Delayed Plane Means 13-y.o. Spends Night Alone at Airport — and So?

Hi Readers — Here’s sinfydafys
a story
that elicits at least three reactions from me. An Air Canada plane, delayed because of weather, came back to its gate at Toronto’s Pearson International  Airport at 2 a.m., whereupon it disgorged its passengers with a $10 food voucher and instructions to come back in the morning.  Thus a 13-year-old on board found himself spending the night at the airport, by himself. The plane ended up leaving at 10 a.m. the next day.

Now, my first reaction is: You’d think Air Canada would try to give its passengers lodging. I understand that bad weather is not the airline’s fault, but still: When you’re dumping your passengers at 2 a.m., it would be nice to let them sleep at the airport hotel.

Anyway, that doesn’t even count as one of my reactions. Here they are:

1 – It must be rotten to spend the night in an airport chair along with, one presumes, some other stranded passengers. But it’s not dangerous.

2 – There is something galling about Air Canada blaming the parents for not buying the $100 unaccompanied minor service for their teen:

This is a very unfortunate situation, but it underscores the value of our Unaccompanied Minor service, which the parents in this case elected not to purchase,” said Isabelle Arthur, Air Canada spokeswoman, in an e-mail.

“Parents should always, before making the decision to let their children travel alone, take the time to consider how they may react when travel plans are disrupted. Some are seasoned travellers able to accept interruptions and adapt, while others do not handle them as well.”

What’s so irksome is that Ms. Arthur makes it seem as if the kid was at fault for not handling Air Canada’s wee-hours-of-the-morn “Goodbye and good luck!” with good-natured aplomb. Who does? And to suggest that parents should consider how they’d like THEIR kids to sleep at the airport as a way to promote the airline’s Unaccompanied Minor service is like saying parents should all consider how they’d like their kids to be permanently crippled in a horrible crash in deciding whether or not to buy flight insurance.  About 99.999% of the time the service is simply a chaperon, not a lifeline, and I don’t think parents should be encouraged to envision the rarest, worst-case scenario when deciding whether or not to buy it. Frankly, in a very strange situation like an all-night, in-airport layover, I’d expect Air Canada’s staff to react with some compassion not a, “Serves you right, you cheap parents” snip.

3 – Finally, it is amazing that this is a news story. At 13, kids around the world are holding down jobs, traveling long and dangerous distances, taking care of younger siblings and sometimes bearing children of their own. A night in a plastic chair is not fun (though in the right circumstances, it can be). But if this is news, soon we’ll be reading about 15-year-olds forced to wait over an hour for a ride home from the mall when mom’s dentist appointment runs late.  – L

Your plane will be boarding soon — NOT! — kid.

86 Responses to Delayed Plane Means 13-y.o. Spends Night Alone at Airport — and So?

  1. Paul January 17, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    Lenore, you’re missing the real tragedy of the story. $10 food coupon? At Pearson? That’s going to get you a half a banana at best.

  2. Lisa January 17, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    The kid was stuck waiting for eight hours. Not a pleasant travel day, for sure… but it’s not like he had to fend for himself for a whole day, either! (And if he had? Well, he IS 13. I wouldn’t pay the unaccompanied minor fee either.)
    If he was scared, he could/should have called his parents, who could have stayed on the phone with him for a while and/or checked in every couple of hours. What was scary, anyhow? I would expect my child to be afraid of sleeping in a chair and not waking up in time for the rescheduled flight (heck, *I* would be a little worried about that). So his parents could have agreed to call him to make sure he was awake.
    My daughter is 10, and flew alone for the first time when she was 5 (for an exorbitant fee which paid for someone to walk down the walkway to the plane with her, ask if she was ok mid-flight, and check the id of the person picking her up at the other end. When she is old enough, she will be unaccompanied, and manage on her own. I’m happy to hear about this because it’s a scenario I might not have thought to talk to her about in advance, but I really don’t see the problem. Even at her age, if she didn’t know what to do she would simply call me and ask.

  3. Karen January 17, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    My first reaction is that the grandfather is the one making the big stink. If you trust your child to take a plane unaccompanied, shouldn’t you also trust him to deal with unplanned delays and issues such as this and prepare him beforehand for that reality? Did he call his grandfather to say he was stuck so someone could come and get him? Was he really so frightened in the airport he was presumably alone in most of the day or evening in preparation for travel?

    We know airlines have recently taken a “not our problem” stance on almost everything related to delays and cancellations. It’s not terribly surprising that the airline did pretty much nothing for this young man except give him half a banana and blamed the parents for not paying more money to keep him “safe”.

  4. AztecQueen2000 January 17, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    Because being stuck in the airport all night with a flight attendant (who did not know the kid and who may or may not have stayed) would have been less terrifying for the kid. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

  5. Shannon January 17, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    Air Canada has the WORST customer service of any agency in this country, and that includes the government. Lost bag? Oh well! Delayed flight? Too bad? Cancelled flight? Book another, at your expense if it costs more. 13 yr old left alone? Meh…should’ve paid more money.

    I am not surprised at this story in the least. Our government should let them go under next time they’re failing. Perhaps then we’d have room for another airline that treats its passengers like people.

  6. maria January 17, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    As a former airline employee, I can empathies with the the airlines reaction. Considering the possibility of your child spending the night somewhere is far from a ‘worst case’ situation….it sucks, yes, but it happens, and when choosing to let your child travel alone it’s DEFINITELY something to consider. Even if they HAD given out hotel vouchers, would a hotel take a 13 year old??? I don’t know the answer to that, but I have a feeling they might not.
    But to back you up….this really should be a story at all. Next to being at home, a night in the airport has got to be about THE safest place to be. It’s got a number of airlines/restaurants staffed 24/7, and almost always other stranded travelers. would it have been a story if it had been an 8 hour delay from 8am to 4pm??

