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Children flying alone

(19 Posts)
smallisland Wed 08-Dec-10 13:04:10

My DD's are 4 and 6 yrs. We live away from the UK but only about 1hr flight away. My MIL has an expectation that we should let our duaghters fly alone to visit her in the UK. I am horrified at this suggestion.

My DD's are not confident on planes and the thought of them being alone with a stranger (cabin crew chaperone) who may distracted at any given moment fills me with utter dread. Also flights to and from where we live are often delayed or cancelled.

Am I being unreasonable in refusing to let my small children fly alone?

I have taken them over and dropped them off to stay with her while I go and stay with friends or family but she seems hell bent on them travelling alone ( I think she sees this as giving me a break). My MIL thinks that I am being controlling.

My husband and I just think we are being a good and caring parents! confused

Any constructive comments are gladly welcome

Thanks

TigerFeet Wed 08-Dec-10 13:07:30

I flew as an unaccompanied minor with a chaperone when I was 11, there were other children much younger than me that did it and seemed fine

That said, there is no way I'd let my owbn 6yo do it, stick to your guns, I think you're being sensible and if you don't mind accompanying your dc's then your mil shoudl butt out and let you get on with it without comment

MollieO Wed 08-Dec-10 13:08:30

I don't think any airline would allow a 4 yr old to fly unaccompanied. BA have a limit of 5. If your MIL wants them to visit and you can't take them why doesn't she come and collect them?

Personally I wouldn't let children that age travel alone especially if they aren't confident. I would probably let my 6 yr old ds travel unaccompanied but he is very very confident and has flown loads. Even then I would only do it if there was no other choice.

GoAwaySnow Wed 08-Dec-10 13:08:49

I know friends who have just started letting their boys do it on Air France from City but they are 12 and 8, so much older. No way would I let children of 4 and 6 fly alone.

13lucky Wed 08-Dec-10 14:29:00

No way in the whole world would I, no.

tillymama Wed 08-Dec-10 14:32:26

I would not consider letting children of that age travel alone.

scurryfunge Wed 08-Dec-10 14:35:06

Too young -my DS has done it from the age of 11 but we try to use City Airport where there is less chance of getting lost.

nancydrewrockinaroundxmastree Wed 08-Dec-10 14:39:15

Very much depends on you and your children and has to be your own decision. Very few airlines will take a 4 year old unaccompanied (I think BA will let a 5 year old go if they have an older sibbling also flying as an unacompanied minor)

My DC are 4&5 and I cannot wait until they are 5&6 so they can fly alone shock grin . But they have flown many many times and are confident when together. I would never make them do it if they weren't keen.

Plenty of people I know do allow very young children to fly unaccompanied but an equal number think it is craziness. Don't be pushed either way.

HopeForTheJingleBells Wed 08-Dec-10 14:41:48

Well, they aren't alone, they have to be chaperoned the whole way, don't they? Ground/airport staff up to the plane, then on-plane staff, then airport staff again.

The point I think is whether they would feel confident doing it or not, and if they wouldn't then no, you shouldn't let them.

I did it at about 12, I think, with my 6yo dsis, and that was unaccompanied.
We also did cross-Europe coach journeys from when I was about 16 I think, and that was a lot more "scary" - nobody watching out for you, and a surprising number of unscheduled stops and coach changes that nobody ever mentioned beforehand. I remember one time we were thrown out at 3am in Munich and had to hang around the coach station hoping there really would be another coach to take us further.

Ah, good times

SuchProspects Wed 08-Dec-10 18:04:01

If your DCs aren't comfortable flying and you don't need or want to send them unaccompanied then I wouldn't do it.

I was 7 when I first flew unaccompanied (with my 8 year old brother). The journey was fun and I gained quite a bit of confidence from it, so I think it's a good thing in general. But 4 does sound pretty young. I would think you'd want kids who were capable of (and happy) sitting in a chair and amusing themselves for the length of the flight without someone reminding them they shouldn't be getting up and running down the aisle grin.

