At United Airlines, 15 is the New 12

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At United Airlines, 15-year-olds will now have to be accompanied on and off the plane by a paid escort. (That sounds a little weird!) Until this month, the requirement was only for kids aged 5-12.

This new rule will cost parents $150 a trip, which is such a total rip-off that the mind boggles even as the fingers Google. Let’s see: Can 15-year-olds possibly make their way solo from security to the gate? Here’s the list a fantastic site called Museum of Conceptual Art spits out when you put the age “15” into its “Things Other People Accomplished When They Were Your Age” rubric. (Which is both fun and depressing.)

At age 15:

Composer George Gershwin (“Rhapsody in Blue”) left school to pitch his songs in Tin Pan Alley.

Chess champion Bobby Fischer became an international grandmaster and dropped out of high school to devote himself to professional competition.

Swedish tennis star Bjorn Borg dropped out of school to concentrate on tennis.

American reformer Susan B. Anthony began teaching school.

Issac Asimov entered Columbia University.

Henry Ford, disliking life on the farm, moved to Detroit and trained as a machinist.

Ragtime musician Eubie Blake began playing piano in Baltimore brothels.

Benjamin Franklin contributed anonymously to a local newspaper, and he wrote ballads and peddled them in the streets. Also at this age, he became a free-thinker and a vegetarian.

Edith Piaf began her career singing in the streets of Paris.

Billie Holiday began singing in a Harlem nightclub.

Eddie Murphy performed his own comedy routines at youth centers in New York.

Louis Braille, blind since age 3, improved the method of raised writing.

Baker’s apprentice Hanson Crockett Gregory invented the first ring doughnuts by knocking the center out of a fried doughnut.

Outlaw Jesse James joined up with Quantrill’s pro-Confederate guerrillas.

Tennis player Jennifer Capriati became the youngest semifinalist at Wimbledon.

Inventor Thomas Alva Edison became manager of a telegraph office.

Newspaper editor Horace Greeley became an apprentice printer.

Anne Frank wrote the final entry in her diary.

D. Eversz gave herself a concussion in Foot Locker after attempting to do a backflip off the counter. [Lenore here: Not sure why that’s on the list!]

A 15-year-old boy in southern India performed a Caesarean section on film, in an attempt to get his name in the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest surgeon. The surgery was successful, but his physician father may face criminal charges and have his license revoked.

Then again, maybe United is afraid of kids running away. After all, at age 14, according to that same wonderful “Accomplishment” calculator:

American statesman and military commander Sam Houston ran away from home to live with the Cherokee Indians.

Danish fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen ran away to Copenhagen and became an apprentice at the Royal Theater.

W. R. Grace, founder of the Grace shipping lines, ran away to sea.

By the way, American and Delta both require chaperons till age 14, so they are almost as insulting/greedy as United. And, according to The LA Times, Air New Zealand is giving unaccompanied minors a special wrist band that texts their parents throughout the flight to let them know where they are. “Oh, Jordyn just crossed the 15th Parallel North. Phew!”

Wasn’t I just saying in my last post, the one about the wearable thermometer that gives parents a continuous readout of their kid’s temperature, that soon parents will be expected to be as all-seeing, all-knowing, all-controlling as God?

Yes I was. Parents must be God and their kids are helpless babies, beset by adversity they cannot face alone, like trying to find a tuna sandwich near the gate that doesn’t cost $12. And now the definition of a helpless baby has been extended to 15. Wait a few years and kids won’t be able to travel unaccompanied until they are shipping out to Afghanistan. –  L.

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Fly the insulting skies of United!

Fly the infantilizing skies of United!

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83 Responses to At United Airlines, 15 is the New 12

  1. Art December 29, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    Meh, sounds like a cash grab more than anything.

  2. BL December 29, 2015 at 10:57 am #

    Last year, Andy Zhang qualified to play in the US Open golf tournament. Age 14.

    The US Women’s Golf Open has seen two 12-year-old qualifiers, both of them now prominent professionals: Morgan Pressel and Lexi Thompson.

  3. Brooke December 29, 2015 at 11:22 am #

    I prefer the wristband because at least I have the option to ignore it and treat my kid like an able human being.

    Also, the last item on the list of 15 year old accomplishments proves that parental guidance doesn’t always equal wise decisions.

  4. gap.runner December 29, 2015 at 11:37 am #

    What a ripoff! I flew across the country, and had to change planes, when I was 12. I somehow made it to my destination both ways.

    I mentioned this before, but when my husband’s great-uncle was 15, he and his family (mother, father, brother, sister) traveled from New York City to California. When it was time to go home, there wasn’t enough money to buy a ticket for Uncle Ben to go back home to New York. So Uncle Ben, who could play the violin, worked his way across the country playing in movie theaters to accompany silent movies. This was before World War I, and movie theaters had live musicians. He would find a theater, play there long enough to earn enough money to move on to the next town, then travel to the next destination. My husband’s great-grandparents obviously approved of their 15-year-old working in movie theaters.

    Uncle Ben grew up to be a professional violinist.

  5. Warren December 29, 2015 at 11:40 am #

    Absolutely nothing to do with safety and everything to do with getting free money. Absolute rip off.

  6. Marijana December 29, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    Anyone noticed Latchkey definition on Wiki?

    “A latchkey kid or latchkey child is a child who returns from school to an empty home because their parent or parents are away at work, or a child who is often left at home with little parental supervision.”

    Following is a huge list of disastrous psychological consequences of leaving a kid alone: “potentially resulting in such behaviors as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, sexual promiscuity and smoking”.

    Wish someone would correct it (someone with better English than mine).

    Free range greetings from East Europe

  7. Backroads December 29, 2015 at 11:48 am #

    Money grab.

    Peehaps a bad example but… Don’t we see teenagers becoming parents at this age?

  8. Marijana December 29, 2015 at 11:50 am #

    List is far longer, this was just a short quote:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latchkey_kid

  9. That_Susan December 29, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    @gap.runner: “I mentioned this before, but when my husband’s great-uncle was 15, he and his family (mother, father, brother, sister) traveled from New York City to California. When it was time to go home, there wasn’t enough money to buy a ticket for Uncle Ben to go back home to New York. So Uncle Ben, who could play the violin, worked his way across the country playing in movie theaters to accompany silent movies. This was before World War I, and movie theaters had live musicians. He would find a theater, play there long enough to earn enough money to move on to the next town, then travel to the next destination. My husband’s great-grandparents obviously approved of their 15-year-old working in movie theaters.