  7. Deborah January 17, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    A similar thing happened to me at Pearson when I was ten (33 years ago). My parents drove the 4 hours to the airport to put me on a plane to go and spend the summer with my grandparents in England (yes I was ten flying all that way by myself. Imagine!) My flight was delayed until the next day, but my parents had to get back home for work and couldn’t spend the night. As it was a mechanical delay, the airline got us all rooms. My parents found two nice ladies who were also on the flight and they agreed to watch over me. I got my own room, and they checked in on me. My parents left and I hopped on the plane the next day as excited and happy and mature and safe as I could possibly be. I will always remember that.

  8. Nikki January 17, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    This very thing has happened to me (as an adult) more times than I can remember – including in Toronto after midnight. Airlines don’t typically help passengers find hotels when cancellations are due to weather.

    What I don’t understand is why there was no communication between the teen and the parents. The parents should have known that there was an issue with the flight, or the kid should have called them (airports are one of the few places chock full of payphones). There should have been a Plan B for any kid travelling. Delays aren’t exactly rare. I fail to see how the airline was responsible in any way.

  9. Laura @ Authentic Parenting January 17, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    If I’ve learned anything from flying internationally frequently with kids for quite some time is that
    a) Flight attendants and airline staff are seriously lacking in compassion or even kindness/helpfullness
    b) 6 hours or more stuck in an airport without anything is pretty frequent. I once was stuck for 7 hours with no voucher at all in Heathrow. We couldn’t withdraw or change money, because we had no visa card!! We finally created a ruckuss and got everyone a 2 pound voucher (try buying something with 2 pounds in Heathrow airport!! good luck)

    I’d say at 13 assisted flying would be a bit over the top

  10. Charlotte January 17, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    If the unaccompanied minor service is so important to safety, it should be part of the price of the ticket just like the flotation devices for the “unlikely event of a water landing.”

  11. Emily January 17, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    Maria–A hotel might not take a 13-year-old who showed up alone, but in the instance of a delayed flight, the boy would likely be arriving at the hotel with several other people, from the same flight, so the hotel staff would presumably accept his voucher and check him in for the night, because it’s a special circumstance. That’s what I’ve always assumed would happen, anyway.

    As for this story…….yeah, I agree with Lenore. The “Unaccompanied Minor” service isn’t something that most people think of in the context of an older child, and the problem here isn’t lack of supervision of that boy; it’s inadequate provisions for ALL the passengers. A ten-dollar food voucher won’t go very far at Pearson Airport (half a banana was an exaggeration, but it still wouldn’t stretch to cover dinner AND breakfast, and a thirteen-year-old boy is going to be hungry for both), and also, it hardly seems reasonable to expect anyone to stay overnight in an airport lobby, waiting for a puddle-jumper flight. Did they even think of offering a refund, or offering passengers a choice of reschedule flights? If I was that kid, I probably would have opted to go home, contact my grandfather in the morning to explain the situation, and visit him another time.

  12. Patty January 17, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    All good points. But I had to spend the night in an airport — with my husband and 2 young kids — and it was the RESTROOM that made me nervous. There were other passengers, naturally, and your wits are not w/ you at 4am with no sleep.
    But Air Canada’s reaction was based on fear of a lawsuit and just plain lame.

  13. Lollipoplover January 17, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    13 is the new 9.

    Tt’s not a tragedy that he had a delay. I agree with Paul that a $10 voucher for food is the real crime here.

    And as for an overnight hotel room for this teenager, I just envision Home Alone 2 shenanigans (room service galore) if he got a room….but really, teenagers can sleep anywhere.

  14. Laura January 17, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    I’ve slept in a few airports overnight, for various reasons. Between the cleaning crews and secuity gaurds, I never got any sleep and I was never alone.

    At 13, being at the airport would propbably be better than a hotel. At least there are people around (security and cleaning crews) to help with anything if needed.

  15. Emily January 17, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    Lollipoplover–I didn’t even think of the kid abusing room service at the hotel. When I was thirteen, I probably would have checked in, showered, gone to sleep, woken up, gotten dressed, ordered some mildly unhealthy “treat” item for breakfast, and then walked back to the airport to catch my plane. Thirteen-year-olds aren’t infants.

  16. Mell January 17, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    Would anyone would have stayed with him for those hours even with the fee? We will never know. Those fees get you escorted boarding, deplaning and a little neck tag for your kid. And if some one HAD stayed, they wouldn’t have been happy and the boy would have been stuck with a disgruntled airline employee for those hours.

    But seriously, I am sure the kid was fine. It sounds more like a case of grandparent worry than any real danger to the kid. I paid the fee for the year I had to, but here’s my opinion: if you don’t feel your child can handle an unexpected event ( such as happened here) then he or she is not ready to fly unaccompanied. My son didn’t leave without a charged cellphone and some money to cover emergencies. And had this happened to him, we all would have told him that he was having quite an experience and make it an adventure! .

  17. Cynthia January 17, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    The original article is now only available to Subscribers btw. In any case, if they’d transported them to a hotel, they’d have been in their rooms for less than 4-5 hours by the time they deplaned, been transported, checked in with dozens of fellow passengers, checked out, been transported back, gone through airport security, and been at the gate the required time before departure again. I hope they didn’t send their kid alone without money/credit card &/or a cell phone. Otherwise yeah, at 13 I should hope the kid was presumed able to handle himself for a few hours.

  18. Michelle January 17, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    Ahhh I do enjoy your take on life when the media will try to convince you that you will die or cause death if you do not do all of these ridiculous things. I sometimes struggle with letting my children grow up. And I am always relieved when I read your blog to find out that death or anything close has not come to any of the children whose parents let them do some of the same things I do.
    To the point of this article:
    I let my 13 year old son fly by himself just a few weeks ago…. with out a cell phone, and I did not pay the airline for any kind of supervision in fact I believe he was considered an adult if you can believe that. After he flew by himself he had to go find his luggage and make it outside to find his ride all by himself. Somehow he managed and when asked he didn’t feel it was that big of deal. He said sometimes it was hard to know where to go but he just asked an employee for directions and managed just fine.
    I can tell you if my son had been stranded in an airport for 8 hours with little or no direct supervision he would have figured out a way to get some food (I usually give him 20$ just in case) and then he would have proceeded to using the moving sidewalks for acrobatic tricks which may or may not amuse onlookers, he would have explored the airport probably learned a few things about how to act in an airport if he bumped in to security or an adult smart enough to share a tip with him. He might even call home to let me know he was ok just to be nice but I would not put my money on horrible things happening to him for being stranded for 8 whole hours…..

