I can't imagine the sheer terror mom Elena Kerr must have experienced when Southwest Airlines lost her 9-year-old daughter, Chloe Boyce, for over an hour. Can you even fathom something like that happening to your kid? The flight Kerr booked for Chloe from Nashville to NYC wasn't supposed to include any plane changes. (According to Southwest's policy, unaccompanied minors are only allowed on flights without plane changes.) But then, as is often the case with air travel, something unexpected happened.
Due to the weather, Chloe's flight made an extra stop -- one that led to a five-hour layover and a plane change.
Okay, I get it -- can't control the weather. But the problem was, Southwest didn't inform anyone in Chloe's family about the delay. So when a plane from Nashville landed at LaGuardia and Chloe wasn't on it, her aunt was, understandably, panic-stricken.
Naturally she called her sister, who called the airline, who couldn't figure out what happened to Chloe. Eventually everything got straightened out and Chloe arrived safely in NYC, but her mom is still furious. (Can't say I blame her, even if Southwest did refund the cost of the ticket.)
Yikes. Thankfully Chloe is safe, but for any parent, this story is still scary. The only thing is, I'm not sure what the "take-home" lesson is here. Obviously this doesn't happen every time a kid flies alone; these trips probably go off without a hitch more often than not. And the airline did screw up, but they also made sure Chloe was fed and supervised during that long layover.
The reality is, well, sh*t happens. Even though, as parents, we do everything in our power to stop it from happening.
I'm not particularly nervous about flying. Meaning I'm one of the few people I know who doesn't require some sort of prescriptive or alcoholic sedative to make it from one destination to the next. But putting my kids on a plane without me always puts me into panic mode. And I'm not even talking about letting them fly as unaccompanied minors -- I freak out when they go on vacation with their grandparents and I'm not there. Not because I think they won't be looked after properly, but because air travel is, after all, unpredictable. And if they're on a plane that's going down, I damn well better be on that plane, too.
Maybe parents require a sedative when their kids are the ones flying.
Have you ever sent your child on a plane as an unaccompanied minor? Was it a good or bad experience?
Image via Ma1974/Flickr