    “Uncle Ben grew up to be a professional violinist.”

    This is such a cool story it bears repeating. 🙂

  10. Caiti December 29, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    @ Marijana I don’t have the mental energy to “create content” today, but if you want to write something I can check it for grammar, sentence structure, spelling and the like and send it back to you to post on Wikipedia.

  11. pentamom December 29, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    That Wiki article could be edited by someone adding something along the lines of:

    Potential benefits include the development of self-regulation, problem solving skills, increased familiarity with safety protocols, improved self-care, and increased ability to perform basic household tasks.

  12. lollipoplover December 29, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    It is so sad the way they are dumbing down young adults with these age discriminatory policies.

    15 years old? We need someone to walk them to and from the plane. But 16? Here’s the keys to a 3000 lb. rolling death chamber.

  13. pentamom December 29, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    Also throw in stuff about learning how to spend productive time alone, though I’m not sure of a good way to word it.

  14. Gina December 29, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    BACKROADS: Yes. We see them becoming parents, getting married, getting jobs and driving cars. This is ridiculous and for once I agree with WARREN. It’s about money. And perhaps they are CYAing a bit too?

  15. Rick December 29, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    @Marijana

    Looking at the wiki page for Latchkey kid, it seems the only references to ” “potentially resulting in such behaviors as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, sexual promiscuity and smoking” is p. 414 of some psychology book published 7 years ago and a May 24, 1999 article from the Korea Herald. This is the type of scientific fraud that backs up most medical claims and what I’ve termed the “Medical Police State”, a condition in which you are enslaved for your own good, backed up by “science”. Welcome to the 21st century.

  16. elliesmum13 December 29, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    In 1987 when my son was 8 years old, he flew unaccompanied from New Zealand to Wisconsin for a holiday with his grandma. No one lifted an eyebrow, charged any extra fee or anything else. Of course he was guided through all the different stopovers (there wasn’t even non-stop Auckland – LA back then), but he had an absolute ball and this trip has remained a highlight of his childhood. Not all kids could have coped or are ready for such an adventure, but he was and I never hesitated about letting him do this. I still have the blanket and the crystal salt and pepper shakers he took and brought home after being upgraded to first class for part of his journey home!

  17. lollipoplover December 29, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    Air travel sucks. I truly believe the airline industry doesn’t want anyone to fly with these policies.

    I hope an entrepreneur sets up an Uber-type service to undercut the $150 price and offer cheaper *escorts* for these precocious 15 year-olds. What dangers they may encounter walking in an airport.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAFeNfFhzhg

  18. Matthew December 29, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    Our 15 yo son drives with his permit here in Fl. Think about that he is able to drive a car with us but if he were to fly without us he would need an escort. Just a masonry grab and perceived do goodby United. I bet if you look to it also has to be a direct flight. A few months ago I flew my nephew from ORL to PHI it was an extra $100 and he had to take a direct flight. He is 13.

  19. En Passant December 29, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    Maybe I’ve related this true story here before in a similar discussion. But it bears repeating in this one.

    When I was four (4) years old in the late 1940s, my parents put me on a train alone, for a several hour trip. It wasn’t across the entire country, but the time on board was about the same as a long interstate airplane flight.

    I was festooned with tags, bearing my name, home, destination and phone numbers. My suitcase was similarly tagged.

    It was a great trip, on the last of the real steam powered “choo choo” trains, which is what I called them at the time.

    My parents saw me off, and my grandparents met me. Nobody, from ticket agents, to conductors, to other passengers, thought my presence on the train trip was in the slightest bit odd, and certainly not something that should have been forbidden or subjected to police attention.

    The only thing that has changed since then is that full grown adults holding authority in government and business have become more like inexperienced children in their judgment and maturity.

  20. Warren December 29, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    What are they going to do with a 15 yr old that buys a ticket with his own money to go see friends or family?

  21. A Reader December 29, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    My grandparents moved to Florida when I was 13 and I flew down alone to visit them not long after they moved. There was no extra fee or escort or anything, but when the plane landed, an announcement came on saying “[My full name], your grandparents are here and waiting for you at the baggage claim.” Most. Embarrassing. Moment. I was so mad at them for that. I was also annoyed when, on the return trip, they got a pass to allow them to escort me to the gate. A year later, 9/11 happened and they didn’t allow those passes anymore, so they couldn’t do that to me anymore.

    I gotta admit, I would not want a 15 year old performing a c-section on me unless he was Doogie Houser. Delivering on the side of the road and gotta take what help I can? Fine. (Sort of happened to a friend of mine, who delivered unexpectedly at home, and when the ambulance showed up, one of the crew was a 16 year old volunteer). But major abdominal surgery that is generally performed by highly trained doctors? No thanks. I don’t really consider that an accomplishment for a teenager, that’s just reckless. I wouldn’t want my husband or my mother doing it either, because they’re not doctors. My father is a surgeon (though not an ob), so I’d be ok with him doing it 🙂

  22. Stacey December 29, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    In some states, 15 is the age at which they can get a learner’s permit/drivers license. So they can drive a car, but cannot be alone as a passenger on a plane?

  23. Tim December 29, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

    “Wait a few years and kids won’t be able to travel unaccompanied until they are shipping out to Afghanistan.”

    In the US, one can join the military at seventeen if parents give permission. So assuming a young military person finishes basic and other training in six months, the difference is about a year and a half (or less) between the fifteen year old and the serviceperson shipping out.

    The question is, when United raises the age to seventeen, what will they do with a seventeen year old serviceperson traveling to their duty station?

  24. hineata December 29, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

    Air New Zealand, though, still allows kids to fly solo without this wristband from 12 onwards….I see they ‘must’ have one from ages 5-11. I wish we could afford to send our minor kids (actually we have only one minor now….that’s weird, where did life go?!) traveling alone long distance…it’s such a good experience for them. But usually by the time we have enough money saved for international travel, we all want to go along ☺.

    Off topic, but speaking of minors, Midge is going on a trial (involves DNA testing etc) with the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland….while she signs for all her own stuff medically down here (she’s 16 already ), we have to sign forms for her for the US system. Anyone know why that is? Surely by 16 you’re old enough to decide what sort of health care you want done to you/to be involved in? Seems like serious babying to me…..