    Thanks again Lenore, your posts always make me laugh and give me a little more confidence not to be panic stricken when I let my kids grow up.

  19. Lisa January 17, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    For an unaccompanied minor, a parent or other responsible person needs to stay with the child until boarding, and remain at the airport until the flight is in the air. For a child *not* identified as an unaccompanied minor (as this 13 year old was not), it is assumed that they are an adult traveling alone.

    $10 actually seems like a fair voucher to me… the delay was from 2am – 10am, so I assume the airline’s idea was that they were covering breakfast. I haven’t been to that airport, but I’ve always been able to grab coffee and a breakfast sandwich for less than that. Also, I always travel with some extra cash just in case; a 13 year old might not think of that but I would expect the adult dropping him off to make sure he had at *least* $20 in cash on him (I usually plan on $50, but try not to spend more than $20 if everything goes as expected).

  20. CrazyCatLady January 17, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    If grandpa was so concerned, why didn’t he call up some hotels, get his grandson a room, get the shuttle service to come and pick him up, then call him at the appropriate time to wake him up so he could get on the shuttle and go back? Grandpa could stay on the phone the whole time if he wanted.

    I would not worry too much about my 13 year old being caught in this situation. I would call her some point before the flight to make sure she was awake to get on it, but stuff happens. We learn to anticipate and plan for it. My cars are not really reliable, so my kids MUST take their coats with them in the winter and have appropriate shoes for walking. I broke down just the other day and was so glad I had a good coat and gloves while trying for an hour to jump the car in 20 degree weather (with wind.)

  21. WendyW January 17, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    When I was 14, my sisters 16, the 3 of us were traveling back from a summer visit to my grandparents, MN to NC, with a layover in Chicago. There was some kind of problem in Chicago and our flight was cancelled. Despite have flown innumerable time unaccompanied, this was the first time we had run into trouble. NONE of us panicked, We simply got on the (pay) phone to Grandpa, who told us who to talk to and where to find them. We were put up in a hotel overnight and on standby for a flight the following morning. Caught our flight with no problem. Now, when no one would send a kid anywhere without a cell phone, I would have no problem with this situation. This is how kids learn.

    And the $10 voucher- that was never intended to cover the cost of all needed meals. That’s the airlines “compensation” for your trouble. If the kid did not have enough cash on him to cover emergencies, then shame on whoever put him on the plane!

  22. WendyW January 17, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    To add to my above post: I know the maturity difference between a 16yo girl and 13yo boy would be huge. I have a 13yo boy and I can easily see him being overwhelmed in this situation. That’s what cell phones are for.

    I just asked him his take on this. He was totally bemused that this anyone would make a big deal out of this!

  23. Jeff Craig January 17, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    This last Christmas, I witnessed the gate agent harass a girl who was probably about 12 because she was an unaccompanied minor, and I guess that particular airline allows parents or guardians through with minors who are travelling alone, but expects them to wait with the minor until they get on their plane.

  24. Michelle January 17, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    My daughter is 12, and the airlines have *required* that we elect the “unaccompanied minor” “service,” which in our case involves flight attendants checking on her on the flight numerous times, interrupting her solitary reading time.

    That said, it would be the *right* thing for the airline personnel to pay some attention to anyone who might need a little assistance in the case of a flight delay..

  25. Jenny Islander January 17, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    What kind of danger was he in exactly? If he didn’t have a cell phone, did some obscure regulation forbid him from calling relatives for help from a gate attendant’s phone? Does this airport have a problem with sexual predators enduring security checks in order to lurk near the gates in hopes of spotting an unaccompanied minor too timid to set up a huge stink when some stranger wants them to leave the airport in the town they’re trying to get out of?

    If the kid had done something spectacularly stupid, like, I dunno, tried to ride the baggage carousel, that would have been news.

    As others have said, the real story is that he was expected to stretch ten bucks to cover two meals in an airport.

  26. Melissa January 17, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Airlines have contracts for bad weather and cancelled flight stays with hotels and travel agencies. There are only so many rooms in town or so many places they are contracted with. If it truly was a bad weather night but that time, most of these were probably booked up.

  27. Warren January 17, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    Alot of people are losing something here. The newspaper sensationalized it by saying overnight. 2am to 10am in my opinion is not overnight. And yes at 2am, I would only be thinking the airline is concerned about covering breakfast.

    Next, the boy would be in an area that is beyond security, so only those cleared are in there. Not out with the masses.

    If a 13 year old is travelling alone, I assume he has thinks to entertain himself, and would use them.

    My kid at that age would either call with a cellphone, or make a collect call from a payphone. To let us know what was going on, and then again in the morning to let us know she was on her way.

  28. Jenn January 17, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    This article jumped out at me, because we are trying to book our 14 year old a flight to Denver to visit my sister. I am less concerned with her getting stuck waiting a few hours and more concerned with the fact that at 14 half the airlines still want me to pay a babysitter (unaccompanied minor) fee. One airline even states the fee is for supervision and DIRECTTV SERVICE…um so I am paying you to put my capable bookworm of a child in front of a TV? no thanks!

  29. Emily January 17, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Another thing: How is it that these airlines expect people to pay for “unaccompanied minor” services for young people who are 12, 13, and 14 years old (and maybe even older), but also expect them to pay for an adult ticket for said young people? They shouldn’t be able to have it both ways.

  30. Rebecca January 17, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Make sure the kid has a cell phone and extra cash, and knows how to wisely use both. They’ll be fine.

    However, If it were me as an adult, I’d still be pissed. A $10 food voucher? Do they eat at the airport? Do they know how little that is? That would buy a cup of coffee and a donut – and that’s it.

