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To allow my 11 year old to travel to USA alone ?

78 replies

Finallyspring · 23/05/2011 13:49

My DS has had a really good friend since they were 3 years old. I am good friends with his parents too, but this friendship was not engineered by us. It has been a really strong bond made by the two of them.

Sadly the family have recently moved to the US where the boy's father comes from. This was extremely hard for the two boys and my DS really hasn't been happy since. We have discussed my DS going to stay with them ever since the move was planned and I have always agreed it would be a good idea, but never made any firm plans. Now the other family and my DS are really pushing for him to come this summer.

Last night my DH and I agreed he should wait until next year and told him this. He became quite distraught, vomited and cried for hours and hours. This really is not usual behaviour for him.

This morning I had a good think about when he could go next year. However, there are no school holidays which coincide until next August and this does seem like a long time to wait. I then called the airline and found out that if he goes now he would have a chaperone for the whole journey. It is a non stop flight. He would be looked after like a member of the family ( I love and trust the parents ) and he would be staying in a safe and rural area.Not only that but I was given a discount for some reason and it turned out to be cheaper than I was expecting. If we leave it until next year I wonder if it would be hard for the boy to accommodate DS with his new life and friends. So, now I am thinking we should let him go this summer.

AIBU to do this ? He is (usually) a stable and secure child who has gone on school trips and sleepovers without a backward glance but it just seems a bit weird to let your child travel a whole continent away. DH and I can't go with him for various work/family reasons. His brother flew to France by himself at the same age and it was fine, but the USA just seems so far.

OP posts:
knittedbreast · 23/05/2011 13:52

why not, not much can go wrong on the plane and hel be met straight away at the other end. plus he will really thank you for trusting him and remember it forever

aldiwhore · 23/05/2011 13:54

If you are happy with the arrangements for his safety and wellbeing then I think it would be an awesome trip for him, and one that he's ready for. Its horrible to miss your best mate....

A year seems like such a long time, and IS at age 11.

Is there any way YOU could go too? Just for the first time? I would look into that because I'd get to see my friends too!

I was a couple of years older when I moved away, and I can still see my best friend's face as we sobbed goodbye, I visited every year and we're now midd 30's and she was my bridesmaid, and I'm 'mate of honour' at her wedding in July. IF you are happy with the arrangements, and can afford for him to go, then I would say encourage it, the friendship is worth it.

Scary though, I can understand why you'd be torn. HE will be fine, will you?

soggybottomflancase · 23/05/2011 13:55

I agree with knittedbreast but you will be going back on what you said, will he see that as you giving in?

CareyFakes · 23/05/2011 13:56

I'd let him go. What an exciting trip for him! I was a confident and happy child at 11, and if you think he is then go for it. He'll have a ball on the plane etc.

goinggetstough · 23/05/2011 13:56

We have used unaccompanied minor services on flights and they have always been good. So don't worry about the flight. He wouldn't get lost at the airport either at the other end as the family would have to sign for him!!!
So as long as he is happy to be away from you, I presume he could skype you whilst he is away? I would let him go. Then the following year maybe his friend could visit you.

SarkyLady · 23/05/2011 13:56

If he is so keen to go then he's likely to relish the chance to behave like an adult.
I would let him go.

Finallyspring · 23/05/2011 13:56

Oh thanks aldiwhore that's a lovely about you and your friend and that's just what I would hope for my DS. I miss the family very much too but definitely can't go this summer.

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IloveJudgeJudy · 23/05/2011 13:57

I would let him go, especially as you say he is confident. The chaperones are really good. I let my DD12 travel on her own without a chaperone with British Airways, only to Germany, but they took very good care of her anyway.

Bue · 23/05/2011 13:58

It sounds like your son is totally ready for this. I know it seems far but honestly, not much can go wrong on a supervised, direct flight, whether it is to France or the USA!