  25. Tara December 29, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

    This past April my (then) 140 year-old took her first solo flight, to London. Was she nervous? Absolutely. But she’d flown before, and I refreshed what she’d need to do to go through immigration on the others end. She texted me from her plane when she had question while filling out the customs forms, and 20 days later, she came home without incident.

    This requirement is ridiculous!

  26. pentamom December 29, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    hineata, in the U.S., 18 is the age of majority for nearly all legal purposes. I don’t think they tease out separately whether a 16 year old is old enough to make this or that decision; it’s just that 18 year olds are not yet legal adults permitted to sign off on their own on anything. Should a legal issue come up (like somebody wants to sue over something that happens to Midge) something signed when she was underage would not be considered legally binding.

    IOW, I think it’s more about law than maturity.

  27. Mike December 29, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

    It’s not $150 per trip, but $150 per leg. My wife flew two weekend round trips to Florida to bring our kids to spring break with their grandparents, and it was cheaper than paying the fees.

  28. James Pollock December 29, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

    There’s more to it than just the $150.
    You have to list exactly who is going to claim the child at the far end, no substitutions. And they will not fly unaccompanied minors on the last flight of the day, because if the flight is cancelled, the airline would be responsible for the child overnight.

    On the other hand, if you’ve ever been stuck in a city partway between where you started and where you want to be, you will want to avoid having this happen to your unaccompanied minor. Adults can try to book another flight, or consider other options like renting a car or staying in a hotel overnight. Minors will have difficulty doing these things. The one good thing that comes from paying the extra $$$ is that your little traveller will not be bumped and WILL be put on the plane if it leaves the terminal (and yes, they WILL hold departures for UMs arriving on a delayed flight.)

    Personally, I’ve been stuck in Chicago (about 4 unexpected hours) and in Dallas (overnight) when travelling with my daughter, one time my daughter was stuck in Honolulu for two days with my ex-wife, and once my ex-wife didn’t have to pay for UM tickets anymore, there was a case where she arrived in Charlotte, with nobody there to meet her for around 8 hours. (I’m not sure what the airline would have done if she’d been on a UM ticket).

  29. James Pollock December 29, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    ” A year later, 9/11 happened and they didn’t allow those passes anymore, so they couldn’t do that to me anymore.”

    Actually, if you’re flying on a UM ticket, they require that someone come to the gate with you, and wait until the plane actually departs. Because if the plane doesn’t actually depart, they have to make other arrangements for all the people on the plane, and they don’t want you underfoot… they want to give you back to the person who tried to drop you off.
    However, they will always be selected for enhanced TSA screening, because they’re going into the secure area but not actually getting on a plane. Which is what Lockerbie-style terrorists do.

  30. Dana B December 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

    Lenore-our 13 year old cousin came to visit us this summer from Atlanta. Not only did she need to be accompanied to and from the gate, but my parents couldn’t leave the airport til she took off
    (On her way home). I assume her parents had to wait at the airport too. It cost her parents an extra $400 or so for her to fly unaccompanied. That is just crazy.
    I remember flying with my brother when we were 8 and 9 and it being no big deal. A flight attendant helped us to the baggage claim and that was it.
    15 is ridiculous. What if the 15 year old is a mom herself? i mean, this is pretty stupid and a waste of resources for everyone.

  31. J.T. Wenting December 29, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    less to do with free money for the airline than it does with a corporate fear of lawsuits. It’s too risky for the airline to lose a child, even for 5 minutes, the resulting lawsuits could cripple the company.
    And if those lawsuits are trumped up and prearranged, that doesn’t matter as “it’s for the children”.

    Child “gets lost in the terminal”, “gets traumatised”, and nearly misses her flight. Parents sue for $100 million and not a judge will dare to tell them where to stuff it.
    THAT’s what the airlines are afraid of.

  32. Donna December 29, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    Growing up I had a mother who lived in one state, a father who lived in another state, a grandmother who lived in a third state and another set of grandparents who wintered in a fourth state. I did A LOT of solo flying. I used to ditch the flight attendants. They used to tell me to wait in my seat until everyone was off the plane, but I would just get up and leave.

    But this isn’t about safety. It is a money grab. It is also an attempt to discourage solo minors. Airlines would prefer to not have kids fly alone for many reasons so they make it cost prohibitive for many people.

    I think this should be an option available for any age chld, but definitely not mandatory until age 15.

  33. James Pollock December 29, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

    “less to do with free money for the airline than it does with a corporate fear of lawsuits. It’s too risky for the airline to lose a child, even for 5 minutes, the resulting lawsuits could cripple the company.”

    I don’t think so. If it was fear of liability, there’d be a liability waiver for the parents to sign, and that would be it. The airline wouldn’t formally take custody of the child and thereby saddle themselves with responsibility for him or her.

    When you buy a UM ticket, the airline takes on more liability, not less.

  34. hineata December 29, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

    @Pentamom – hadn’t thought about the suing thing. I suppose that might be a problem for them. We were warned results might affect insurance cover in the future but luckily that’s not important here.

    We do have different ages for different things here, and IMHO I would feel awkward still ‘dictating’ treatment for her at her age, though I suppose parents there probably do what we did for ages anyway….ask her if she wanted it before signing the forms (aster explanations of course).

  35. hineata December 29, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

    As for unaccompanied minors not having options if they miss a connection, flight is delayed etc, could they not just sleep in the airport like others do? Here in Wellington the airport does close for a few hours overnight, but the airline would just either put the kid up in a hotel or have someone take the kid home for the night.

  36. James Pollock December 29, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

    “could they not just sleep in the airport like others do?”

    Sleeping in the airport is… discouraged. They have furniture which is designed to make it difficult to sleep in.

    “the airline would just either put the kid up in a hotel or have someone take the kid home for the night.”
    Either of which is going to eat up the profit margin and then some on the UM ticket.

  37. Donald December 29, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    It’s certainly insulting to 15 year olds and it’s over the top.

    I disagree that it’s a greedy cash grab from the airlines. Safety consultants focus on two types of safety.
    1. bodily harm type of safety
    2. courtroom safety

    Safety consultants must continue to pass safety recommendations otherwise they stop getting paid. They don’t need to find an answer to a problem. There doesn’t even need to be a problem! However the must continue to supply ‘answers’.