  31. Lisa January 17, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    @Jenn, what airline are you looking at? From the United web site: “Children ages 12 to 17 have the option to pay the fee and use the unaccompanied minor service or they may travel as adults with no unaccompanied minor service provided.”
    I have one more year of paying that fee… and I can’t wait! My daughter, at age 6, was getting on a flight (the gate agent had called for pre-boarding. A girl who must have been 10 or 11 was clinging to her dad, not crying but clearly reluctant. I was at the gate, and was trying to remind my very young child to behave, not be too loud, not bother anyone, make sure she remembered to put her stuff back in her carry-on and not forget anything on the plane, etc. She pulled away from me, and with all the confidence in the world said “Mom! I know, I know, I know. I have to get on my plane now!”. The gate agent thought she was just hilarious, and said to me afterwards “she’s done this before, hasn’t she?” Other than getting her something to drink (which they do for all passengers), she did not interact with the flight attendants at all. I am not sure what, exactly, I’m paying for – an airplane is just about the safest place I can think of – it’s a controlled area, kids can’t exactly wander off. There were adults for her at both ends of the trip, at the gate. So it is to escort them down the breezeway, which is a walkway with only one place to go in which they couldn’t possibly get lost? Or to help them find their seats, which are numbered? What exactly does the fee pay for? Supervision… but don’t parents know best whether a particular child needs to be supervised?

  32. Neil M January 17, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    Personally, I can’t think of a safer place than an airport, which is always occupied with security *everywhere*. Not the most comfortable place to spend an evening, I grant you, but then neither was the sidewalk in front of the TLA where as a teen I slept one night so I could get tickets to a concert the next day. And I didn’t even get a lousy $10 food voucher!

  33. E. Simms January 17, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    @Cynthia “…. if they’d transported them to a hotel, they’d have been in their rooms for less than 4-5 hours by the time they deplaned, been transported, checked in with dozens of fellow passengers, checked out, been transported back, gone through airport security, and been at the gate the required time before departure again…”

    Exactly, 4-5 hours IF they knew for certain that the plane wouldn’t take off until 10am. If the weather cleared up, the plane could have taken off much earlier. I would never consider going to a hotel in these circumstances, especially with the prospect of going through security an extra time.

    I usually agree with Lenore, but I think she blew it this time. There was nothing wrong with the airline’s response. However, the grandfather needs to get a grip.

  34. Meg January 17, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    Ha. If he had packed his Nintendo DS Lite, he would not have even noticed it had been 8 hours. Just saying.

  35. Jenne January 17, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    This is a situation where a little basic empathy (for a minor or anyone unused to travelling alone by air) could have made a big difference to anyone thrown in this situation. Of course the airline wouldn’t have had consideration for anyone of any age in this situation, and it’s bad customer service. If you don’t know your way around, you’re literally trapped in a nearly-deserted airport, the staff have all left, and you’re supposed to find someplace that’s open in order to get food with your $10 voucher, and you’ve already been indoctrinated with the ‘never take your eyes off anything you have with you,’ it can seem a bit scary (ok, not for people from Manhattan, obviously; but not everyone’s from Manhattan.)

  36. mmm January 17, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

    Much safer (in terms of getting on the delayed flight on time, not in terms of danger) for the kid to stay at the airport than for him to have to find his way to a hotel, check in, wake up on time, find his way back to the airport, get back through security, etc. That would be a pain in the butt even for an adult. Plus there could be notifications, gate changes, etc. that he would want to be at the airport to hear.

    Also, kid, if you are scared to be left “alone” in that situation, call your parents, or your grandfather. Certainly a flight attendant would have let him use the phone, if he had no other way to call.

  37. missjanenc January 17, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    Most airlines require kids under 12 to fly UM (with the ID tag and signing in by adults dropping off/picking up) but after that they can fly on their own. I will never forget a few years ago my grandson, who was about six, was flying home to Baltimore from Charlotte, NC (one-hour flight) after a week’s visit. Waiting in the boarding area with us was a kid about 13 and his mom, also going to BWI. The mom had just spent several hundred dollars on a last-minute ticket because her baby boy was afraid to fly by himself. My grandson was incredulous and kept saying it would be okay and he didn’t need his mom. The older boy just looked sheepish but wouldn’t go without mommy. Unbelievable.

  38. Susan January 17, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    This exact situation happened last summer when we were traveling from Chicago to Dallas. We took off, flew for an hour, and then returned to Chicago due to weather in Dallas.

    There were two unaccompanied minors who were on that plane. They had been visiting their uncle in Chicago. The unaccompanied minors “service” consisted of calling the uncle back to the airport to get the kids when we landed back at Chicago. I would imagine a child with a cell phone could do the same thing (although, they would not have been able to call until after they landed, I suppose).

    They didn’t pay for our hotel either!

  39. Cin January 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    The only thing I’d be concerned about is the kid having his wallet or gaming stolen while sleeping — and that’s something you can walk him through on the phone (don’t put your bag down, hold it at all times.)

  40. Maggie January 17, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    I have a 10-year-old who hasn’t flown since she was 2. I asked her what she would do if we dropped her off at the airport, but after she boarded, there was a delay and they had to get off and wait until morning. She told me she would find a security guard and explain what had happened, and ask for help calling us. (She doesn’t have a cell phone yet)

  41. delurking January 17, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    When I was a young teenager, I got stuck in Amsterdam overnight because of a snowstorm on the east coast. My little brother was with me. We did fine. We went into town, got some dinner, stayed in a hotel, got back to the airport.

    As for the griping about the airline: It has been the case with all airlines since the beginning of time that airlines don’t compensate you for delays caused by weather, they only compensate you for delays they are at fault for.

  42. Nicole January 17, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    I’m not sure what you wanted to airline to do, just be nicer in their comment? Sorry that happened? Should they have got him and only him a hotel room? Frankly a 13yo is probably better equipped to sleep in a chair than an adult, and they’d recover faster. I can see it might be lonely, if everyone else ignored him or was able to go home, but it doesn’t really say what exactly happened. Like others said, he likely had stuff to entertain himself on the plane, so he could occupy himself with that.

  43. SusanOR January 17, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    I had a very different read than you, Lenore (and many commenters). I didn’t think the Air Canada spokesperson was cruel or saying the kid was at fault.