Finallyspring · 23/05/2011 13:59

soggybottomflancase giving in to his outburst last night is one of my major reservations too. I don't want him to think vomiting will get you what you want ! On the other hand it think it was a sincerely distressed reaction so I'm torn

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bamboobutton · 23/05/2011 13:59

id let him go. my american nephew flew over to the uk on his own at 7 and he is doing it again this year at 8. everything was fine and he was looked after every step of the way.

FlubbaBubba · 23/05/2011 14:00

Yes, let him go! He'll love it and will be fine!

maxybrown · 23/05/2011 14:01

I would let him go. My niece flew to Australia at the same time with a chaperone all the way. She loved it - and she had never even stepped on a plane before that!

maxybrown · 23/05/2011 14:01

at the same age I meant, sorry Blush

Finallyspring · 23/05/2011 14:03

The family regularly skype us so yes I could actually see him everyday he is there. Also it is a rural area with lots of horses, which is the interest they both share. Thanks for all the reassuring responses. But, does anybody out there not think it is a bit irresponsible of me ? Trying to account for my mixed feelings

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soggybottomflancase · 23/05/2011 14:03

I was only joking really, but maybe you could say he can earn the trip by behaving like an absolute sweetheart for the next 3 months.

mrsbunnthebaker · 23/05/2011 14:04

Last night my DH and I agreed he should wait until next year and told him this. He became quite distraught, vomited and cried for hours and hours. This really is not usual behaviour for him.

if he cant handle being told no, i would hesitate about letting him go tbh

Gster · 23/05/2011 14:04

My parents put me and my brother on a flight from London - LA when I was about 6 and my brother 9 to visit our American relatives. We too had a chaparone.

We were looked after the whole way, from saying goodbye to our parents, to meeting our Uncle in LA.

It was awesome. Let him go.

maxybrown · 23/05/2011 14:04

I am not big for giving in AT ALL, BUT I do not feel it is giving in You can tell him his dad and you have had a chat and in fairness think it WOULD be a long time to wait until next year and that is why you have changed your mind............ especially if the out burst is not normal behaviour for him

FabbyChic · 23/05/2011 14:05

I think as he will be safe you should let him go, get him a quadband mobile so that he can text or ring you as soon as he lands, if the flight is non stop and he is chaperoned I cannot see the problem with it at all.

YOu take him to the airport this end, them at the other end, he only flies alone.

Finallyspring · 23/05/2011 14:05

soggybottomflancase yes have already mentally composed a list of things he has to do to justify the expense ( mow lawn etc.)

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maxybrown · 23/05/2011 14:05

also make it clear that whilst you know he does not normally react like that to situations, you do not expect to see it again either, especially if he is being trusted to do this.

unclefester77 · 23/05/2011 14:06

I went to school with kids who flew as unaccompanied minors all the way from Singapore, Kenya, Zambia,Canada to UK at 11. Cannot see any difference, especially as you know the family well. The airport staff are excellent at looking after unaccompanied minors in a non-patronising way!

TotemPole · 23/05/2011 14:06

You'll see him to the departure gate.
He'll be looked after on the flight.
Then he'll be picked up the other end.
The staff will ensure he's with a known adult before they leave him.

I think you should let him go.

Penthesileia · 23/05/2011 14:06

Oh, bless his heart.

YANBU. Let him go.

I used to fly a lot as an unaccompanied minor, back and forth to boarding school from the US to the UK. I would make one internal US flight, then long-haul, then another internal UK flight. I survived!
Actually, it could be quite fun (although the journey out would be tough as I would be miserable missing my family). I used to have to go through Dallas Fort Worth, which is enormous, and this old guy (always the same one, weirdly) would pick me up on one of those buggies to zoom me across the airport to make my connection. The air stewards were always very kind. And, best of all, I used to be bumped up to first or business class all the time, so the stewards could keep an eye on me! They were always very conscientious and made sure that someone always had responsibility for me.

He?ll be fine.

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