    I’m sticking up for the airlines in this case. They get bullied just like the passengers. I don’t believe they want to do things like not allowing a man to sit next to a child.

    http://www.freerangekids.com/i-dont-want-a-man-sitting-next-to-my-kids-on-a-plane/

    They do this because of the all mighty insurance companies keep adding to their ten commandments. (the count is now at 2,387 commandments) They keep adding to them because safety consultants want more things to do

    I also believe that school administrators get bullied by the ‘Gods’ of insurance. However I don’t believe the insurance companies are at fault either. That’s because in this day and age no one is allowed to think. They only read the regulations above them and pass them down. That’s why I keep harping on about bureaucracy. It’s gotten out of control. No one is in charge!

    http://www.onmysoapboxx.com/

  38. Coasterfreak December 29, 2015 at 5:03 pm #

    Years ago, my two step-children flew across the country to visit their father, and back to us. I don’t remember their exact ages, but I do remember I was not married to their mother yet, which means the oldest they could have been was 7 and 5. The airline assigned an adult to make sure they were OK and to get them to their connecting flight. For this service, we paid exactly nothing.

    This is a money grab. Nothing else.

  39. Donald December 29, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

    “Child “gets lost in the terminal”, “gets traumatised”, and nearly misses her flight. Parents sue for $100 million and not a judge will dare to tell them where to stuff it.”

    I believe this is the heart of most problems

    Judges, CPS, and police are bullied by the newspaper
    the newspaper is bullied by the people because they tune into the news with the most drama
    insurance is bullied by the judges
    airlines and school administrators are bullied by insurance
    people are bullied by cps, police, airlines, and school administrators

    This is a vicious circle.

  40. sigh December 29, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

    My 14-year-old called me a week ago in a panic from the airport because he’d queued up at the wrong airline counter and they had no record of him being booked on a flight.

    He was alone. I talked him through it. I reminded him which airline he was on. Explained all would be fine when he got to the counter, didn’t matter if he had his itinerary with him, etc. He was there quite early so all was well.

    Once he got through security, he got himself a sandwich or three and called me again, quite proud of himself. Was it a little stressful for him? Sure. Does he know more about navigating airports and how ticketing works? Yes. Do I think this is an absolutely appropriate thing for a 14-year-old to be handling? Absolutely.

    And if there were no cell phones, he would have figured it out eventually, or called me from a pay phone.

    I commented to my husband that this is one of the best things about my son being out of province— he has to figure some things out, he has to learn things earlier than other kids learn them. And it’s SO POSITIVE.

    My brother and I regularly travelled from Ohio to California as young, young kids… I think we’d have been 4 and 8. They’d give us little metal wings to wear and gave us little toys and things to play with. I remember this biggest issue being whether we were in the smoking or non-smoking section (I hated being in smoking).

    Once, we got stranded at O’Hare because of weather, and the flight attendant took us home to her apartment for the night.

    I remember the only thing the adults cranking about after that incident was how they wish they could avoid ever having connections in f&@#ing O’Hare.

    I panicked the first time my son flew solo this year because the airline reps all had a different story of what was required. ID or no ID? Adult accompanies him to check in or not? Paid escort or no paid escort required? One guy told me there was “no way your son will get on that plane by himself.” The next representative said she wished I’d gotten that guy’s name, because it was absolutely false.

    Not only can my 14-year-old fly alone on Canada Air and WestJet, but they don’t require any ID at all. Only for those 18 and older. They regularly ask him, though, because he looks like he could be 32.

  41. Tsu Dho Nimh December 29, 2015 at 6:04 pm #

    When my nephew was FIVE, he qualified for an unaccompanied flight from SoCal to AZ … and he was thrilled.

    His parents accompanied him to the gate, his grandparents met him at the gate and it all worked out.

  42. Barry Lederman December 29, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

    I HATE THIS! I HATE THIS! I HATE THIS!!! I have kids who need to fly a few times a year for various reasons. It is such an enormous pain in the neck, waste of money, overall stupidity. The worst part is that you are required to tell them exactly who is going to pick them up from the airport, and that person needs to park, come into the airport and show ID before the child is released. Don’t get me started about how horrible this is. I have lived it over and over.

  43. Barry Lederman December 29, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

    Another thing. The rules constantly change. If everything is good at the time of booking, but they change the rules before the actual flight (e.g. lower the age); you are shafted.

  44. Warren December 29, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

    Wonder what there ratio is. How many kids to adults, before some are considered unattended? I am thinking of school trips, and team trips.

  45. BDK December 29, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

    I was six years old when i flew from California to Florida by myself. I went to visit my grandparents.

  46. Emily December 29, 2015 at 11:59 pm #

    >>Wonder what there ratio is. How many kids to adults, before some are considered unattended? I am thinking of school trips, and team trips.<<

    Good point, Warren. I travelled to Italy with my high school band in grade eleven, and then New Orleans in OAC. I was sixteen the first time, and eighteen the second time, but since there was no minimum age to be in the senior band, nor was there a minimum age to travel with said band (for Italy, there was a small audition, but I don't think there was anything like that for New Orleans), there were definitely students there who were fifteen and younger. There were extra adults who came along as chaperones, besides our teachers, because there were so many of us, but even then, we're talking maybe five or six chaperones for close to 100 students for Italy. It was a smaller band the year we went to New Orleans, but again, we had much less supervision than we would have had travelling with our families. The solution was for us to use the "buddy system," and travel in pairs or small groups, which we did. Honestly, though, I don't see the airlines doing anything to restrict school groups, because, if they did, they'd be turning down a TON of revenue, and also, school groups travelling by plane are usually "good kids" travelling for a positive purpose. In my case, I was in a high school band travelling on a concert tour. Other students might be travelling for a high-level sports tournament, or an academic competition of some sort, or to partake in an archaeological dig or something of that nature. If the airlines put up a lot of barriers (and, charging extra fees can create a barrier) to stop schools from taking students on those kinds of trips, it'd be a P.R. nightmare. So, I also agree with the sentiment that the "escort fee" (which really shouldn't be called that) is more of a "cash grab" than anything. Really? $150 to walk a teenager from security to their boarding gate, and then another $150 to walk them to their adult at the other end? Talk about gouging.

