10 year old flying solo (London / Chicago) in summer

(44 Posts)
Strix Fri 29-Mar-13 13:08:56

So, it's the first time for her to fly on her own. Does anyone have any tips? Airline recommendations? Anything else I should be thinking about?

She is going to visit family, so won't really be on her own. She has dual citizenship so no visa issues.

Oh... Travel insurance... I guess she needs this. Any suggestions?

specialsubject Fri 29-Mar-13 13:35:27

if you 'guess' she needs travel insurance it doesn't look good for either of you...

airlines can help with unaccompanied minors. contact them.

Not all airlines will take unaccompanied minors. Some have additional forms to fill in etc. check with the airline before you book the flight.

Longdistance Fri 29-Mar-13 13:40:19

BA do unaccompanied minors. A really good system in place too.
Travel insurance would be good as health care isn't free in the US.
The films should keep her entertained, and if its a night flight she'll probably want to sleep anyway.

Strix Fri 29-Mar-13 14:31:43

I'm aware of the BA scheme, thanks. I was just wondering if anyone had any personal recommendation of good airlines. Price is also a factor.

Yes, I am American, and so familiar with the private medical system.

CydCharisse Fri 29-Mar-13 14:49:19

You'll struggle to find travel insurance which will cover your child as your dependent when you are not present; and minors cannot be insured in their own right. The only company I have found which will do this is Insure and Go.

If she is travelling as an unaccompanied minor you will complete all the necessary details on the airline's own paperwork, but I always feel that a letter 'to whom it may concern' detailing the journey, her details, your details and the details of those who are meeting her would never go amiss. My DS carries such a letter now he travels alone (not as an UM) and found it useful when an immigration officer got a bit carried away with his questions.

HTH

Strix Mon 08-Apr-13 13:12:40

Does anyone have any experience of sending a minor to the states for the summer?

(I realise I may need a new thread title to attract the right responses here)

I sent my ds aged five to Canada for a month. I was heartbroken but he was going to stay with his dad and gps. He survived! its only seven hours and they have films and they are very well looked after. I send ds with Air Canada they were great. Don't know if they fly to US though. Although I will never forget the apoplexy of someone in the check in cue who objected very loudly to me and then airport staff that we were queue jumping! UM are always checked in immediately they arrive as they are all collected up to be escorted to the plane together if possible. I was shaking so much with fury! Luckily a lovely official told him off and made him go back in line.

Anecdote aside US border control very hot on checking that dcs have permission from both parents so I would call the consulate to see what documents they need.

special, I think your post was rather unhelpful. And rude. And makes it look like you can't actually read a post properly. This is not AIBU.

Strix Mon 08-Apr-13 13:59:48

Thanks Madame. Yes, I'm going to struggle a bit without her for four weeks. But she has lots of cousins, aunts/uncles, and grandparents whom she almost never sees. So we are maximising the return on the price of a plane ticket.

I will send her with all of the paperwork I can think of, including signatures from both parents. But, she will be carrying a US passport so I don't expect her to have any trouble at border control.

So I shall put Air Canada on the list... is your son a Canadian citizen?

Viviennemary Mon 08-Apr-13 14:02:49

I don't think I would be very happy with a 10 year old flying alone. But I suppose if she doesn't have to change flights and nothing goes wrong it should be OK. But I wouldn't do it.

Not as yet. He flew on his British passport. but the airline had all the paperwork sorted so he just waltzed through customs accompanied and was handed over to dad who was waiting with his ID etc. Lucky I gave ds eps surname...exp very latino (half filiippino) and ds blond blue eyed anglo saxon little boy...

vivienne, it really is fine. they are waited on hand and foot, spoilt rotten and its a real adventure.

sannaville Mon 08-Apr-13 14:11:12

I flew alone at 9 only from Scotland to Gatwick but I remember it being a real adventure!