    I read her comments in a very Free-Range kids way: YOU HAVE TO KNOW YOUR KID. If this is a kid who might be scared having to deal with a delayed/cancelled flight, he probably wasn’t ready to be traveling unaccompanied. Or the parents should have run through how do you deal with XYZ situations before putting him on the plane (plane crash=unlikely, delayed or cancelled flight in winter=really? Pretty damn likely).

    Personally, it is why when traveling with my kid, I never book us on the last flight of the night from any airport — because flight delays happen a lot and I don’t want to deal with a kiddo in the late night/delay/perhaps we have to get a cheap hotel room & get almost no sleep anyway while still not having a guaranteed flight tomorrow situation.

    Weather happens. If the kid was really ready to travel unaccompanied, he would have called his parents or grandparents & they could have figured out options with AirCanada over the phone with him or told him what questions to ask.

    Sorry, I’m just not feeling the outrage here.

  44. hineata January 17, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    @Lisa – I wonder if the 11 year old girl was worried about flying, or just not wanting to say goodbye to Dad? My ‘midge’ is a very confident kid by herself, but still an absolute sook when it comes to saying goodbye to Mum or Dad at the start of a journey, and she’s 13….Also must be difficult for these kids whose parents live states apart, surely you’d get homesick for one or the other…

    Have watched too many movies about Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper no doubt, but I would be grateful if the airline cancelled a fight in bad weather. Agree with other posters that a 13 year old would probably be better off hanging out at the airport. Presumably Pearson doesn’t close at night? (Wellington does, but generally airport staff are friendly here, and someone would make sure the kid had somewhere to go).

    Am almost sorry that my kids will never get a chance at an adventure like this, as they have no need to fly anywhere alone . Midge would be fine left like this, as she would just play the ‘cute’ card – guaranteed assistance anywhere, the wee brat. The younger one, with the clothing she persists on insisting is suitable for an 11 year old, and would be in as soon as we saw her off on the plane, would probably be sold off into prostitution somewhere. All brains, zero commonsense – the kind of child, on second thoughts, that at this stage I wouldn’t be sending unaccomapanied anyway!

  45. Mike H. January 17, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    In the 70s when I was 11 and my brother was 9, we boarded a plane by ourselves. My parents were divorced and we lived a 4 hour drive from where my dad. Usually we traveled to one parent to another by car to an arranged meeting spot. For reasons I don’t recall it was decided to my brother and I would fly back from a visit with my dad.

    With no official unattended minor provisions, we were escorted ahead of the other passengers and bumped to first class seating. The flight attendants treated me and my brother quite well. They even seated us so when the cockpit door was opened we could see in and watch the pilots. For two young boys this was first class treatment indeed.

    Fast forward to 2008 and I’m flying with my wife and two small children. When we get our boarding passes, I see we’re all in different rows on a plan that’s fully booked. Mind you I am traveling with an infant and an autistic toddler. When we brought the problem up with airline personnel, we literally got a “figure it out for yourselves” response. In the end we did.

    So finally, I think this 13 year old boy left to fend for himself says more about the state of airline travel than anything else. In the effort to squeeze every last penny of profit, personnel is at a minimum. And there is every disincentive for airline personnel to treat passengers with care and a sense of doing what’s right naturally.

  46. Donna January 17, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    With parents who lived in separate states, one set of grandparents in the 3rd state and the other set of grandparents in a 4th state, I did a huge amount of plane travel unaccompanied starting at a young age. I HATED being considered an unaccompanied minor and used to intentionally ditch the flight attendants. They would tell me to wait for everyone else to get off so that they could escort me off the plane and I’d say “yeah right” and deplane as soon as possible and go about my business (maybe this is why all unaccompanied minors I’ve seen recently are in the back of the plane). Probably not the best choice but I HATED HATED HATED being babied when I probably knew the airports as well as the flight attendants by age 9.

    All things considered, this is a fairly minor inconvenience. Try being stuck in the Samoa airport equipped with nothing except benches (no air conditioning, carpet, cushioned chairs, food vendors or anything resembling a creature comfort) for 3 days because the single plane is broken and has been broken for 2 weeks and the airline really isn’t in a hurry to get you out of there (not me – luckily having Maya got us out in 6 hours – but met up with friends from home who had been there for 3 days already).

    I could see a 13 year old being totally bored in an airport for 8 hours, but that is about it.

  47. hineata January 17, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    @Donna – insane. Even the slow boat for the Tokelaus leaves Western Samoa more regularly than that, I think. Am surprised no food vendors set up, though – talk about a captive audience.

    Seriously, what are the local ferries like? More consistent than that plane, I’m betting. You really need to get to know a few canoe crews before you have to head back to the States. Worked for Kupe, who seems to have managed to tour most of the Pacific, but not sure what the currents are like between A. Samoa and the West Coast :-).

    Speaking of canoes, it’s funny that we worry about 13 year olds stuck in airports for 8 hours. A couple of years ago now 3 silly boys (14 and 15 year olds) from one atoll in the Tokelaus decided to take the atoll’s new boat (outboard or rowboat, can’t remember which now) and take it on a joyride to visit a girl on another atoll 800km to the south. Two months later someone finally found them, miles off course and worse for wear. The ‘authorities’ (who were basically their extended families) on the atoll they’d come from were happy enough to see them again, but mostly peed off about the state of the boat.

    Gee we need to stop babying our kids…

  48. Yan Seiner January 17, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    Unaccompanied minor service gets the kids into a kid’s lounge, where there are games, snacks, sofas, and attendants who will make sure you’re awake and on your plane.

    So yes, I’m Air Canada on this one: if you want the service, pay for it. If you don’t pay for the service, don’t whine about not getting it.

    The kid or his parents didn’t pay. Too bad so sad.

    The airline did what it could: paid for breakfast due to a delay. They did not even have to do that.

    I fly a lot; my kids fly a lot, and they fly unaccompanied. We have contingency plans for stuff like this that we rehearse with them. My kids have phones, they carry passports, they know what to do if they lose their passports or anything else.

    Sorry no sympathy for anyone. The kid seems to have handled this just fine, so chalk one up for the kid. The grownups should get a grip and grow up.