  47. John December 30, 2015 at 12:19 am #

    I’m surprised they didn’t move it up to the magical age of 18 when a boy becomes a man and a girl becomes a women. You know, when a child wakes up on the morning of his 18th birthday and he’s automatically tough and tenacious and mature and smart and a person with good judgment. Of course we all know that just a minute before at age 17 years, 364 days, 23 hours and 59 minutes old he was just a tender and naive little child who was incapable of doing anything on his own without adult supervision.

  48. Emily December 30, 2015 at 12:45 am #

    P.S., I forgot to mention, there were times on these band trips when we wore matching outfits, so we’d be easier to spot in public. We wore our formal uniforms when we performed, casual uniforms to travel, and to places where we had to look “respectable,” like the Vatican, matching sweatshirts, or T-shirts, or baseball caps when we had to stick together, but formality wasn’t an issue, and the rest of the time, we just wore our own clothes. Except for formal uniforms, our teachers and adult chaperones followed the same dress codes that we did when we travelled. I don’t know if this would make a difference in the “how high can the supervision ratio be before some participants are considered unattended” question, but it seems kind of silly to penalize a group of uniformed teenagers, who are obviously together, and obviously travelling for a good reason, behaving well, and accompanied by adults, just because there aren’t enough adults in the group to satisfy an arbitrary mathematical formula.

    Also, when I was in high school, I did OAC (Ontario Academic Credit), which used to be called “Grade 13.” This year was, in theory, a “university prep” year that advanced students did after grade twelve. In practice, it also made it more socially acceptable for people to stay an extra year and take more grade twelve courses, which were offered at all three levels (Basic, General, and Advanced), while OAC classes were Advanced only. So, when I was in OAC, I was eighteen years old, and therefore, legally an adult. My year was the last year to have OAC, but there’s still a chance that a grade twelve student might be eighteen years old also, for whatever reason–early birthday, repeating the year to pick up missed credits, redshirted for kindergarten twelve years previously, redshirted for sports in high school, whatever. So, my school prepared for this, and had some different rules for students who were eighteen or older. At eighteen, you could sign yourself in and out of school, drive yourself on field trips instead of taking the bus, write your own notes for excused absences, or if you had to arrive late or leave early, and you didn’t even have to really say why–“personal reasons” was accepted. So, with that in mind, if a high school group is travelling by plane, and some of the students on the trip are eighteen years old already, they’re legally “adults,” so they should surely count as “adults” in the supervision ratio according to the airport. Of course, these newly-minted adults might not be terribly “adult” at that point, because the rising minimum ages for just about everything, only serve to shorten the time in which young people are given to figure out the world on their own before being thrust out in it (because, at eighteen, or university/college move-in day, they’re “adults”), but that’s a moot point with the airport–fifteen-year-olds apparently need to be escorted by an adult, and an eighteen-year-old is an adult. So, by that logic, they can’t possibly object to eighteen-year-old high school students, being designated as “supervising adults” for fourteen-and-fifteen-year-old high school students, travelling on a school trip.

  49. Emily December 30, 2015 at 1:39 am #

    >>I’m surprised they didn’t move it up to the magical age of 18 when a boy becomes a man and a girl becomes a women. You know, when a child wakes up on the morning of his 18th birthday and he’s automatically tough and tenacious and mature and smart and a person with good judgment. Of course we all know that just a minute before at age 17 years, 364 days, 23 hours and 59 minutes old he was just a tender and naive little child who was incapable of doing anything on his own without adult supervision.<<

    But John, if the airlines did that, then a person who's eighteen years old today, could be the "adult escort" for someone who's turning eighteen tomorrow. At that point, it's just ridiculous. Actually, I take that back; requiring escorts for fifteen-year-olds is ridiculous, but setting the age at eighteen is sketch comedy material. Monty Python could do a great job with that one; right up there with the gym class where the boys learn to defend themselves from an attacker wielding a piece of fresh fruit.

  50. James Pollock December 30, 2015 at 3:28 am #

    “Really? $150 to walk a teenager from security to their boarding gate, and then another $150 to walk them to their adult at the other end?”

    Not really. $150 extra, to have the airline formally take custody of your minor and assure that they reach their destination safely. For a single leg journey, not worth it except for the youngest kids. If there’s a connection in the middle, then it really depends on whether or not anything is likely to go wrong. If it is, then the $150 is like insurance, that makes sure your minor doesn’t wind up stuck in some intermediate city with no flight out.

    When my daughter was flying, it was required for children up to 12 (domestic) and minors (flying internationally). It was optional for minors flying domestically. I might’ve paid up if the trip was unusually complex, had that situation presented, which it did not (My ex-wife was responsible for travel plans, and payment of associated fees, for visitations)

  51. James Pollock December 30, 2015 at 3:36 am #

    “P.S., I forgot to mention, there were times on these band trips when we wore matching outfits, so we’d be easier to spot in public”

    When my daughter took the band trip, they didn’t wear uniforms (except when performing), but they had these hanging neck things that were made of clear plastic, and had the name of the group and the name of the travel agency clearly displayed, and they had their tickets in them. This allows a small number of chaperones to keep track of a large number of students. People that were in the group were easy to spot, and they could tell immediately if the students had their required tickets (airline, Disneyland, etc.) with them.

  52. John December 30, 2015 at 4:04 am #

    @Emily

    Oh I agree Emily. Setting it at 18 would be sketch comedy material. But I would not put it past our American society mentality one bit. We are gradually wimpifying our kids. The kids of today have more restrictions placed on them than the kids of yesterday and the kids of tomorrow will have even more restrictions placed on them than the kids of today! It’s getting worse by the year.

  53. BL December 30, 2015 at 7:58 am #

    @John
    “Setting it at 18 would be sketch comedy material.”

    So? Half the stories Lenore links to sound like they come from the Onion anyway. But they don’t, they don’t …

  54. Vicki December 30, 2015 at 9:35 am #

    My 15 year old has his learners permit and has a job at a local restaurant. While he can travel alone on Delta, if his 14 year old brother wanted to travel with him, I’d have to pay for unaccompanied minor services as they require an adult 18 or over to accompany him. Personally, I’d feel better having them travel together than either by himslef although I know they could both handle it. There are still some airlines (e.g. Southwest) that let 12 year old travel alone and even be the “adult” to a slightly younger child, but they are getting to be fewer and fewer.

