Empower Your Children With Solo Travel
Perhaps you have recently heard or read about a story of a Michigan mom who is suing Spirit Airlines for removing her 15 year old daughter from a flight without her knowledge. She is suing the airline for $75K for emotional distress after her daughter was removed from a flight without her knowledge.
I want to be clear that I am not judging this mother and her situation as I don’t know her, but felt it was a good opportunity to talk some common sense among travelers. To start, let me tell you what I would do if my 15 year old son was separated from me without me somehow noticing. I would be happy for him to get the experience. Don’t believe me? Read this!
First, do yourself a favor and read that article above. It has a lot of great thoughts on family travel and independence, but also it details how I sent my 15 year old son home from Germany BY HIMSELF. Did I have to do this? No, I actually purposely booked myself home a day later just so he could do it.
In the article above I wrote, “I know the worriers among you are ready to tell me to consider what would have happened if there was a problem. Well, the kid is 15. He will be on his own in a few years and I have confidence he would be able to handle it.”
So you can probably guess how I feel about this story. Again, I am not judging this specific mother, but this story is only coming to light after 11 months meaning she tried to get something more than a refund and miles from the airline and they refused. But more importantly I think this might be a missed opportunity for empowerment.
Great Learning Experience
My son flying from Germany with connections both in Europe and in the United States opened him up to being strong and independent. Yes, he traveled A LOT with me, but he never had to cross a border, determine how to make domestic or international connections or generally do anything for himself. Now, he can pretty much do it all even if he is still a bonehead sometimes when doing it. 🙂
Now, let me address this story specifically. Keep in mind we only have the mother’s side since Spirit is not commenting, however lets assume it is all true. We’ll assume the daughter told them that her mother and brother were on the plane and assume the Spirit Airlines employee ignored that. If that happened would I be upset? Yes, I probably would, but I wouldn’t sue. I would also ask my kid why he didn’t just scream at me from the front of the plane.
Spirit Seemingly Is Wrong
With that said, Spirit should never have split up 3 passengers flying together. I wonder if their tickets were all on the same reservation? For that the family deserves compensation in the form of flight credit, etc. Spirit apparently refunded the money and gave some miles, although I’m not certain if they offered something else. Either way, yes this is something that they did wrong (if the story is accurate), but no I wouldn’t be emotionally distressed.
The truth is 15 years old is the standard for when kids can fly by themselves without having to pay to be an unaccompanied minor. The reason for this is because they can do it. They don’t need you. I promise. Sure, there are all kinds of situations and individual needs issues that can arise, but those don’t seem to be part of this story, or at least the mother didn’t mention them.
To sum it up, empower your kids when traveling. Start young and do it often, then when they are 15 years old they can fly all over the world solo and not have to worry if they ditch you in Tampa or not! 🙂 And in case you are wondering, while I do feel girls are a bit different, I still plan to let Ellie have a similar adventure of her own when she is 15.
No doubt you have some thoughts on this. Share them politely and respectfully below!