  49. Yan Seiner January 17, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    One other thing: I’m not sure if the parents didn’t lie when they bought the ticket. In the US you *must* pay the unaccompanied minor fee if the kid is 16 or younger. Not sure if Canada has the same rules, but if they do the parents must have lied when they purchased the ticket and bought an adult ticket for the child. Double no sympathy if this is the case.

  50. hineata January 17, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    @Yan – if they lied, could the kid have flown in the first place? We have no borders in NZ obviously, so no passports required, but some form of ID is necessary for travelling before boarding planes. Surely the kid needed his school ID or something?

  51. diamonds January 17, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    Honestly, if I were that 13 year old, a night alone in a big airport might be kind of fun! (aside from the inconvenience.) And if I was confused or worried about missing the plane, I would ask somebody on the same flight for help. Not really a big deal.

  52. Donna January 17, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    @ hineata – There are two airports in Western Samoa – the international one and the local one. We can fly to A. Samoa from either (if all the stars are aligned and planes are running). We were booked to never leave the international airport, but that airline (a single plane) wasn’t running so we had to go to the local airport for the other airline (I think they have 2 planes). The international airport is better, although still mostly unairconditioned and largely without much by way of food. We had a good lunch, since I was well aware of the lack of food in the Samoa airport and brought us Subway from the Auckland airport. 🙂

    There is a once-a-week ferry between the two Samoas. It takes 8 hours to get to A. Samoa (5 hours the other way) and I’ve heard it is absolutely brutal. But is it much more reliable.

  53. Donald January 17, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    Having to wait from 2am to 10am is a setback. It’s an inconvenience. Oh well, that’s the way life is sometimes. He’s 13. He’s a young adult. It’s in a warm airport terminal with lots of security. Pedophiles rarely troll for victims in a place like this. The airport could have given more than $10 but they didn’t

    Oh wait. I forgot. Some don’t consider people to be young adults until they are 25 years old. They think that 13 year old’s are helpless morons that are scarred for life if they face a disappointment.

  54. Taradlion January 17, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    @Yan, I’m not sure about the UM cushy “lounge” for those that pay a fee. I looked up the policy for Air Canada. It is required for kids 8-11 to have UM service, it is available for 12-17 (17!) year olds. Children under 8 must travel with adult (over age 16….so presumably, there could be a 16 year old acting AS a chaperone and one WITH a chaperone on the same flight). Air Canada says parent/guardian must stay at the airport until flight takes off. It suggests kids have snack and something to do in case of delay.

    It does not say anything about what will happen if flight is turned back (or has to be diverted)…maybe an airline employee could take the child and stay with them in the hotel room (ha!). Seriously, I assume even if an employee stayed with a kid who paid the fee at the airport, it is not do different than the kid parking it near an airport employee working.

    Kid should have had some extra snacks and emergency funds, a book and/or electronic entertainment (with charger). Who ever dropped him could have been called (by the 13 year old himself) and helped to decide what (if anything) to do IF the 13 year old was even phased by this.

  55. Yan Seiner January 17, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    Every time my kids flew unaccompanied, they got to stay in a nice lounge. Part of that fee goes for a chaperone; the kids are never left alone. That’s what you pay for. If you want a chaperone, pay for one.

    If you choose not to pay for a chaperone, don’t expect the airline to provide one.

    The parents chose to treat their son as an adult. So did the airline. I still don’t see the conflict.

  56. anji January 17, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    Many years ago my nephew flew from my house in Nevada to his home in Indiana. He was 9 at the time and we paid for the chaperone. As luck would have it, the plane was diverted to Ohio (I don’t remember why) and he ended up at the airport there for several hours. He was never left alone the entire time. The chaperone made sure he had something to eat, and even took him into the “belly” of the airport so he could see the baggage area, etc. He had a blast. My daughter flew by herself from the time she was 8. I paid the fee, (which on the airline we flew, was on $20) even after I was not required to, not for the routine flight, but just in case the flight was diverted overnight. I’m not sure how willing I would be to pay it if it was $100!

  57. Lisa January 17, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

    @Yan, I think it is up to each airline. Taradlion listed the Air Canada rules. United Airline allows unaccompanied minors as young as 5, and requires it for kids ages 5-11 (ages 12-17 can choose to travel as an UM for the fee, or can travel as an adult without airline supervision). I looked earlier, though, and it seems that Delta and JetBlue require it up to age 14. I don’t think the parents lied; they just chose an airline with rules different from the one you were looking at.
    I do agree with you on this: “The parents chose to treat their son as an adult. So did the airline. I still don’t see the conflict.”

  58. Donna January 17, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    Whether there is a nice lounge depends on the airline and the airport. For example, Delta has one but only at a handful of airports. I seriously doubt any airline has one at every airport that they fly into so it is going to be a hit or miss benefit.

    Delta also makes it mandatory until age 14 and it costs $100. I have a real problem with an airline making something mandatory AND then charging you for it (especially something that I don’t want to start with). It needs to be either optional or free.

  59. Jemma January 17, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

    2:00 am to 10:00 am is not “overnight”; it’s early I the morning until late morning. I don’t think it’s true that the kid was scared. I think the grandpa was needlessly worrying (and I forgive grandpas easily). My kids fly alone and this is a good lesson to prepare them that this could happen especially if they connect. Something like 9-11, heaven forbid, would have been a bigger problem (grounded in between arrival and destination points with no relatives nearby) but that would be worst case. And at times like those we as a society tend to be extra helpful to strangers.

  60. Yan Seiner January 17, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    No doubt the rules are different depending on the airline and on the country of origin. I know that some airlines (Delta, British Airways) will only route UM through hubs where they have lounges for them. They will not accept UM on routes that don’t have the lounges.

    I don’t like paying the premium for UM either, but so it goes.

  61. Yan Seiner January 17, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    One other random thought on the UM requirements: My kids have only flown internationally as UM, so at a guess the rules are much stricter flying from, say, Prague, CR to Tokyo, Japan than from Newark, NY to Pittsburg, PA.

