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aibu to let kids travel unaccompanied?

(74 Posts)
loopyluna Mon 24-Mar-14 13:12:54

Travel plans for summer involve; DS (14) and DD (12) taking an international (2 hour) flight. As "unaccompanied minors" they will be looked after by cabin crew from us leaving them to friends picking them up. Their return flight will be with 2 same age friends, so same thing.

Also, DS and his friend (also 14) will be taking a 3 hour train journey within the UK. (They'll be waved off and collected from the platform at each end.)

The kids are all fine with this and are v excited about all the jet setting involved. My DM thinks they are too young, particularly for the train, and has set my worry mode off. AIBU to let them travel like this? I'm sure I was taking the train alone at 14 but DM denies all knowledge!

lottieandmia Mon 24-Mar-14 13:14:05

It sounds fine to me.

lottieandmia Mon 24-Mar-14 13:15:21

I definitely remember travelling on trains at 14. You know your children and it sounds like everything has been arranged properly.

throckenholt Mon 24-Mar-14 13:15:30

I think I would be happy with mine doing that at that age - as long as they know to ask the guard or flight staff for help if they get confused.
Assuming there are no train changes that they can get wrong, and they will be met at the other end.

LemonBreeland Mon 24-Mar-14 13:16:18

YANBU, my DB and I travelled a similar way at the same ages. Ignore your DM, they always seem to get super cautious as Grannys.

TheTerribleBaroness Mon 24-Mar-14 13:16:44

I did things like that at 14. It was fine. <shrugs>

Meow75 Mon 24-Mar-14 13:16:46

Sounds cool to me too. When does your mother think they WILL be old enough?!

Put this off now when they've companions to travel with and the next time when they might have to be alone will be more difficult.

NigellasDealer Mon 24-Mar-14 13:16:56

12 and 14 is fine, honestly children are so mollycoddled these days.

starkadder Mon 24-Mar-14 13:17:05

I went youth hosteling for a week with a friend (no adults) at that age. No problem.

Abra1d Mon 24-Mar-14 13:19:29

Mine have done this from about this age. Daughter travelled to France at 13 by plane alone, with no supervision from aircrew. Son, 15, travelled to Scotland by train alone.

soontobeslendergirl Mon 24-Mar-14 13:20:02

yup, I used to do similar train journey - one that involved not only a change of train, but a change of station across a city, on my own, at a similar age. And that was in the days without mobile phones.

It all sounds fine to me. My two are 13 and 12 and I think i'd be fine with them doing that, my main concern is that they would start to niggle at each other and have a fight!

morethanpotatoprints Mon 24-Mar-14 13:20:47

I didn't know you could book cabin crew to mind children.
I thought they had other things to do.

Personally, I wouldn't let mine travel at this age, far too young.
I'd be far more worried about the flight than the train, but its up to you.

Only you know if you are happy with it and if you are, don't bother what others say.

pettybetty Mon 24-Mar-14 13:21:20

If you are then I am too as mine have had to travel 10 hour flights once or twice per year from when the oldest was 11, as they had to visit their father and I couldn't take them. I have felt shitty about it sometimes and there is always a level of anxiety but they love it, and its the only way to maintain a relationship with their dad, so...

akachan Mon 24-Mar-14 13:21:48

I'm amazed anyone would think 14 was too young to get a train alone.

loopyluna Mon 24-Mar-14 13:22:26

Abra1d -do you remember the airline your DD travelled with? We have 3 flights planned altogether -the air france ones automatically give supervision but ryan air and easy jet ones will only take them unaccompanied from 14. (The two friends are doing that as both will have just turned 14 but my DD is only 12 so no good for her...)

pettybetty Mon 24-Mar-14 13:23:07

They also travel unaccompanied minors, which means that they are looked after at every stage of the travel process until handed back to a named relative - it doesn't actually mean they are unaccompanied. It's a paid for service.

AlpacaLypse Mon 24-Mar-14 13:23:40

Have you already checked that cabin crew will be ok about this?

A friend's daughter (age 14) last year had to pretend she was with a random family they found in the check-in queue with Ryanair, as they won't take unaccompanied minors (under 16).

AlpacaLypse Mon 24-Mar-14 13:24:00


NigellasDealer Mon 24-Mar-14 13:24:22

"far too young" shock really?

Lilicat1013 Mon 24-Mar-14 13:26:43

It seems fine, just make sure they have an idea of what to do if the journey doesn't go to plan. I was once on a train straight through from Plymouth to Portsmouth that they decided had to be discontinued.

The passengers were left at some out of the way station and told that some of them would be able to get on the next train to Portsmouth but the rest would have to take a train to London, transfer by tube and they get a train from London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour. There was two girls who were about thirteen and they were terrified about going across London. They had been put on the train by one girl's mum in Plymouth and were supposed to be met from it by her dad in Portsmouth.

When it was announced the next Portsmouth train would only fit half the stranded passengers one of the girls was in tears. She had no phone number for her dad and no phone (this was a while ago!). I ended up sort of taking charge of them and telling them if they didn't make it on to the next train I would get off with them and take them home via London.

Fortunately I was just trying to help them out and being I was only eighteen myself and female there was a high probability I wasn't some nutty with dodgy intentions but I got the feeling they were so panicked they would have gone off with anyone offering to help.

It should be easier now with phones and I believe airlines take good care of unaccompanied children but it would be a good idea to go through scenarios of what to do if things don't go to plan ahead of time.

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 24-Mar-14 13:26:47

I send my 10year old DD as unaccompanied minor to family in another UK location that requires a change of plane. She loves it, they have good arrangements to ensure security of pick ups etc. one leg of the flight is on a very small plane, on one occasion it was DD, the air hostess, captain and co-pilot. DD had the best time on that flight!

loopyluna Mon 24-Mar-14 13:27:56

Air France take them as "unaccompanied minors". Obviously we had to fill in their date of birth when booking and were given a price band according to their age.
Budget airlines don't do this. Ryan air will only take the over 16 and Easyjet over 14.

NigellasGuest Mon 24-Mar-14 13:28:11

safer on plane than train, but even so, my DD travelled regularly into London on train, around London on tube, and back out again on train after dark at age 14. Alone.

DrSeuss Mon 24-Mar-14 13:29:29

If anything, modern technology makes it safer. If they have a mobile, they are seconds away from contacting you should there be a problem. Sounds like a sensible plan to me, practical and actually beneficial to their development. In two years time they may have to be at work or travel to college. In four they may be at university.

loopyluna Mon 24-Mar-14 13:33:24

Lilicat1013 -thanks for the anecdote. I will definitely organise an emergency planning meeting with the 4 of them before going and get the friends' parents to go through it all again before they head home!
The boys both have phones so will make sure they are charged, switched on and accessible before getting on the train.
DS is extremely immature nearly all the time, but amazingly rises to the occasion when given responsibility and I know he will be watching out to not miss the stop/ lose his ticket/ get lost going to the loo etc. None of them ever go to the school loos so I doubt they'll need to on the train anyway!

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