Strix Mon 08-Apr-13 15:31:40

10 year old has been well involved in the decision. We tarted talking about it a couple of years ago. Then, she wanted to go but only if I was going too. This year, she is quite happy to lave me behind... hmm.

She will have a great time getting to know cousins and friends she would otherwise grow up not knowing. And that would be worse in my opinion. She is a pretty independant kid. I asked her if she was going to miss me and she sid "Yeah, I'll miss you muumy. But I'm not gonna like sit in the corner crying about." And then rolled her eyes and laughed. So, I think she is ready now...

DS (aged 7, almost 8) is needy mama's boy and so he is not going.

Strix Mon 08-Apr-13 15:32:57

So we just need a plane ticket and health insurance.

No strix, you need to contact both the airline and the consulate to make sure you know what documentation they require to allow dd to travel.

Strix Mon 08-Apr-13 16:39:59

Why do I need to contact the consulate? She is a US Citizen. Have aI missed something?

US border officials are extremely vigilant especially regarding children and UM. to be on the safe side you need to ask. Yes she is a US citizen but that does not mean she has permission to travel. is about child abduction.

The US border between Canada refused exp and ds entry even though he had same surname as ds because he had no written permission from me for him to travel. You don't want her to get caught in some bureacracy hell. Just double check. The airline you choose will also advise as they will be the ones handling the documentation to get dd through border control.

I see that you have said you will provide two signatory document stating permission, but would be worth including her birth certificate and proof of residency in uk...there is always the return flight to think about.

NatashaBee Mon 08-Apr-13 16:49:44

DSD has flown Delta and Southwest as a UM regularly, although internal. Delta also fly internationally so they would be a possibility to fly her on, they were excellent with DSD. Most airlines will not allow UMs to make stopovers (some have special lounges for UMs to wait in during stopovers) so you'd need to find a direct flight. You will be able to go all the way through security with her and wait at the gate, whoever's collecting her will be able to go all the way through the gate at the other end. So you or the adult collecting her will be able to speak with the immigration officials and answer any questions they may have.

There is usually an extra charge for flying the child as a UM, and you may need to call them to request it and make the booking rather than just doing it online.

Strix Mon 08-Apr-13 16:53:40

Its okay. Just making sure I haven't missed anything. I have also asked my sister, who will be collecting her at the airport, to send me a photo copy of her identification so DD can have paperworks and signed instruction from me identifying the person to who she should be turned over. I may also include my marriage certificate so that they can see my maiden name is the same as my sister's current surname.

God information here, thank you.

Oh, she is also a UK citizen so I expect her to be let back in here as well. She has to take both because she has to leave and re-enter the uk on her UK passport. And she has to enter and leave the US on her US passport. (I learned this one once when I shipped her UK passport through and handed UK border control her US passport on departure. They were not happy with me!)

Both BA and Virgin fly to Chicago O'Hare; would suggest you use one of these carriers for your DD. Would use one of these in preference to a US based carrier.

Air Canada do not fly direct to any US city from the UK.

givemeaclue Mon 08-Apr-13 18:55:47

Used to fly as ums all the time as kids between parents, we were in the junior jet club and had a logbook for the captain to sign each flight and a special gold winged brooch to wear each flight

LadyMountbatten Mon 08-Apr-13 18:57:33

I flew every term alone as a ten year old.

Strix Tue 09-Apr-13 11:43:35

Why the preference for a UK based carrier?

Well because US based carriers are not generally great in terms of overall service to passengers.

Agreed Atilla. We came back from Ottawa via Chicago on Delta Airlines and they were really unhelpful. Ds was six months at the time. we not not allowed to book any onward seats from the US as we were transfers but were assured we would get preference. once in Chicago boarding staff refused to even see if the bulkhead seats were available. On boarding I was given a seat in the middle of a row (with squirming 6 month old), exp six rows away. Hell for everyone. I'm afraid I had a meltdown and we got moved up. And on the way out we were stuck at chicago for five hours with no info on when our onward plane would actually arrive, let alone take off! and we were not allowed to leave the transfer area so no tea or coffee or snacks. bah.

grhh.

