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to let my 13 year old take a 12 hour flight alone

(127 Posts)
caffelatte100 Wed 11-Oct-17 21:17:43

My 13 year old DS is booked to take a flight from Europe to Asia to stay with a grandparent for his half term holiday. We will take him to passport and then he will be met by grandparent the other side. It is a direct flight with no changes. Just to be clear, he will not an accompanied child (e.g. he will do it all alone with no assistance) and he will have to collect his suitcase. He's flown a lot, travels independently on trains and buses by himself everyday in the country where we live.

I was feeling confident that he can manage it really well and that this would be a really exciting trip for him, enriching for both him and his grandparents who also have lots of great things planned for him. However, when I was telling a friend about this today she couldn't believe that I would let him fly alone and almost accused me of being reckless in my decision. She also told me that other airlines don't let kids fly alone until they are older and that this must be for a reason. He's flown lots of times, speaks the local lingos, is confident and could ask for help if he needed it and he looks after his things. The only thing that I am nervous is the small possibility that he might become ill on the flight. AIBU to let him do this? Do you have any last minute advice I can give him?

CuteOrangeElephant Wed 11-Oct-17 21:19:34

Definitely check with the airlines. 14 is the minimum with KLM for instance.

Santawontbelong Wed 11-Oct-17 21:20:11

My ds 13 would be over the moon to have such an adventure!!

Poorlybabe4 Wed 11-Oct-17 21:20:49

Only you know if he is capable or not. I regularly looked after and cooked for siblings at that age. He only has to think of himself and sit on the plane. If he is happy i would say it ia fine. Just let the flight attendants aware if him at the gate. Can he call you when the plane lands? When hes collected his bag and then when he is with grand parents?

5rivers7hills Wed 11-Oct-17 21:21:28

Depends on the child doesn’t it - as long as he has a mobile and knows wh a time to do eh in case of delay or cancellation or if his bag isn’t lost etc

Shesaysso Wed 11-Oct-17 21:21:42

In theory it's straight forward but I wouldn't anything could happen, and he's still a child. Get him accompanied.

mishfish Wed 11-Oct-17 21:21:54

I agree to double check with the airline to age and give a flight attendant a heads up.

From what you have described though I would have absolutely no issue provided the airline would take him an the attendants are aware

Gammeldragz Wed 11-Oct-17 21:23:46

You know him. 13 year olds vary widely in what they are capable of, yours sounds very capable in this situation. Do check with the airline if you haven't already (probably have).

caffelatte100 Wed 11-Oct-17 21:24:22

I just double checked the ages and it's fine, even 12 year olds can travel alone with this airline.
The accompanied service for minors is at request for children aged 12 - 17 years old.

Awwlookatmybabyspider Wed 11-Oct-17 21:27:38

I wouldn't. Heaven forbid but what if something went wrong.
Hope I've not upset you, but You did ask.

scrabbler3 Wed 11-Oct-17 21:28:18

I would not have been fine at 13 but both my kids would.

I know kids from "international" families who regard plane journeys in the same way as bus journeys because they're second nature.

I know a 12 year old who doesn't walk to school alone because his mum doesn't trust him.

It all depends, in other words.

LoniceraJaponica Wed 11-Oct-17 21:28:33

There is no way at 13 that DD would have had the confidence to fly alone.

I assume he has flown before and knows his way around the departure airport, knows to check the screens, knows to listen out for announcements, has the confidence to ask for help from airport workers? Would he know what to do if there was a delay or change to the itinerary?

Magicnumbers Wed 11-Oct-17 21:30:32

I flew unaccompanied to the US aged 12 in similar circumstances (relative each side), but that was years ago. It was a huge confidence boost and the airline staff were great in helping to shepherd me safely across the airports.

Might be worth checking with the airline...but my parents were not neglectful or reckless, and nor are you OP. Sounds like you've done a great job to develop your DC into such a capable young person x

OrlandaFuriosa Wed 11-Oct-17 21:30:42

Give him instructions of what to do in an emergency and in case arrangements don't work out the other end, give him a letter from you that states he is flying with your permission and note an emergency number to call, who is going to pick him up, tell him on threat of blood for breakfast to keep them with the emergency £10 and ticket and passport, then send him on his way. My generation of boarding school kids was flying all over the world, not being unaccompanied minors, just minors, from 12. Easy peasy. If there had been complex changes, diff types of transport to get between airports, I might have said differently, but with a direct flight? He'll be fine.

OrlandaFuriosa Wed 11-Oct-17 21:31:46

Yup, honestly, airport no diff from rail terminus, actually darn sight safer.

CMOTDibbler Wed 11-Oct-17 21:32:56

My colleagues 11 year old dd does this - she's been flying to see her dad on another continent since she was 4, and now goes without supervision by her request. If your ds is also a confident flyer, then I don't see an issue

Magicnumbers Wed 11-Oct-17 21:33:30

Ps- I had to cope with luggage going missing on one leg. I coped, it was fine, and to this day very little can faze me when travelling!

whiteroseredrose Wed 11-Oct-17 21:33:49

Depends on your DC. At that age I would have let DS as he's always loved independence. DD wouldn't want to now and she's 14.

HellonHeels Wed 11-Oct-17 21:34:14

How will he cope with a long flight delay that's only announced after he's through security? A gate change? Being bumped from the flight/denied boarding? Getting through passport control alone at the other end? His baggage going missing?

Sorry to look at the negatives but best to think them through.

zzzzz Wed 11-Oct-17 21:34:36

I did long haul alone at 12. It was fine.

caffelatte100 Wed 11-Oct-17 21:36:37

Thanks everyone, for your advice! I feel more reassured now, there's some great tips here for the last minute preparation.

I didn't take the decision lightly to let him fly alone and I definitely wouldn't have let him do so if he had to change planes. I do think that he can manage it, even if something doesn't go quite right and so we should all be set... phew!

Fattychan123 Wed 11-Oct-17 21:38:30

Tbh someone said earlier they wouldn't let their 13 year old use a lawn mower, the worlds gone mad. But yes at 13 I would have been fine to do this so why not.

blue25 Wed 11-Oct-17 21:40:20

I'd be worried he might be ill/get sick during turbulence. Personally, I wouldn't want to be sat next to an unaccompanied child on a flight.

Llanali Wed 11-Oct-17 21:40:31

Yep, I would, and did myself then.

My 14 year old sister and I, when I was 7, flew several times to Asia and back unaccompanied. Those were the 90s though. And included flight changes in major cities.

UmmKultum Wed 11-Oct-17 21:41:21

My kids have flown alone on trans Atlantic flights at 6 and 9 and they loved it. Even though my now 13 year old has flown a lot, I'd use the unaccompanied minors service. It will take a lot of the stress off them - at heathrow, BA even have a special kids lounge with games, movies etc. My kids thought it was amazing! And then they get accompanied to the plane through immigration (no waiting in queues) and the cabin crew are made aware that there are unaccompanied children aboard and so look out for them. Then on landing, they're accompanied through all the hoops and to pick up luggage and delivered to waiting adult. Honestly, if they had that service for adults I'd take it smile. My kids nostlagically recall breezing through security while stuck with us in a long queue!

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