  62. Jemma January 17, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    Also FYI for LITTlE kids flying alone nothing beats Southwest whose flight attendants strike me as people who would rather be camp counselors. My kids would come home with narratives about how great “Kayla” or “Josh” was.

  63. Donna January 17, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

    @ Yan – What airlines are you flying? I don’t see a single US airline that makes the unaccompanied minor program mandatory until 16. Some require it until 14; others until only 11 but none until 16.

  64. Yan Seiner January 17, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    @Donna: Hmmmm.. Maybe the rules have changed? I just checked, and it’s 14. I know it used to be 16 for Delta on international flights; I had to pay it and I argued with Delta over it.

  65. Donna January 17, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    The problem with “so it goes ” is that you choose to fly your kids around. Don’t want to pay; don’t fly. But hundreds of thousands of kids have to fly many times a year alone. Divorced parents who live in separate states are still required to accomplish visitation or run the risk of getting sanctioned by the court, up to having custody removed from them and given to the other parent. If the parent responsible for paying can’t afford to pay $100 on top of the plane ticket, s/he is screwed.

  66. Gina January 17, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

    Lenore..I’m a little confused by this all. I agree that most 13-year-olds would be fine alone at the airport. But I also agree with the airline that a parent who thinks THEIR 13-year-old wouldn’t do well with a change in the plan should have an escort. They are correct: Some kids are seasoned travelers who can handle a disruption or change; some are not. It goes back to knowing your child. I have 5 kids. I know that three of them would’ve done fine under these circumstances. I know that two of them would NOT have been ok. It doesn’t seem to be a FreeRange issue in that the airline does allow kids to fly unescorted and asks parents to make the decision for their own child on a case-by-case basis. That said, I think the grandfather is out of line because he/the parents DID allow the child to fly alone and therefore should assume that he (the kid) can handle whatever situation arises and not expect the airline to babysit.

  67. Dmd January 17, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

    If the granddad is to be believed, it sounds like the kid was not used to traveling alone & was scared. Depending on the kid (& mine has anxiety issues) the UM fee may’ e been the way to go unt he was used to flying.

  68. MaeMae January 17, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

    My 14 year old flew from Pittsburgh to Seattle by herself last summer. I had to purchase the unaccompanied minor escort or she couldn’t fly. That’s all it was, an escort. Nothing else. I fail to see how having it would have helped unless that airline differs from AA.

    Furthermore, American wouldn’t even let her catch a connecting flight, even with the unaccompanied minor ticket, because of her age so she couldn’t even fly out of our airport in NY. I had to drive her to Philly. I still don’t understand what they made me purchase. It’s just a scam.

  69. Kimberly January 17, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    My Mom was from Canada. One of the reasons sis and I never flew up without our parents is this senario. What would we do when (not if – when*) Air Canada stranded us in Chicago, Boston, or Toronto? Actually Toronto was easy we had 3 or 4 households of relatives. My parents didn’t want us sleeping or more likely not sleeping in the airport. (We are not very coherent on lack of sleep). Since most hotels will not allow people under 18 or 21 to check in by themselves, we would be stuck.

    The other reason was my Mom was held for kidnapping her boss’s kids in either Toronto or Montreal. They had 5 – 7 kids and never flew the entire family on one flight. They offered to pay Mom’s ticket home from Houston if she would fly with the oldest two kids. Dad and a couple of the kids took off on the first flight of the day. Mom followed on the 2nd flight. Mom and some of the kids followed her. Plan was for Dad to be there when they got off the flight – except his flight was diverted. Mom landed without Dad there to meet them and Customs held them until the Mom got there.

  70. Donald January 18, 2013 at 12:39 am #

    I didn’t read it as though the airline was blaming the parents. They were probably under fire and so they simply replied.

    ‘When children travel by airline, the parents should determine if they are mature enough to do this by themselves. If not, we have a service that looks after unaccompanied minors.’

    It sounds like the parents determined that their child was mature enough to travel without this service and then later changed their mind.

  71. johnf January 18, 2013 at 1:19 am #

    @MaeMae – Southwest flies that route, and they they don’t require, or even offer, UM service for kids 12 and over. For a 14 year old, the only thing they do different than an adult is they ask for parent contact information during booking.

  72. hineata January 18, 2013 at 2:11 am #

    I would personally like to see escorts for the elderly or the chronically poor-at-directions. Maybe airlines have those….My mum is both, and was lucky to get out of Frankfurt at all, seeing she couldn’t work out which direction to go even within the airport, LOL. I would trust most thirteen year olds before her anytime….Maybe the grandfather was putting his own fears on the kid.

  73. Donna January 18, 2013 at 2:40 am #

    @MaeMae – I agree that it is totally a money-making scam. An adult must walk the child to the gate and wait there until the plane leaves. Another adult must pick the child up at the gate and walk her out of the airport. So, on a direct flight, you are essentially paying $100 for someone to walk your child down an enclosed walkway that provides no possible way of getting lost. WTF!!

  74. Tsu Dho Nimh January 18, 2013 at 7:34 am #

    @Kimberley Plan was for Dad to be there when they got off the flight – except his flight was diverted. Mom landed without Dad there to meet them and Customs held them until the Mom got there.

    All you need is a notarized travel permission – signed by both parents – giving whoever is the adult in charge permission to take the children across the border between A and B. Any embassy, consulate or international airline can get you the form.

    It makes taking the kids to _insert foreign country__ where dad is working a lot easier.

  75. Katie January 18, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    I despise Canadian and American airlines. They are cheap jerks. In France my Luthansa flight was delayed for a few hours during the daytime and they provided free lunch for everybody and even happily got me a vegetarian sandwich and when the flight was ready sooner then expected they packed everything up for an extra meal on the plane (in addition to the other meal).

    If they felt a chaperon was needed then they should provide one free of charge. Trying to use this to promote there program…they should be on their knees apologizing and give them free flights for life(or at least a free flight or two).

  76. Emily January 18, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

    @Hineata–Are you sure you can’t call the airline and ask for an escort for your mother when she flies, and offer to pay the Unaccompanied Minor fee, but not call it that? Just because something isn’t offered officially, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. If enough people ask, then it might become an official airline service in a few years. In any case, the worst thing they could tell you is no, and then you’d be no worse off than you are now.

