The airlines’ most precious cargo: your kids

Don’t be surprised if your next airplane seatmate has a Spiderman carry-on bag and elite frequent flier status.

Millions of children between the ages of 5 and 14 fly alone every year, as what the airlines call “UMs” or unaccompanied minors. Many of these small-fry fliers travel year-round, shuttling back and forth between divorced parents on weekends, at Thanksgiving and during the winter school breaks. Tons more tykes take to the skies at the end of summer, heading home from camp or vacation with the grandparents.

The airlines promise to watch over your kids if they must fly somewhere alone. But it will cost you a lot more than it used to. Find out just how much more, and get some advice from an experienced “UM,” in my most recent column on USA TODAY.

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One thought on “The airlines’ most precious cargo: your kids

  1. Mike says:

    When I was 13 years old I flew alone from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana) to spend the summer with my uncle.

    This was in 1960, mind you, and looking back I’m amazed that my parents allowed such a trip.

    But I was already an airline veteran because my father worked for American Airlines and I had taken many trips, including a coast-to-coast haul by DC-6B that was one of the last prop jobs to fly from Laguardia to LAX.

    The trip to South American involved a Super G Constellation from Tulsa to Laguardi, a taxi to what is now JFK, an overnight in the AA stew dorm , and then a PanAm 707 to San Juan.
    Then another DC-6 through half a dozen islands and finally to Atkinson Air Force Base in Georgetown.

    Today, 48 years hence, I’d never even think of sending my daughters on a trip like that, unattended.

    At the end of that summer in 1960, I flew home, also unattended. Never missed a beat. But I’m pretty sure the PanAm and American Airlines stews had their eye on me.

    I sure had my eye on them!


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