Advice For Teens Flying Alone?

So both of my teenagers are flying alone this summer. Eek!

On Memorial Day, my 15 year-old son is flying from Tucson to Maui with an hour to change planes in Dallas. Is that enough time? What should I tell him to do if he misses his flight? His only plan of action in that case is to call me or his father. He has flown many times before, but not by himself. He adamantly refuses to have an escort to help him. He insists on doing this by himself.

As does his 13 year-old brother, who, at the end of June, is flying alone from Tucson to Charlotte, NC. He has also flown a lot more than I have, but never alone.

I’m a little freaked by it all, as I’m just a wee bit overprotective of them. My first reaction was “OMG! What if somebody tries to touch your pee-pee?!” Haha, joking. Kind of.

Anybody have any advice for me to tell them?

You’ve said they don’t want an “escort” but I would recommend that when they board they inform one of the flight attendents that they have to make a connecting flight. That way the flight attendent may be able to help them get off the plane quickly in Dallas.

I flew alone at age 10, twice at age 15, and age 18. And I went overseas all four times. I also flew alone at 17, where I flew across country. It was remarkably easy. It’s good for the independence teaching.

Sure, an hour is enough time for changing flights. (I get really bitter, by the way, that you have to change flights across the country. But what can you do?)

Have them stay near adults at all times. Groups of adults. This shouldn’t be hard. On the plane is no problem whatsoever.

Do they have cell phones? In this day and age there’s so much less fear if they can just call you.

Also just tell them common sense things - keep their money hidden, keep boarding pass out, etc.

Good luck and don’t worry. They’ll remember it as a great adventure while you gnaw your nails off. :slight_smile:

I flew from New York to Rome, Italy with a connecting flight in Philadelphia when I was twelve. The escort provided by the airlines isn’t an escort who travels with you, but what you described, a flight attendant to make sure you can find your flight on time and whatnot. At fifteen, your son can probably manage on his own. But I think it’s the rule to inform the flight attendants if there’s a minor traveling alone, anyway.

I flew alone from New York to Rome, Italy with a connecting flight in Philadelphia when I was twelve. The escort provided by the airlines isn’t an escort who travels with you, but what you described, a flight attendant to make sure you can find your flight on time and whatnot. At fifteen, your son can probably manage on his own. But I think it’s the rule to inform the flight attendants if there’s a minor traveling alone, anyway.

I wouldn’t suggest “adults” so much as “families.” Groups of adults can be just as nefarious as single adults.

In fact I would even suggest pretending he is with a travelling family while he waits. Plop himself down in a chair close enough to a family with some kids so it looks like he’s their Uninterested Teenage Son Who Is Sitting Just Over There.

Also let him know that if anything (Og forbid) should happen such as a stranger grabbing him, an airport is one of the best places in the world to scream your head off and get immediate attention from security.

But what on earth could they do? In a group, I mean. And generaly I found that airline travelers are the most self-involved people in the world…barely notice you. I really don’t think there’s any danger on a trip like this.

Anyway, when I went overseas I usually tried to attach myself to some Granny lady. We’d both benefit. I’d help her get to the right flight and translate from English to Hindi for her, and it would look like I was with her.

Tuson AZ to Maui HI with a layover in DALLAS? HE’S GOING THE WRONG WAY!
The hour shoudn’t be a problem. Dallas is a big airport but you can find out the arrival and departing gates and check out a map with him to show him how far he has to go and he’ll be fine.

And if, God forbid, he misses the second plane, what he has to do is talk with the attendants from the company (his first flight if possible) asap. They may be able to get him into the next flight going the same way and will look for other options if that one is not available.

has he done the dallas connection before. I’ve never been but sometimes big airports can take a long time to get from arrival gate to departure gate.

An awful lot of parents like myself that travel a lot tend to keep an eye on stray youngsters. Offer help if someone’s starting to look confused. Since 9-11, serious business travellers IMHO tend to keep an eye out for anything unusual and the tolerance for old style drunk or obnoxious behavior is waaaaaay down. FWIW, your boys will probably have a guardian angle in reserve if that makes you feel better.