  55. CrazyCatLady December 30, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    Not that I approve at all of this policy, but I bet the lawyers were the ones who said for them to do this. Because we can’t have any 14 or 15 year old kids trying to fly to Syria. As I recall with the last set of girls to fly off, there was cries of “Why didn’t the airlines stop them?” This certainly is not fool proof in the case of a 17 year old going with the 15 year old, but it gives them some protection.

  56. CrazyCatLady December 30, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    And, just because the lawyers recommend it, doesn’t make it a good policy.

  57. Donna December 30, 2015 at 11:44 am #

    “Really? $150 to walk a teenager from security to their boarding gate, and then another $150 to walk them to their adult at the other end?”

    Not at all. The flight attendants generally do not escort the minors through the airport unless it is to a connecting flight. The dropping off and receiving adults generally walk through security to drop off/pick up the minor at the gate.

    However, as James said, it is a bit like insurance. It requires the airline to care for the child if the flight is disrupted for some reason. Flights get cancelled and diverted all the time. Sometimes for multiple days. I know that my 10 year old could not emotionally handle being snowed in in an airport alone in a strange city where she knows nobody for 2 days. I don’t really expect her to be able to logistically handle that at 14. It isn’t a matter of babying minors, but understanding the reality that younger teens who were traveling from home to grandma’s house have no ability to rent hotel rooms and likely don’t have debit/credit cards or large amounts of cash to survive financially on their own for several days.

    My biggest complaint about this is really: (a) That it is mandatory so I am being forced to pay for something that my child may not developmentally need. Given a credit card, I totally could have survived in a airport for days by myself. I would have been bored out of my mind, but not the slightest bit scared. My anxious kid not so much. (b) That the program entails such babying. Charge a small unaccompanied minor fee to take care of kids should the flight be disrupted, but otherwise leave them the heck alone. They don’t need to be escorted on and off planes, signed for or otherwise specially handled. At the youngest ages or at some of the larger airports, they may need help with connecting flights that could be incorporated for an extra fee.

  58. BL December 30, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    @Donna
    “I don’t really expect her to be able to logistically handle that at 14.”

    My Gt-gt-grandmother came to the US alone at the age of 13. I don’t know how long the sea voyage was, but she wasn’t done when the ship put in, because her destination was Wooster, Ohio, to be an indentured servant.

    She got there, presumably by train.

  59. lollipoplover December 30, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    @BL- My 14 yo is at a 2 day tournament *alone* with his high school team. He made the varsity team (he’s still in middle school) and both my husband and I had work commitments so he went solo. He’s been very dedicated to his team and attending every practice over break and the seniors on the team are great mentors and he has amazing coaches. He’s handled the logistics just fine and is having a great time.

    We looked into a trip for spring break to Florida to visit relatives and wanted to send our 3 kids early as they have the week off and join up with them later in the week. Logically, I thought the 14 yo would just lead his younger sisters to board and depart the plane but the policies and fees for unaccompanied minors is bat-shit crazy. I don’t know how anyone can fly the unfriendly skies anymore and why these requirements aren’t considered reverse ageism. I see more elderly folks who need assistance in airports than children. Why don’t they require paid escorts?

  60. Donna December 30, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

    BL –

    13 year olds who conquer the globe are still a rarity.

    That said, your grandmother got on a ship that was arrange for her and a train that was arranged for her. I would guess that there was also some form of accommodation arranged if she needed to stay in, what I assume was NYC, before boarding her train. That would have all been arranged by whomever hired her as an indentured servant before she left where ever it is she left. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was in a supervised group of indentured servants throughout the entire journey. She was at the very least intercepted at various points where she could possibly get lost as otherwise there is a large risk that she would get to NYC and run off without ever fulfilling her indentured servitude.

    It doesn’t appear from your story that your grandmother, at 13, suddenly found herself in Newfoundland with no arrangements made for her, no ability to make accommodations for herself and no money. That is a hugely different situation than a 13 year old who is put on a flight to California to see grandma with a couple bucks in his pocket on he morning of 9/11/01 who suddenly finds himself stuck in St. Louis for 3 days with no ability to leave, no ability to rent a hotel room, and only enough money to buy a single meal in the airport McDs. Now, in a national emergency such as 9/11, I’m sure someone would come to the aid of a solo 13 year old. A flight cancelled Christmas Eve, as many of them were this year due to weather, when everyone is grumpy, harried and trying to get to where they want to spend Christmas, not so much.

    Is this something my child could survive? Absolutely. She likely would not die even if she truly got no food for 3 days. Do I think this is some necessary life skill to be obtained at 13? No. Would I be willing to pay a fee to ensure that it doesn’t happen? Depends largely on the flight. I am really not going to anticipate 9/11 happening again (and do believe she would be taken care of by strangers in that occurrence), but may if she has a connecting flight in a city that has a lot of weather issues.

  61. AmyO December 30, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

    This is totally for money. Was there even an incident that prompted this policy change? If there is a parent that wants this option, fine. I’ve taken groups of kids aged 12-18 on trips around the country, and they were better behaved on the flights than some adults.

    I think if a kid can get a job at 14, they can certainly travel at that age too.

  62. Donna December 30, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    “My 14 yo is at a 2 day tournament *alone* with his high school team.”

    Your 14 year old isn’t alone. He is with an entire team and I assume adult coaches. If something were to happen, he would have a large number of other people to make arrangements for him. If they were stranded, an adult could book hotel rooms for them all and purchase meals and make arrangements to get another bus,. etc. It isn’t all resting on his shoulders.

    Throwing up a bunch of examples in which things went exactly as planned and say “see kids can handle logistics” doesn’t actually indicate that it is reasonable to expect kids to handle the logistics when things go completely out of whack. I have absolutely no doubt that my child at 10 could handle the logistics of a flight that went largely as planned. Even a short delay could be managed. Could she handle being stuck overnight? No. At 14, even if she could emotionally handle being stuck somewhere for 2 days, she can’t book a hotel reservation as hotels don’t rent rooms to minors or usually people without credit cards. If she stayed in the airport, she can’t magically get money for food and she is unlikely to have enough cash on her for 2 days in an airport. If she has a cellphone, I can talk her through rebooking a flight, but I don’t know that she would be able to do it on her own as this can be difficult even as an adult.

