know ahead of time which weekend will be a heavy homework one.

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Yes, what Angie said. You can get a pass to go with him all the way to the gate and stay until the plane takes off, and his dad should be able to do the same at pick-up. Look on the airline website to find out specifics.

 

One good thing, too, is that with visitation being an airplane ride away, it often means less visitation/fewer visits per year. Once my dad moved out of state, we saw him only for a time period in the summer, vs every other weekend. I don't know what y'all's schedule will be, but hopefully it will be tolerable.

 

The flying itself will be fine, the flight attendants will take very good care of him if you request "unaccompanied minor" status.

 

Hugs to you, though, I know it's hard.

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I'm sorry you are going through this.

 

Calvin flew alone from London to Hong Kong at age 11.  It was fine.  He flew as an unaccompanied minor - it was arranged in advance who was allowed to get him at the other side, and they had to show ID.  The staff kept an eye on him on the way.

 

Is there any way that you could go with him, or your ex could come and get him the first time because he's not used to flying?

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Will the courts force a kid his age?

 

I mean he wants to see his father eventually but not fly once a month as he wants him to.

 

He is so worried cause this is my son that had to stop homeschooling and being in public school he has a lot of homework on the weekends. He wants to keep his good grades and he doesn't always know ahead of time which weekend will be a heavy homework one.

Oh, wow....once/month? That seems like a lot. I hope you can get that reduced, or suggest the ex comes to see him if it's that important. I'm sorry he's pushing for such a schedule. :(

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His older brother has offered to fly with him the first time he goes so that's comforting.

 

I asked him to come here and visit him and he is refusing. But this person has turned into something I don't recognize so thas not a surprise.

 

I'm glad to hear some think once a month is a bit much too. We are just starting the negotiation on it so we'll see what happens. This man took over four months to agree to the first custody agreement so this is gonna be just as hard.

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My daughter flew alone on Southwest to visit my parents the summer she was 14.  We actually left her at security because she was confident she'd be fine (she'd flown a couple times before with the rest of us including to Ireland).  My parents got a pass to meet her at the gate (we could have gotten one to drop her off at the gate).

 

Once a month seems excessive when flying is involved.

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Try not to panic. If he meets some lady he may decide that he doesn't want a monthly visit, or he may decide he doesn't want to pay for it, or, lots of things could happen. Right after the divorce a lot of guys spend extra time with their kids but give it up shortly. 

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:grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug:

 

My older two kids have both flown without an adult on multiple occasions and it has been totally fine. I feel better when they go together but each has flown all by himself/herself at least once. OTOH they have been flying since they were babies so they are familiar with air travel.

 

I think technically now that my oldest has turned 14 she could fly on a regular ticket so if you want the airline to look after your son, make sure you have the court order state that he has to fly on a UAM ticket.

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If he is worried about schoolwork I would urge you to talk to a school counselor or to his teachers. 

 

They may be able to let him know some scheduling things earlier. 

 

It sounds disruptive but I hope the visits go well when he is actually on the visits. 

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That does sound awfully disruptive. :(

 

Can your attorney negotiate for airport transportation as well? What a nightmare! 

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The situation sounds rotten. Once a month seems way too often for a visit that requires a flight. Hugs.

 

But I flew all the time alone at that age. And I see kids flying alone all the time - the flight attendants watch them and there are all kinds of rules. Really, it's very safe. There's nothing that could happen worse on a plane than sitting on a bus or in a library or wandering through a museum or something. I'm sure that part will be nerve wracking the first time or two, but it really will be fine. And a way to encourage some sense of independence (though, really, they don't let unaccompanied minors out of their sight as per the rules, but there can be a sense of pride about "I flew alone!" for a lot of young people). 

 

I understand the anxiety... but I would focus on the piece that's really disruptive - the long distance visits so often. I don't know what the court situation is, but maybe once every other month plus certain holidays would be more reasonable for a distance like that? Or maybe because he's homeschooled, the timing of the visits can be longer but with less frequency so they're less disruptive to his life? That just seems like a ton of hassle.

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My kids have flown solo quite a bit to visit relatives, etc.

 

Tips:

 

+ Various airlines have very different rules re: unattended minors traveling. Some require staff supervision up until 16+ and you have to pay $$ for that. If you don't mind the $$, then that's an option. Personally, I use Southwest Airlines as much as I can, as they don't require it, and we don't need it. 

 

+ Direct flights are MUCH less stressful and risky. When my kids were younger, I only would put them on direct flights solo. I'd drive 3-4 hours to a very major airport so they could fly direct. 