Thinking back to my teenage years, you might want to remind them that airline and airport security are extremely humorless and have the ability to be a major disruption in one’s travel plans, so they should rein in the natural teen tendency to be wise-asses.

No capes!

Damn you.

Beat me to it.

When I was four, in 1971, my family packed me on a plane, waved bye-bye, and two hours later I walked off the plane, towards my grandparents.

True it wasn’t a layover, but I’m not too sure what the big deal is. Especially for the 13 year-old.

An hours time is plenty at Dallas to get from one plane to the other. Tell him he can’t dawdle (get a drink, look at magazines, etc) until he gets to the departure gate and checks on boarding times.

Sounds to me like he’s flying American.

If he is flying American, make sure he knows about the TRAAIN (or have they finally got that external thing up and running?) Getting through DFW is not fun if you’re trying to make a fast connection, especially if that thing is down. I once had to run 80 gates in 20 minutes to make my flight home (plane was one of those little props, so I got into the A-terminal at that little downstairs bit and had to go all the way to the other end of C-terminal, like gate 40, to catch my flight to Albuquerque. I really, really hate DFW.)

Flying’s a piece of cake and he’s got an easy trip. Remind me to tell you some of my stories of trying to get home from college.

Is it Dallas-Fort Worth?

here is a Terminal Map – I’d show and make sure he understands where he is landing and where he needs to go – where the bathrooms are and where the phones are.

If it is another airport here is another link for Dallas

You should have a list of the next 2-3 flights if he misses the connection and so you can say “OK we can try to get you on the 10:15 USAIR, if not there is a 1130 United …” You be prepared as you can

I think a 15 y.o. in an airport is usually going to be OK… you would probably let him go alone to a shop or snack bar while you sat at the gate waiting to board. Just think of it as you are sitting much, much (much) further away.

Count me among those who believe that a 13-year-old of even average capabilities should have no trouble flying alone. I routinely did this from age 11 on and recall it as an interesting adventure with no difficulties worth mentioning.

DFW is a huge, nasty, disorganized pile o’crap. Definitely inform the airline (and have him inform the flight attendant) that he’s a minor and is transferring planes. They can have a tram waiting for him to be sure he makes his connection. If he still doesn’t make it (I mean, a really huge nasty disorganized pile), the ticket counter people should be able to help get him on another plane. I assume he’s got a cellphone to call you if it gets too nuts. And there’s always the Dallas Dopers (I know there are several) to call to the rescue, so relax.

If it’s not DFW, then an hour is more than enough time.

As someone said, remind them of the security restrictions and that they’d better behave, but that screaming should get excellent results if they’re truly in trouble. Aside from that, I wouldn’t worry too much.

Check for gremlins on the wing before boarding.

He’ll be fine. I’ve been flying alone since I was six. Around 14, the airline doesn’t keep quite as close a watch on you, but there will still be a flight attendant with her eye on him. They’ll most likely want to walk him (or drive him) to his connecting flight - the 13 year old, definitely, the 15 year old probably.

Make sure they each have an extra $50 cash in their pocket, just in case their ride doesn’t connect and they need to catch a cab at the airport. (Ogforbid their ride gets into an accident on the way to the airport and he has to take a cab to the hospital to meet him, or something weird.)

As teenaged boys, they should take along food for the flight. The airline’s pretzels will NOT tide a teenager over for two hours. Make sure they bring a bottle of water along and suggest they go easy on the sugary drinks for the day. There’s nothing worse than getting dehydrated on a plane.

They can bring their I-Pods/laptops/XPs, just make sure they know to listen to the flight attendant’s announcement for when to turn stuff off.

Is it possible for them to get away with one carryon and no checked bags? Fighting your way through the front to a baggage carrosel when everyone thinks you’re a punk-ass kid trying to make trouble can be more hassle than it’s worth. Baggage check has always been my albatross - I get so anxious, certain that they’ve lost my bags or that I’m waiting in the wrong place (of course when I was a kid, both happened at various times!).

Make sure they know to call you when the plane has landed so you can stop worrying. They’ll forget, of course, but tell them to anyway. That way you can blow off steam when you call them an hour later by yelling at them for not calling. :wink: