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Did the parents do enough to ensure her safety? 10-Year-Old Girl Goes Missing After Flying Alone on United Airlines

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At what age is it appropriate to let a child fly alone on an airplane? This is the newest debate after Annie and Perry Klebahn’s 10-year-old daughter, Phoebe, missed her United Airlines plane connection because the third-party unaccompanied minor service representative had “simply forgotten to show up.”

Phoebe’s parents “only knew their daughter did not make it when her summer camp in Michigan called to say she hadn’t arrived.”

Once she was discovered “missing,” it took an additional hour to find her!

“Apparently when the flight landed, she asked the flight attendants for help, but they told her they were busy and she needed to wait. She also asked thrice for access to a phone to call her parents, but was allegedly also told to wait.”

This is not the first time an airline has failed to provide sufficient care of an unaccompanied minor, and it probably won’t be the last. Her parents could have purchased a direct flight, or provided her with a cell phone for this trip; regardless, the main point is that this unaccompanied minor was, well, unaccompanied!

At what age would you allow your child to fly on a plane unaccompanied? 

 

*Note from the Author: This blog's intention is not to defame any specific airline. I would've written the same blog if it had been Delta, Airtran, or any other airline. This blog is just my opinion, as a mother who is terrified to place her child on ANY airline alone, especially after reading this news story.*


http://www.everydayfamily.com/blog/10-year-old-girl-goes-missing-after-flying-alone-on-united-airlines/?utm_medium=rss&utm_source=outbrain&utm_campaign=articles&tc=120043&subid=articles&utm_term=US
by on Jan. 18, 2013 at 10:04 PM
Replies (21-30):
Zawifey
by Member on Jan. 18, 2013 at 10:56 PM

 My niece goes to her moms several times a year and always flies by herself from the west coast to the east coast. She just turned 8. There is no way in hell I would ever think that is ok.

nb34
by Gold Member on Jan. 18, 2013 at 10:57 PM

I certainly don't trust any of the American airlines with my children. Customer service is practically non -existent in US airlines these days. I don't trust them with my luggage, why would I trust them with my child? Ten is also too young to fly alone anyways.

ballerina18
by Member on Jan. 18, 2013 at 10:57 PM
1 mom liked this

Agreed! I can't imagine letting my child fly alone before the age of 16. Even then my daughter would have a direct flight and a cell phone.

Quoting Paperfishies:

Under 16 is too young to fly alone.



SEEKEROFSHELLS
by Platinum Member on Jan. 18, 2013 at 10:57 PM

 Oh Geez, what a story! Flying international and losing your passport. Foreign exchange students that were flying in to meet us....well it was always worrisome for me. Where are they? Did they make all the connections? Hell, did they lose their passport? LOL They always got here! Darn at 11 you went through all that. Geez what a story! lol 


Quoting Ziva65:

I wouldn't have sent them.
Seems time parents assume the risk by having a child fly alone at that age.

I flew to Vancouver Canada from San Francisco at age 11. It was a direct flight. I was really sheltered too. In those days, the airline had me escorted completely by a Stewadess. The problem was I seemed to have lost my passport in the process...scary, was led away by the police as a runaway, even with the stewardess and papers...it was an international flight. Thankfully, my uncle up there came to get me and straightened it all out. That was over 40 years ago. I still remember that feeling. I laugh now, but I do feel bad for that poor kid.

Could be worse though



paknari
by on Jan. 18, 2013 at 11:00 PM
I would r allow my kid to fly without a cell phone and they would know I call me if there was an issue.
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Bookwormy
by Platinum Member on Jan. 18, 2013 at 11:01 PM
I can tell that I don't like your dad.


Quoting young_lv_mom:

He is a dick, he one time lied and told them I had cancer to get a non refundable ticket refunded. A month later my mom had hell fixing the mess up because they put me on the no fly list because of him. Anything to save a buck.

Quoting Bookwormy:

I flew alone several times after my parents seperated, but they were always direct flights. Why did your father hate direct flights. I certainly prefer them!





Quoting young_lv_mom:

I had to travel at least twice a year on my own from the time I was 12 till 17 from FL to NV, and my father hated direct flights. They can be scary, however they say they will help when needed (and did for me when I was traveling), I think it was the airlines fault on this one. They even have special things in place for unaccompanied minors flying.





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momtimesx4
by Silver Member on Jan. 18, 2013 at 11:04 PM


Keep in mind that flying is really no different from getting on a Greyhound Bus.  Hence the aircraft manufacuter's name Airbus.  One method just gets you there a bit faster.

Quoting nb34:

I certainly don't trust any of the American airlines with my children. Customer service is practically non -existent in US airlines these days. I don't trust them with my luggage, why would I trust them with my child? Ten is also too young to fly alone anyways.



greenie63
by Silver Member on Jan. 18, 2013 at 11:30 PM
1 mom liked this

This story has me wanting to know how the unaccompanied minor program failed. I ask that because i worked for Northwest Airlines (now Delta), for many years. I booked many, too many to count, flights for unaccompanied minors. There were many extreme details we were required to complete, many many rules to ensure the child's safety. We never did a 3rd party arrangement for this program, which may be some kind of cost cutting measure for United, which there shouldn't be with minors. The child while on the plane is required to be in the care of the flight attendants who will transfer the child to an airline rep in the connecting city, then to the next flight attendant on the next plane. Upon arrival at the final destination, flight attendants will release the child to the person specified on the reservation, who will already have obtained a gate pass.The child cannot fly after 9pm on any flight, including the connecting city. The child cannot fly on the last connecting flight in case there's a delay or cancellation. The program works very well, but I wonder how this failed. In this case, no the parents are not at fault in any way, but the airline failed and I guarantee you the airline already made a settlement. 

Now there are parents who choose to not put their children in the unaccompanied minor program, since there are fees involved, but the child has to be  over 15 to be optional. From ages 5-14 they are required to be in the program. 

I've gotten those terrifying calls from parents who cannot find their child and they were always over 15 and chose not to use the program. Every time I've found the child and stayed on the phone with the parents until we found the child. Once the child was found, I would do a 3 way conversation with the parents, child and myself to relieve the fear. 

Sometimes non-stop flights are not able to be booked, so either a direct flight, or connecting flight was necessary. By the way there's a difference between non-stop and direct flights. A non-stop is exactly that non-stop from point A to point B. A direct flight will land, but the passenger does not leave the plane, they will have passenger's get off and others get on, then traveling to it's final destination. 


smalltowngal
by Platinum Member on Jan. 18, 2013 at 11:37 PM



Quoting momtimesx4:



Quoting smalltowngal:

The airlines should actually be able to provide help when someone asks for it. Is it really that had for a flight attendant to help a child for 2 minutes? 


Flght attendants were prepping the plane for the next flight and only paid when the plane is wheels up and in the air.

One of the parents should have flown with her to ensure that she got to the summer camp.  


There is no airline offcial to direct a lost kid to then? Someone who will help?


JMmama
by Bronze Member on Jan. 18, 2013 at 11:39 PM
Exactly this. I flew on my own to summer camp in Minnesota starting in about 7th grade. I just got on the plane in my hometown and flew to the Minneapolis/St Paul airport and then the camp had a counselor at the gate to pick us up. Later, I worked for the camp and part of what I did was the airport pickups for incoming campers. Some kids flew as unaccompanied minors and there was a process for picking them up. My friend's stepson also flies a lot as an unaccompanied minor and, again, there is a lot involved. The airline dropped the ball here big time.

Quoting greenie63:

This story has me wanting to know how the unaccompanied minor program failed. I ask that because i worked for Northwest Airlines (now Delta), for many years. I booked many, too many to count, flights for unaccompanied minors. There were many extreme details we were required to complete, many many rules to ensure the child's safety. We never did a 3rd party arrangement for this program, which may be some kind of cost cutting measure for United, which there shouldn't be with minors. The child while on the plane is required to be in the care of the flight attendants who will transfer the child to an airline rep in the connecting city, then to the next flight attendant on the next plane. Upon arrival at the final destination, flight attendants will release the child to the person specified on the reservation, who will already have obtained a gate pass.The child cannot fly after 9pm on any flight, including the connecting city. The child cannot fly on the last connecting flight in case there's a delay or cancellation. The program works very well, but I wonder how this failed. In this case, no the parents are not at fault in any way, but the airline failed and I guarantee you the airline already made a settlement. 

Now there are parents who choose to not put their children in the unaccompanied minor program, since there are fees involved, but the child has to be  over 15 to be optional. From ages 5-14 they are required to be in the program. 

I've gotten those terrifying calls from parents who cannot find their child and they were always over 15 and chose not to use the program. Every time I've found the child and stayed on the phone with the parents until we found the child. Once the child was found, I would do a 3 way conversation with the parents, child and myself to relieve the fear. 

Sometimes non-stop flights are not able to be booked, so either a direct flight, or connecting flight was necessary. By the way there's a difference between non-stop and direct flights. A non-stop is exactly that non-stop from point A to point B. A direct flight will land, but the passenger does not leave the plane, they will have passenger's get off and others get on, then traveling to it's final destination. 


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