Flying unaccompanied is incredibly safe, your DCs would make it to their destination just fine, but if they aren't keen on flying they won't necessarily enjoy it. And by the sounds of it, you wouldn't enjoy it either.

Tweetinat Wed 08-Dec-10 21:04:50

I first flew unaccompanied with Air France when I was 3 and did my first unaccompanied trip to the US when I was 6. I vividly remember these trips and absoluely LOVED it - they are some of my favourite childhood memories I would have no hesitation doing it with my DS if he was that age, especially for an hours journey. But, it would be on my terms - if I felt under pressure to do so then I would perhaps feel differently.

NightFury Wed 08-Dec-10 21:09:31

DD has frequently flown alone (7 yo) and has loved it. I would not have sent her when she was younger. We have had a bad experience once due to incompetent check in staff but overall our experiences have been good. Do much depends on the child and their character.

One thing I would say though is, that if you go ahead, print off the terms and conditions from the website and take it with you when you check in to ensure that an incompetent person at the check in does not make a mistake!!!

<<speaks voice of bitter experience>>

tiredemma Wed 08-Dec-10 21:13:45

My 7 and 9 year old flew Heathrow to Geneva as Unaccompanied Minors with SwissAir in July. They loved it. Will be using the service again next summer. They were very well looked after.

Tolalola Wed 08-Dec-10 21:22:37

No, I wouldn't. I travelled alone regularly from the age of 10 (20+ hours door-to-door transatlantic with an airline change).

I was extremely used to travelling and was pretty confident about it but I still remember that the airline chaperones were, ahem, not exactly attentive a lot of the time.

I remember vividly one time when some seedy-looking middle-aged man turned up to the 'Unaccompanied Minor' place at Heathrow to get me. The airline person looked a bit doubtful and asked if I knew him, I said no, the bloke said he was from a taxi company, and they just shrugged and let him take me without asking to see any paperwork or phoning to check or anything (hasten to add that he was from the school taxi grin).

No way would I let a 4 year old travel alone. We got left to our own devices an awful lot.

LiegeAndLief Thu 09-Dec-10 12:39:04

I travelled a lot as an unaccompanied minor from the age of 11 and currently have a 4 year old ds. There is no way on earth I would let him go unaccompanied and I think he would be terrified. Not sure about 6 as he is my oldest dc but I expect I would feel the same!

wannabeglam Thu 09-Dec-10 13:14:35

I think you have answered your own question and should have confidence in your instincts. Nevermind the MIL.

Chaperones don't sit with the children on the plane from my experience (a long time ago). They deliver them and pick them up from the plane and the cabin crew on board are as attentive as possible.

They are very young. I think it's madness. When I read things like this I thank God I have a hands off MIL (unless she's called upon).

Ignore your MIL now and in the future if she comes up with ideas that go contrary to your way of bringing up your children. She's had her time as a mother, this is your time.

Offensive descriptions of yourself such as 'controlling' should be treated with the contempt they deserve. Thankfully your DH and you are of the same opinion.

ToysRLuv Fri 10-Dec-10 10:52:40

I first travelled alone probably when I was around 5 years old. No problems at all. Always loved flying, but it could also have been that the service was a bit better back then (early 80's) on the proper airlines (no Easyjet etc.). Got a free pack with crayons, toys, etc.

ToysRLuv Fri 10-Dec-10 10:55:39

And the flight (to Greece) had a change of planes in Vienna. Never remember being at all worried. The chaperones were always great.

smallisland Fri 10-Dec-10 15:42:44

Thanks for all your comments they are really helpful. It is interesting to hear different experiences and opinions.

On balance I still personally feel that at 4 and 6 my DD's are far too young to be flying, alone or with a chaperone. I will review it when they are a bit older.

Thanks for your help

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