Strix Tue 09-Apr-13 15:46:43

Right, well that pretty much takes my research down to to two phone calls: one to BA and one to Virgin.

I'm surprised because American customer service is usually better than most. But I will heed you words of experience and call upon the locals.

Thank you.

MooseBeTimeForCoffee Tue 09-Apr-13 15:54:21

If you fly with Virgin you have to use a travel agent or contact their reservations department. You can't arrange a UM service online.

Strix Tue 09-Apr-13 16:26:49

Yeah, the same is true with BA.

Munashe Tue 09-Apr-13 19:43:01

UM service is very easy and not as complicated as it sounds. My DD has has had many trips as UM and normally the staff are very good with them. Where there are connecting flights she is normally in the first class lounge and get to eat and have a wonder and stretch her legs.

Don't worry about the experience, just make sure you have all the relevant paperwork. UM service can even be bought on the day of departure at the airport. Its a fixed fee and so doesn't make a diff booking it ahead or on the day.

Agree American Airlines are rubbish. Give me BA or Virgin anytime. Gosh last time I flew with an American airline, its like Rynair on a long jet flight. I had to pay for headphones....If you book BA make sure its not a code share flight with AA.

MooseBeTimeForCoffee Tue 09-Apr-13 19:44:24

I think you'll need a Notarised letter, signed by both parents, consenting to the trip.

Munashe Tue 09-Apr-13 19:44:48

Damn didn't mean she travels first class, well she will be in cattle class but gets put in the first class departure lounge before boarding next plane.

Bunbaker Tue 09-Apr-13 19:48:41

"Air Canada do not fly direct to any US city from the UK."

That is because national airlines have to originate or end in their country of origin.

Strix Tue 09-Apr-13 21:02:31

Lots of good stuff here. Thanks.

SoldeInvierno Wed 10-Apr-13 17:21:50

my DS (9) is travelling as UM short haul this summer. I booked on the phone with BA. They asked me for his passport details, mine and those of the person picking him up. They've also sent me a few form to fill in, but overall the booking was very easy. I have 2 friends who work for BA and have explained to me how the whole thing works. It looks very safe and a real adventure for the kids.

sashh Thu 11-Apr-13 08:39:39

Had a friend whose children went out to Canada with gran and flew home alone. Gran took them all in order of age from age 10.

I know they had to have a list of three people who could collect them in case the original colectee (is that a word) couldn't make it.

The airlines tend to stick UM together she she should have someone her own age to talk to.

Airhostie87 Sat 13-Apr-13 00:23:03

Come fly with Virgin! Unaccompanied minors all the time and 10 is almost an old hand to us! I've had 5 year olds flying between parents. One cheeky one recently told me he always flew upper class! wink Just get all the documents you need and contact the airline with any questions. There is a whole section on the Virgin website about unaccompanied minors. Although as crew we will be busy there will always be someone with a eye on them. They get off the plane last and one of the crew will escort them to the door and the onboard manager will hand them over with the passport to the ground agents who will escort them through immigration, get their bags and hand them over to the appointed guardian. easy peasy!

I started travelling on my own from London to the US when I was five, to visit my parents, and then flew there regularly at least once or twice a year from the age of seven onwards.

My best tip would be to pay extra for a direct flight. Stopovers aren't much fun when you're a child travelling on your own.

Strix Tue 16-Apr-13 17:02:58

Thank you!

sashh Thu 18-Apr-13 12:46:53

One cheeky one recently told me he always flew upper class

he or she will go far

Strix Wed 24-Jul-13 16:09:59

So, I thought I'd come back with an update. DD flew to Chicago yesterday. We went with Virgin Atlantic out of Heathrow. They were considerably cheaper than BA. Excellent service. Friendly, helpful, I recommend them.

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