 

+ You can accompany the child to the gate, and his dad can pick him up at the gate. You just have to bring your ID and be prepared to go through security (no drinks, knives, etc.). Go to the ticket counter for the relevant airline, tell them you'd like to accompany your child to the gate, and they'll give you a special pass to get through security. His dad can do this on the other end. You can sit there at the gate until they actually take off. 

 

+ If you have to get a connecting flight, consider choosing a connecting city that is within an hour's drive of some trusted family member or friend. Having lived through 9/11 and the all-airlines shut down for 4 days . . . I'm paranoid about this sort of disaster. Similarly, winter weather/mechanical issues/etc, can occasionally require an overnight stay at a connecting airport. (Happened to my college girl this past fall break.) So, having SOMEONE within a reasonable drive who could come rescue the kid at the airport in case of disaster gives me peace of mind. 

 

+ Aim to fly earlier in the day, and on an airline that has multiple flights per day to your destination. Airlines SUCK EGGS about flight sharing now. When dd's flight was canceled going back to school after fall break, there were a couple flights very early the next morning on OTHER airlines, but the (major) airline she was one would NOT book her a flight on those other airlines . . .only their OWN flights (not until the next day, too late to get back in time for an exam) . . . I ended up having to buy an entirely new ticket to get her back in time for her exam . . . Soooooo, anyway, point is that if the flight is early and there are more flights later . . . there's a much higher chance that your kid will get on a flight a bit later, but not stuck overnight. 

 

+ Make sure the carry-on has all critical meds/etc and enough toiletries/clothes for at least 24 hours.

 

+ If you fly WITH your kid regularly, then take those trips as opportunities to teach them to navigate, etc. Once my kids were 12 or so, I started having THEM navigate me through connections/check in/etc. Also, do a lot of coaching on why you go to the gate early, when to use the rest room, etc, etc. I sorta' treated it like I do teaching them to drive  . . . . Essentially talk them through every step and every issue as much as possible in advance of them doing it . . . then have them do it with you by their side . . .

 

 

 

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I used to get paid to drive a girl to and from the airport to visit her father once a month. The father had to pay transportation costs to get her to the airport and the mother hired me to do so. Every once in awhile, the father flew back and stayed at a hotel for the weekend instead.

 

Maybe you should check to see if he has to pay the transportation costs both ways to and from the airport. If so, maybe those costs alone will be enough to dissuade him from flying your ds out. Those costs may be as much or more than the actual airplane ticket.

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He'll be fine. I flew unaccompanied from Pennsylvania to Sicily (Italy) when I was fourteen. :)

 

ETA: But I didn't go once a month. LOL That seems a bit excessive.

Edited by Kinsa

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No suggestions on the airlines, but could your ds fly out only on 3 day weekends, returning on Sunday so he could complete his homework on Monday? There's a 3 day weekend nearly every month here, either holidays or teacher work days. Or would that be opening a can of worms because dad would expect him to stay for the 3rd day?

 

Would the flight be long enough for him to work on his homework during the flight? He would have to be incredibly organized not to leave anything behind on either of the flights or at his dad's.

 

I agree with the poster who suggested speaking with his teachers about getting the assignments early so as to be able to get everything completed. Here there are many students out each day for so many different reasons (ag, athletics, band, debate, JROTC, etc.) that often the teachers are well prepared ahead of time to give the students their assignments.

 

I don't know what state you're in, but in TX, some kids have to follow what their parents want until they turn 18. My dd has a friend who didn't want to visit dad in another city anymore when she was 16, but she was required to.

 

This sounds like a difficult position to be in. I'm so sorry you and your kids are having to deal with it!

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Try not to panic. If he meets some lady he may decide that he doesn't want a monthly visit, or he may decide he doesn't want to pay for it, or, lots of things could happen. Right after the divorce a lot of guys spend extra time with their kids but give it up shortly.

Oh no this isn't the case. We actually were separated peacefully for four years and then he met a woman. He moved to be with her. Right now he is only interested in easing his guilt as well as torturing me. He is suing me for atrocious amounts of money currently. And he used to spend a ton of time with them but it stopped when he met her.

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I'm sorry for the lawsuit, that's ugly. I hope you are getting support from lots of people IRL. You really need it. Also, I see in your signature line that your son is in scouts. These trips might make it hard for him to make rank if your ex schedules them at times he needs to be doing merit badge work. One thing that is super important with this sort of situation, which you didn't ask advice for but I'll give anyway, is to put the best, happiest face on all your social media even if it's a complete lie. It causes the torturer to become more extreme and silly trying to get to you and it's easier to prove in court that they are nuts. If you don't have facebook, instagram and twitter, get them, and put tons of great stuff on there about how great your life is. It will drive the ex bonkers to see you happy, and he will start to do more petty stuff that will make him look worse. 