  63. Hans December 30, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

    I am glad that I live on another continent. Some weeks ago, I travelled from Italy to Austria, my home country, by train. Near me sat a 13 or 14 year old girl from another Austrian town who had visited her aunt who had been on holiday in a seaside resort in Italy. Did that girl have any problems or could she not handly the situation during that 5 hours train ride? No. Her biggest concern was about the weather. In Italy it was warm and sunny, in Austria it was pouring and she was wearing only light summer clothing. But as her house was near the station and she knew her parents were going to pick her up there by car, even that was not a real problem.

    @Donna: I thought the US would be more customer friendly. I think it is rather strange for hotels not to accept people without credit cards as customers. Over here that’s unheard of, although in some instances the hotel would ask for cash in advance.
    And I also thought, that in the US almost every adult has a credit card. So in my thoughts, it would have been logical to give cards linked with the account of their parents to children.

  64. James Pollock December 30, 2015 at 2:08 pm #

    I think there’s some disconnect here.

    Some people are imagining a single-leg trip… you get on the plane at point A, get off the plane at point B, done. Others are imagining a multi-leg trip… you get on the plane at point A, change planes at point B, arrive at point C, done.

    Finally, some are seeing horrible flashbacks of that time when your travel day went like arrive at the airport, the airline says you have no reservation. You can get on a plane to point Q, but there is a weather delay, and they are unsure when (if!) that plane will leave. Meanwhile, your bags get put on the flight you originally intended to board. The plane takes off for Q, and arrives ten minutes earlier than expected, but two hours later than scheduled because of a weather delay at A. Meanwhile, your connecting flight to point B left on schedule, 2 minutes ago. Meanwhile, the airline, having noticed that you did not board your original plane at A, has taken your bags off at M, and put them on a plane bound back to A. The airport at Q is now closed for the night, with no flights scheduled until 6:00AM. There are no taxis, because the last flight was scheduled to arrive over an hour ago. There is no place to obtain food, and even the bathrooms are locked up for the night.

  65. Donna December 30, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

    “I think it is rather strange for hotels not to accept people without credit cards as customers.”

    I’m sure that there are some lowbrow hotels that will take cash advance and not require a credit card, but most hotels require a credit card. Even if that is not how you ultimately pay, they need one on record to charge in case of damages, etc. Either way, I don’t know any hotel in the US that would actually rent a room to 13 or 14 year old. Probably not even a 15, 16 or 17 year old. There may be some possibility to charge the parent’s card remotely, but I would be shocked if a hotel would allow a young teen to stay unattended.

    “And I also thought, that in the US almost every adult has a credit card. So in my thoughts, it would have been logical to give cards linked with the account of their parents to children.”

    I imagine that most/all middle class or above adults have credit cards. Many/most lower income people do not. But, no, my child is not getting a card linked to my account. And certainly not at 13 or 14.

    And, again, some of this is just expectations. If my child is going to Europe for the summer, I would probably make the effort to get her a credit card so that she has something in case of emergencies. And she would also have the ability to pay for a hotel if caught somewhere with whatever money she is using to backpack around Europe. If I am sending my child on a 3 hour plane trip to grandma’s house, I am probably not going to do that, nor am I going to send her with lots of cash she is unlikely to need (and likely to blow of stupid stuff if she has it).

  66. Donna December 30, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

    James – The problem is that those trips do occur and not infrequently. Issues with flights are not uncommon. Of the 3 round trip flights I took this year, 2 had legs that were cancelled due to weather. For one we made it out later the same night. The other required an additional 24 hours in the departure city. I’ve had flights that had to make emergency landings in other cities, some of which required spending the night. Planes that had to be diverted due weather, some of which required spending the night. Have twice been diverted to another city and then had to be bused to my original arrival place from hours away. Have had countless missed connections, some of which required spending the night in the connecting city. My luggage has been lost a half a dozen times (at least mine never was sent to a remote village in Africa where planes only go once a week as happened to a friend who was not even flying to Africa). I’ve had to make damage claims a couple other times. None of this dire, but all a hassle to deal with.

  67. Wendy W December 30, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

    Good grief! I was flying MN to NC regularly beginning at age 8, never with ANY kind of special treatment. I don’t think the “unaccompanied minor” label even existed. At age 14 my 16yo sister and I flew from MN to Okinawa for the summer and I came back alone. The next generation of adults is going to be worthless.

  68. Alexei choquet December 30, 2015 at 8:39 pm #

    At age 12 a french boy scout orchestrated the first war crimes trial of a lutwaffe pilot who straffed civilians. he prevented a lynchmobbing and signalled the french pilot who shot him down to supervise the trial which resulted in the Stuka pilots black box being used toconvict him. he was dispatched with a shot to the back of the head by the french air force pilot.This occurred in may of 1940..

  69. En Passant December 31, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

    Something else worth noting on this issue of the minimum age for flying without being accompanied by an adult.

    In the USA, a person age 14 can obtain a student pilot certificate for gliders or balloons, which allows him/her to fly a glider or balloon with no passengers; or a sport pilot certificate for gliders or balloons, which allows him/her to pilot a glider or balloon with no more than one passenger.

    Gliders, it is worth noting, are treated by Federal Aviation Regulations the same as “aircraft in distress” for right of way purposes. That means that they have right of way over any powered aircraft. The reasons should be obvious: gliders cannot do a “go around” if they miss a landing approach. Nor can they generally gain altitude at will to avoid another aircraft at their altitude.

    So, your 14 year old child can legally pilot an airplane without an engine (an aircraft in distress), either alone or with one passenger.

    But your 14 year old child cannot fly as a passenger on United Airlines without an accompanying adult.

    Makes perfect sense, right?

  70. BL December 31, 2015 at 10:47 pm #

    @En Passant
    “So, your 14 year old child can legally pilot an airplane without an engine (an aircraft in distress), either alone or with one passenger.

    But your 14 year old child cannot fly as a passenger on United Airlines without an accompanying adult.

    Makes perfect sense, right?”

    Hey, 150 bucks is 150 bucks.

  71. Alex January 1, 2016 at 1:07 am #

    That’s unfortunate, and it’s actually a little bit worse of a jump than you said. It wasn’t that “kids 5-12” had to use the service before; I think only kids “under 12” (meaning 5 to 11) had to use the service before.

    So by increasing the unaccompanied minor service to be required for “kids 5-15”, they’ve actually raised the age 4 years. You could have a 12-year-old who flew just fine by himself in 2015, and yet in 2018 when he’s 15 he’ll still be “too young” to fly alone.

