Sometimes its hard to believe I'm the mom to 3 awesome kids, and then I remember my oldest is turning 14. And then its extremely difficult to believe that I'm old enough to have a teenager! (One look in the mirror usually brings me back to reality pretty quick)
Yes, my baby boy who made me a mom for the first time, is turning 14 today. (*sniff*)
Happy Birthday Mr. T!
Last night I booked the flight to Florida for Mr. T and DivaGirl at the end of June. We thought it would be easier to send them to grammy's house ahead of time and let Mr. S, who was a little bent out of joint that big brother got to travel across country in November, travel with us in the moving van. Can I just say that airfare is getting ridiculous?! Last night I was logged in to the airline and figured I'd just book round trip tickets since we will need to get back to CA in the near future for ortho appts. While I was logged in, my first search brought up $439 pp rt. A little high, but okay, book...alas, in the time it took me to decide to click 'book now' I get an alert that says "This fare has gone up. The lowest fare is now $480 pp rt." Well, crap. Let's do a little more research...da da dah...okay, still the best deal, let's book it. What??? Another alert: "The lowest fare is now $509 per person..." Are you kidding me?! The price hiked twice in the 2 hours I spent making reservations. So I changed my strategy and booked a one-way for each and total for 2 passengers my total came to $509. Blarg.
A little note about unaccompanied minors traveling by plane, it can be easy-peasy or it can be very challenging depending on the airline. Obviously you will be limited by the airlines that fly into your closest airport. For us we had a decent selection as we fly San Francisco to Orlando. We also have the equally close options of San Jose or Oakland. So here's a breakdown of policies by airline with the best, IMO, at the top.
1. Alaska ages 5-12 pay $25 fee, non-stop flights only; age 13-17 service fee is optional (Flights are generally on time and crew members are pleasant)
2. Virgin ages 5-14 traveling without an adult who is at least 15 years old, $75-125 fee; ages 15-17 service is optional, non-stop flights only, includes a complimentary snack. Children under 4 years old are not allowed to travel unless accompanied by an adult who is at least 15 years old. (Awesome flying experience)
3. United ages 5-11 pay $99 service fee, non-stop flights; 12-17 service optional or can travel as an adult. (Not my favorite carrier, flights are often late)
4. Southwest ages 5-11 pay $50 service fee each way, non-stop flights only. (Would be ranked higher, but never fly to where we want to go)
5. Delta ages 5-7 non-stop flights only, $100 service fee each way; ages 8-14 non-stop or connecting flights, $100 service fee each way; ages 15-18 service is optional.
6. American Airlines ages 5-7 non-stop flights only, $100 service fee each way; ages 8-11 non-stop or connecting flights, $100 service fee each way; ages 12-18 service is optional.
These are the top 6 that I would consider. If you have had experience flying unaccompanied minors I'd love to hear about it.
In our case they kids won't technically be considered unaccompanied minors since Mr. T is 14. I actually had to call the airline to figure out how to book him and they told me to check him in as an adult. That means that DivaGirl, being 6 at travel time, is accompanied by a guardian. Either way, we can still approach the counter and pick up gate check passes for the rest of us to see them to the gate and through security. Being well flown kids, they will not need grammy to do the same when they arrive, they will just follow the signs to baggage claim and be met at the end of security. Mr. T has flown unaccompanied before and has been at this airport before so navigation shouldn't be very difficult.