Unaccompanied Minor Help!

(89 Posts)
Notsurehow Sat 21-Dec-13 15:32:50

My daughter aged 8,has been invited to Australia to spend time with some people who have been/are very special in our lives,There is no way I can afford to travel with her. I totally and utterly trust the people she will be staying with (including her old nanny who has been part of our lives since she was born,and regularly stays with us).
My concern (and only concern) is the flight.
Does anyone have any experience of sending a child as an an uncompanied minor?
Any airlines better than others?
Any tips?
Any warnings?

NatashaBee Sat 21-Dec-13 15:38:48

My stepdaughter used to fly as a UM regularly. It's a very good system. She basically got signed for every time she was turned over to someone else - I took her all the way to the gate, a stewardess would escort her onto the plane and off at the other end where her mum would be waiting at the gate. They would help her get herself settled on the plane and check on her/ feed her regularly. There was an additional fee for using the service.

You may be limited to the airline you use as some only allow UMs on direct flights - no plane changes or stopovers.

tribpot Sat 21-Dec-13 15:56:08

It's a very, very long flight for a child on her own. Is there any kind of compromise possible, could they meet her in Hong Kong or similar?

Is your DD an experienced flier?

Notsurehow Sat 21-Dec-13 17:34:40

DD is a very experienced flier..although not on her own.She is extremely mature for her age and excited at the chance to spend time in Australia with so many people who care about her.
I want to book a flight with a minimal re-fuelling time (not getting off the plane) but if necessary,an airline that has great feedback about care of UM's.
No chance to meet in HK etc unfortunately so has to be straight through...would love to hear ANY experiences (good or bad!)

Notsurehow Sat 21-Dec-13 17:36:42

NatashaBee...sounds like exactly what I am looking for. Where was SD flying to and which airline did you use??

NatashaBee Sat 21-Dec-13 17:40:39

This was the US so not sure it would be relevant, she's used Delta a number of times and they were good. There's a forum called FlyerTalk which might have some useful info?

Ruthiebabes Sat 21-Dec-13 18:22:43

I travelled as an unaccompanied minor to Boston when I was 14. There were several of us and we were sat together and well looked after. We were then signed over to the meeting family. I appreciate I was older but I had only flown once and I had no problems.

Notsurehow Sun 22-Dec-13 11:56:20

Thanks for the Flyertalk tip Natashabee

MummySantaHoHoHo Sun 22-Dec-13 12:00:18

I was 3 first time I did it - if she understands and wants it she will be fine

Notsurehow Sun 22-Dec-13 12:07:23

Oh I have no doubt that she will be fine...just which airline is best at caring for UMs....Am thinking BA but possibly Virgin or Cathay. Just wondered if anyone had experience of them.

So little info out there...

Age 3 Mummy to Santa...WOW!

tribpot Sun 22-Dec-13 13:04:13

I wasn't as young as MummySanta but not much older .. and my dad was too much of a cheapskate to pay for airlines like BA, that had a proper Unaccompanied Minors programme. So we were sent long haul to the States on budget airlines in the 80s - no-one told my mum we needed to have cash to buy food so we basically had nothing in an 8 hour flight. I seem to recall we didn't even have the 50p to rent headphones. It was beyond grim and I don't think my brother will ever fly long haul now - and neither of us would ever send our children as UMs but I should stress this is because of our lousy experience, not because I think there's anything wrong with the programme. I would spend the whole time imagining some of the horrible flights we had.

I would personally go with BA but you're right, there doesn't seem to be much info comparing what the service is like for the children, which is surely the main point.

Notsurehow Sun 22-Dec-13 17:12:50

Oh Tribpot...how awful for you!

She will have money and a case full of presents to open on the way,comfy pillow and her itouch so am sure she will be fine.

I know airlines don't want to encourage unaccompanied Minors but the lack of information out there is minimal.

Mary1972 Sun 22-Dec-13 17:16:41

I saw three on one flight - cannot remember which one now. On the plane the staff (BA?) made them all sit together which was sensible and other passengers near them looked out for them too.

There was a case of soeone in the press recently whose child was not accompanied and the boy actually left the plane alone and went missing in the terminal. He called his father who was expecting him and they made a search and found him. The airline had let them down.

goinggreyagain Sun 22-Dec-13 17:23:26

That is a long trip for an 8yr old, most major airlines have a good program but there are just too many what ifs for that kind of flight. What happens if there is a missed connection or a detour.

tribpot Sun 22-Dec-13 17:49:22

Notsurehow, I appreciate you wouldn't be sending her off in the no-frills manner of 80s budget airlines smile

Notsurehow Sun 22-Dec-13 18:23:07

Goinggreyagaian.this is why I want to use the airline with the best program for UMs and the flight that has only one refuelling stop,no exiting the plane. I could create "What ifs" for almost every situation she faces in life ;)

She is desperate to go,it is not me forcing her....

octopusinasantasack Sun 22-Dec-13 18:26:16

At that age I think it's far too young. There is no way mine would have been allowed to do that at that age, UM service or not.
I know somebody who has used it for two children about that age and he's always been pleased with the service - he's used either BA or AA. I think it's a bit different for two children flying together than one on their own.

octopusinasantasack Sun 22-Dec-13 18:27:35

OP this might help

http://www.virginaustralia.com/au/en/plan/special-needs-assistance/children-travelling-alone/

goinggreyagain Sun 22-Dec-13 20:34:58

Sorry OP my DH works in the airline industry, that is where my "what ifs " come from.

Notsurehow Mon 23-Dec-13 00:44:18

Interesting reading Octopus....they sound switched on,sadly,Virgin UK don't seem to have the same level of info.

Goinggrey...I work in the medical field and trust me...I am very aware of what ifs and the far greater risk of dangers relating to everyday lives....

LEMoncehadacatcalledSANTA Mon 23-Dec-13 00:49:48

People do this? Fuck me - I wouldnt let my dd on the bus on her own let alone a plane. What if she gets distressed/ sick/ scared?

LEMoncehadacatcalledSANTA Mon 23-Dec-13 00:58:05

I travelled to Australia with my mum when I was 11. There was some sort of industrial action at singapore. I remember being put up ina posh hotelee were there for two days. Was a bit scary but exciting - because I was with my mother. By the time you have paid all the extras you may as well fly with her.

LEMoncehadacatcalledSANTA Mon 23-Dec-13 01:00:41

Risk assessments take into account the likelihood an event. I should imagine that the risk of distressed child whilst not that severe would be high.

wonkylegs Mon 23-Dec-13 01:01:17

No direct experience i'm afraid but we fly through Amsterdam Schipol airport a lot and they have a special lounge for UM using KLM flights. kLM
I've always been impressed by how they look after kids, a lot of whom are on long transfers (lots of Americans, Far East & Africa)
I've had some seated near me when I've travelled too and I was impressed by their behaviour and how they were looked after although I got the feeling that several of the kids on my last flight did them fairly regularly (diplomatic parents, school abroad and divorced parents)

goinggreyagain Mon 23-Dec-13 02:18:33

Fair enough OP but you didn't ask about everyday lives.. you asked about putting an 8yr old on a long haul flight by herself. For us flight delays, diverts, passengers getting sick etc are all part of flying. I was just trying to warn you of the things that can and do happen every day not just the ones that make the newspaper.

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