    Very sad that most airlines (and Amtrak recently too) aren’t allowing independence to younger teens and people approaching the teen age anymore. I’m sure the remaining airlines are going to be pressured to follow suit soon enough.

    I just don’t get how we expect our kids to suddenly be able to drive at 16 and be an adult at 18 if they’re treated like 5-year-olds all the way up through 15.

  72. Alex January 1, 2016 at 1:11 am #

    https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/travel/specialneeds/minors/default.aspx

    They should change the picture on that web page to a 15-year-old teenager giving the United Airlines employee an eyeroll.

  73. Mazumba January 1, 2016 at 8:12 am #

    When I was 15, I had a deep understanding of avionics and could have flown the plane.

  74. Puzzled January 1, 2016 at 8:31 am #

    Does this fee include having a flight attendant play a guitar that knocks your IV out?

  75. Emily January 1, 2016 at 2:29 pm #

    Since this is a parody of an older song that isn’t as popular, I’m going to include a link to a YouTube video of the original song, called “Airplane,” by the Indigo Girls”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFRMqVBDbAA

    Up on the airplane
    Danger can come to me!
    So I need supervision
    By airport security
    [By airport security]

    ‘Cause I’m fifteen now, but I’m helpless and dumb,
    So I should take the airline’s advice
    Since having autonomy is wrong,
    I hold on to my fear with the grip of a vice

    Because up the airplane
    [up on the airplane]
    Danger can come to me,
    [Danger can come]
    So I need supervision
    By airport security
    [By airport security]

    That little spot on the ground
    is my home town
    Where I live under lock and key!
    I never go outdoors,
    ‘Cause my PS4
    Is sufficient company!
    And I’m up on the airplane

    I never should’ve read the Internet,
    Where the sanctimommy housewives quip
    “It’s a different time, there are predators!”
    Why did I even take this trip
    On an airplane?

    Dad says the
    big bad world’s full of pedophiles,
    Men in white vans make my mom see red,
    ‘Cause alarmist news stories
    Get inside their head
    When they wake, ’till bed
    Though the crime rate’s down,
    Back in our hometown!

    Have we gone insane
    [Back in my hometown?]
    Have we gone insane
    [Crime rate’s down, back in my hometown,]
    Have we gone insane
    [Crime rate’s down, back in my hometown,]
    Have we gone insane?
    [Crime rate’s down]
    Constant fear, we must feel!
    But have we gone insane!
    [Crime rate’s down]
    [Constant fear, we must feel!]
    We’ve gone insane
    [Constant fear, we must feel!]
    [Constant fear, we must feel!]
    [Constant fear, we must feel!]

  76. Yocheved January 3, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

    I used to live across the street from a lovely woman, 98 years young. She told me stories of how when she was 14, and she and her 15 year old husband drove a model T across the country, from Baltimore to California to seek their fortunes.

    Obviously, she lived to tell the tale!

  77. sexhysteria January 4, 2016 at 4:05 am #

    When I was 12 I flew unaccompanied internationally (to Canada and back)!!!

  78. Katie January 4, 2016 at 6:05 pm #

    Cash grab.

    This isn’t the only cash grab I see coming either. They are now trying to push for children under 2 to have to have a car seat and thus buy another seat. Yet tell me one time a car seat ever saved a child in an airplane???

  79. delurking January 5, 2016 at 2:55 pm #

    In the late 70s and early 80s, I traveled to/from Europe with my younger brother, 3 times per year, on itineraries with 1-2 transfers. Early in that period, I was under the age of 12, and both of us were required to travel as unaccompanied minors. Later in that period, I was over 12, though my brother was under twelve. Neither of us was unaccompanied any more, because I was over 12.

    Oh, what a joyous day it was when I passed 12 and we were finally rid of those annoying accompanying flight attendants. All they did was slow us down.

    Regardless, given how often we traveled, it was inevitable that things would go wrong. We were stuck for a day in Amsterdam. We had luggage get lost multiple times (Barcelona was the worst for luggage transfers). We arrived to find an airport under construction, and that our connecting flight had been moved to another airport, but no arrangements made to get passengers from one to the other. We dealt with snooty French check-in agents who know only one phrase: “iz not possible!”. And on and on. BFD. It just isn’t that hard. Airport hotels will give a kid a room, with cash and a passport. Taxis or busses or trains can get you from one place to the next.

  80. Eevee January 7, 2016 at 1:47 pm #

    Agree with what others have been saying: sounds like airlines being cash-grabby to me, especially since there haven’t been any incidents reported of kids 12-15 flying on United getting lost or anything. For the most part, kids that age flying alone are,likely to be seasoned travelers so they can handle themselves (source: personal experience, anecdotal observation), and airlines know that. If making money through more micro-charging wasn’t part of the conversation at United when contemplating this change I would be utterly shocked.

  81. Dinessa January 10, 2016 at 10:34 pm #

    When I was a kid, the airlines offered gate escorts for minors as an additional service, but my brother and I only had one for a single cross-country flight, and asked my mom not to bother the next time.

    This was in 1998. I was 12, my brother was 10, and we lived with my mother and stepfather in Colorado but visited my father on the East Coast about once a month. We spent about 2 years navigating airports and generally becoming experts.

    On a solo cross-country trip with a connecting flight, my brother (who was 11 at the time) got stuck in Chicago because of a snow storm that grounded the planes. My mother had the airline comp him a hotel room and she paid for a car to take him to the hotel and back to the airport the next day. He thought that it was the coolest thing ever.

  82. idea2go January 10, 2016 at 11:59 pm #

    Airports are probably among the safest places on earth! If I have to spend $150 on some airline attendant can they let my kid get to the get on their own, but instead escort my child on a 5-6 hour tour of the destination city? That might almost start to seem worth it.

  83. Theo Chernoff January 12, 2016 at 9:21 am #

    I saw this and just wanted to say something nice about Alaska Airlines. Our 12 year old took a 4.5 hour flight this summer by himself. Alaska charges a $25.00 fee for unaccompanied minors. I put him on the plane with a $25.00 Visa card so he could rent Alaska’s movie player and get something to eat on the flight. Normally these items would cost around $15.00 combined.

    Alaska gave him the movie player and lunch at no charge. I thought that was quite smart and considerate of them to do so.