  77. hineata January 18, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    @Emily – good point. If she goes again, we just might. Would certainly safe concern on our part.

    Am happy to free range my kids, it’s the other end of the life cycle that seens more of a worry!

  78. baby-paramedic January 18, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

    I fly alot. I would be fairly irate if I was left stranded without a hotel due to bad weather. Often my budget does not extend to an airport-hotel. It has only come close to happening once, every other time I have been put up.

  79. Donna January 19, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    Baby-paramedic – At least on the US, it is very uncommon for airlines to put people up for flights cancelled due to bad weather. They will give you a voucher for a special discounted rate at a local hotel, but that is it. Why exactly should they get you a hotel? Bad weather is not their fault and making them responsible for lodging for 200+ people is a good way to encourage flights in unsafe conditions. I can see being irate at life but I fail to see where the airline has any responsibility for weather whatsoever.

    My most recent vacation involved a major cyclone (aka hurricane), left behind luggage and broken planes. It was all extremely stressful, but such is life when traveling. If you can’t roll with the punches you should not travel … or buy travel insurance which would cover a room. And from personal experience, airports are much better to sleep in than Italian train stations.

  80. hineata January 19, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    @ Donna – but I bet the men are better looking in the Italian railway stations, LOL! At least than the kind you find at Wellington airport :-).

  81. baby-paramedic January 20, 2013 at 12:45 am #

    Because I am paying for a service that has not been delivered, and refuse to be financially disadvantaged due to a failure of service delivery. Waiting in an airport for several hours = not financially disadvantaging (in the majority of circumstances), being forced to a hotel (many airports in Australia shut after 10pm) is financially disadvantaging.

    And thus, I have been put up every time (once I wasnt going to be, but thats because I was flying el cheapo airline as work booked it, not me, and they didnt pay the extra money for the flight insurance required. Thankfully people on the other delayed flight offered me the lounge in their provided accom).

  82. Jynet January 20, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

    So I have two ‘Canadian Airline’ stories to share here… one including my 15 year old daughter stranded at Pearson!

    A few years ago Air Canada stranded my daughter at Pearson when she was 15. They bumped her off two flights and then didn’t make sure she got on the last flight of the night. She ended up spending about 10 hours at the airport before I called friends who live about an hour away to come rescue her for the night, and they got her on a 8 am flight the next morning. Total about 20 hours. I didn’t go to the media with it, but I did go to Air Canada. We got a flight credit for the full amount of her fare.

    Compare that to my experience with WestJet this summer. I’m a 40 yo woman with no special needs. I was booked out of a suburban Vancouver area airport and learned that my flight would be delayed 4 hours getting me home about 2 am. I asked if I could fly out of Vancouver International any earlier and they said no, but they could get me on a 7am flight from there, giving me the chance for a full night’s sleep at least. They paid for my cab from airport to airport (over $100), my hotel room (also over $100), AND gave me the $10 food credit for breakfast at the airport the next morning. They quite easily could have told me no, the weather wasn’t their fault, or told me that if I could get there on my own they’d switch my flight (what I expected actually), but they went above and beyond.

    What Air Canada did in this situation was not only a great deal below what WestJet did. It was actually against their own rules! If you read the Tariff (ie, the contract between you and Air Canada when you buy a ticket to travel on one of their planes) you will find that they consider elderly, disabled, and young people between 12 and 18 years old travelling without their parents to be people who need extra consideration when flights are delayed or detoured. Not just sent off into the airport with a $10 food credit!

  83. Sarah January 20, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

    I’m having difficulty seeing what the problem is with the statement from Air Canada. They’re saying that if parents want a higher level of supervision for unaccompanied minors, they should pay for that. If they don’t want it, then don’t pay for it.

    If, however, you suddenly decide you want a higher level of supervision than you actually got, you don’t then get to complain that you should have got it for free.

    Air Canada seems to have decided that a 13 year old was capable of handling 8 hours overnight in an airport. They seem to have been correct.

  84. Maria January 21, 2013 at 1:59 am #

    When I was 12, my parents put me on a plane, alone, to travel from the US to Cyprus. At the end of the summer, me relatives put me on a plane, alone, to travel back. This was during the worldwide airline strike of 1976 and I ended up stranded in London for about 16 hours and then put on a plane to NY. My parents figured out, based on flight times, that this would leave me stranded in NY overnight so they drove up from Maryland to pick me up. My firswt reaction upon seeig them In NY was “what are you doing here?” My parentls complained to no-one, they just put me in the car and drove me home. They didn’t call teh press, they didn’t threaten to sue.

  85. Scott January 22, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    I spent the night in Hong Kong by myself when I was 10 years old because the connecting flight was leaving the next morning. The attractive Chinese stewardesses took pity upon me and brought me with them to their hotel room where I stayed on a cot.

    I guess this sort of stuff must sound like kids talking about being raised in coal mines back in the old days.

  86. pottymouthmommy February 3, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    And what exactly would the “unaccompanied minor” program would have done exactly? My 11 year old has flown using air canada’s “unaccompanied minor” policy twice now. Just this past summer her flight was delayed. My husband had stuck around just in case and was horrified to discover that the “attendant” who was supposed to have been watching our child LOST HER!!! My husband was still in the airport, (thankfully past security, who wouldn’t have let him back in to help find her!) and she was found within minutes. No harm, no foul. Except that the airport staff and the attendant who was in charge of supervising my daughter took ZERO responsibility for their mistake. They were supposed to be watching her and didn’t. And they didn’t care. Their reaction when my husband asked how the hell she’d been allowed to just wander off- “well you should have stayed until the plane left” um… technically, the plane HAD left. They came back and deboarded. When we called Air Canada to make a complaint we were told the same thing. It was OUR fault that they weren’t watching our child, even after paying them to do so.

    We have/had no intention of suing, we didn’t even ask for our $100 back. I just wanted to point out that it’s Air Canada policy to blame the parent- in this case the parent is at fault for NOT paying the $100… I wonder what their excuse would have been if they HAD paid the “UM” fee???