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I was flying alone internationally when I was in kindergarten. I promise, the flight part is perfectly safe. It's a lot safer than driving that same distance! *hugs*

 

I know there's a lot more going on than just the flight issue, but that is one concern that you can forget about.

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:grouphug: :grouphug:  for you & your ds. Hopefully you can negotiate it to be fewer visits overall so it's less disruptive for your ds (& you).

 

No real advice re: minors flying alone, but I wouldn't worry. I flew all the time as a kid (but not alone) & loved it. I've always wanted to be a pilot. So maybe there could at least be some fun or something to look forward to in the flying itself? I still find it thrilling to fly (yes, even w/ all the inconveniences of modern air travel & airports).

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The first time I ever flew on an airplane was when I was 12, and it was by myself.   The flying part will be a piece of cake once he's done it once.   

 

(((Hugs))) to you and your DS.   My parents divorced when I was in 8th grade, and I hated the forced visitation with my dad (although he was local and no flying was involved).   I hated his new wife and her daughter.  It wasn't until I was in my 20's and newly married myself that I realized I had to forgive my dad, and once I got past that, my relationship with him (and my stepmom and stepsister) has been much better.   I would encourage your DS to hang in there with his dad.   No matter how much of a jerk your XH is being right now, time will ultimately reveal his character, and in a few years, your DS will be old enough to have a choice in whether he continues to have a relationship with his dad.

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:grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug:

 

My older two kids have both flown without an adult on multiple occasions and it has been totally fine. I feel better when they go together but each has flown all by himself/herself at least once. OTOH they have been flying since they were babies so they are familiar with air travel.

 

I think technically now that my oldest has turned 14 she could fly on a regular ticket so if you want the airline to look after your son, make sure you have the court order state that he has to fly on a UAM ticket.

 

Some airlines, including SW, won't allow 13 year olds to fly UAM.  It's limited to 12 and under.

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I'm so sorry you and your DS are stuck in this situation.   :sad: 

 

I wouldn't worry about your DS flying alone since it's a nonstop flight, but if possible I would get it in the agreement that your Ex needs to pay for transportation to and from the airport. Do you have a close friend or relative nearby who would be willing to do that for a fee? I would expect you'd want to take him yourself the first time, just to see how it all works, but I'd definitely expect his dad to pay *all* the expenses of the visit, since he's insisting DS go to I'm rather than him coming to DS.

Also, you might ask your Ex if he'd be willing to do fewer, but longer, visitations, such as one week each during winter and spring break and 2 weeks in the summer, or something like that. That way your son wouldn't have to miss school, and there would be a lot less flying involved.

 

:grouphug:

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Thanks so much for all the helpful info you've given me.

 

I will be sure to include the travel to and from as well.

 

I have no intention of allowing once a month visits but am trying to see what seems most reasonable. I would opt for longer but his dad works full time so he'd be left alone as far as I know and that won't work for me.

 

I feel better now about the actual flying part. My boys are just really hurt by all of this. My older two aren't even speaking to him but they are adults.

 

I think if they are spread put and not too frequent he probably could get his assignments ahead of time. It's just tough sending my son to an unknown place. All the pressure is on him because his brothers have no relationship right now with their dad so he focuses so much on him.

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A lot of airlines don't allow cash transactions.  He will need a way to pay by credit or debit card with a significant allowed amount, in case of checking baggage and such.  Most won't allow stewards to take cash either, so if the airline is one that requires you to pay for earphones or a drink in-flight then he will need a card.  He can also get a government issued photo ID at the DMV.  It isn't needed to fly that young, but could be helpful.

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Separate from the father issues, if he can have someone go with him the first time, he should be fine after that. As someone else said, you can get a gate pass to wait with him if you want, it once he has taken the same flight a couple times, he will be fine with the process of flying.

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If he flies unaccompanied, usually they'll seat him right by where the flight attendants wait, either at the front or the back, and make sure he gets to the correct people when he leaves the plane. Usually unaccompanied minors board first and deplane last.

 

Be aware that 12 is when Southwest stops requiring paying the unaccompanied minor fee-so you may want to make sure your ex does at least the first time, to get your son the priority boarding, gate passes, etc, unless he's very familiar with the route, airport structure, etc.

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It may be hard to mandate a gate-pass for ex, so son may be on his own part of the time. 

 

When dd traveled, we found it very helpful to print out a map of the airport layout/concourses and highlight where she would go.  Of course gate assignments change, but a kid with a map can be given directions by a gate attendant much more easily than one listening to verbal directions. Because I'm compulsive about safety, I sent dd with a different colored highlighter than what we had marked as her route, so the direction-giver could draw on the map in a new color if needed. 

 

(Context: Dd was flying into LAX, and no one was picking her up...she had to get a shuttle to take her to her destination in LA, so that's why the extra effort.)

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