When a Teen Flies Alone

By Christina VanGinkel

Well, we put our youngest son on a plane yesterday to fly out to Dallas to visit with his Aunt and Uncle over the holiday break. It was the first time that he had flown, and I was expecting him to be a bit nervous, as our oldest son is not a good flyer at all. With our oldest, we had to pre-medicate with Dramamine hours before the flight, and then have them pre-board him to give him time to settle down before they boarded the other passengers. With our youngest, he acted as if he had flown a million times before and it was just another day of his life.

Because of his age, he was to be pre-boarded, but the flight was running late, and it never happened. He was boarded with the rest of the passengers, after the elderly and those with small children were on. He had a single layover, and then was back on the plane for the final part of his flight. When he landed in Dallas and they were told that they could turn on their cell phones, he dialed my husband on his cell phone to tell us that he had landed. We thought he was in the airport already, but he said no, that he was still on the plane, taxiing down the runway. He just had to call and tell us that all of our fears about his flying were for nothing. Not only did he not become ill, he had fun. When asked if he would want to fly again, he immediately responded that eh would. This just goes to prove the point that children are as different as night and day, My oldest son was so un-enamored of flying that when he had to make a trip a few years back, he chose to take a bus instead, even though the actual travel time was days instead of hours!

If you do have a child or teenager who will be flying soon, I have a few tips to share with you to help make the flight as uneventful as possible:

Let them take with a cell phone. Not only, will they be able to call a parent as my son did, to say they made it, they can also call the person, or persons who are suppose to be picking them up if they are not at the gate to greet them. Maybe they were caught in traffic, or are at the airport already, but are just at the wrong gate. That they can call someone instantly, without having to find a phone or have an airline employee try to contact someone for them is a huge piece of comfort to them, taking away a lot of the stress associated with flying unaccompanied by a family member or friend.

Have them take with a handheld game system, such as a PSP, to play a game or watch a movie on. If they are a bit nervous about being on the flight, something like that can help them to pass the time. If music is more their style, a small MP3 player or CD player is also ideal. If the flight is a long one, both a game and music player is even better.

Be sure to check if the airline offers snacks or meals on board, and go over the choices with the child or teen. If nothing is to the child’s liking, be sure to pack a snack or lunch in a bag for them to eat at their leisure. Also, pack a stomach relief product, such as Tums or Rolaids that is suitable for the age of the child, just in case they do get an upset stomach. Also, be sure they know that drinks will be available on the flight, and all they have to do is ask a flight attendant to get them one.

Also, have them pack a magazine or book, or some other small item to help them pass the time. When my son was packing his carryon, I reminded him to try to keep it light; as he would have to carry it, with him at all times, even on his layovers, and to be sure to keep all of his essentials within easy reach inside the bag. I also told him he could pack a few items, such as a magazine, even if he did not think he would need them, just in case he did become a bit nervous or bored, so that he had a few activities to choose from. His PSP was his favorite item when I asked him late yesterday after landing, though, as he was able to watch a movie and the time passed quickly!

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