(travel) Independence for a 9 years old


As the US independence day approaches, we are dealing with a whole lot of that from a very different perspective. Lucas, 9, is flying to Prague on Friday – alone. He will be spending 2 weeks with my parents. This is quite the experience for everyone involved – the parents, grandparents, and of course him.

When my parents first brought the idea up – I was fine with it but wanted to check with Lucas first. I flew alone from Kabul to Moscow when I was 11 so this didn’t seem such a big deal. I don’t know why I was surprised when he didn’t even hesitate and agreed to it – within a few hours. He was concerned about being away from home for 5 weeks – because he still wanted to do his North Carolina sleep-away camp for 3 weeks. After some negotiating and being given a choice between Prague or NC this  year – he picked Prague very quickly. So, we were set – now the logistics!

I didn’t know much about the unaccompanied minor programs airlines offer. Call me an expert after an excruciating 3 hour call with Delta. Apparently there aren’t many airlines that let 9 years old switch planes – so try to get him to a city that has NO direct US flight to Atlanta. After suggestions of us flying him to New York and putting him on a plane there (really?), we settled on KLM thru Amsterdam there and Air France thru Paris back. Here is how it is supposed to work: for $150 we hand him off to a stewardess at the gate, they sit him in the back close to them, they hand him to a KLM rep at Schiphol, shuffle him thru the airport to the next gate and do the same; a stewardess will get him from the plane thru the passport control thru baggage to dad at the Prague airport. So, we know the theory – now the questions started….you can always rely on a mind of 9 years old to come up with every single scenario….and our creative answers

  • what if I miss the connection? …. all routes lead to Prague eventually, next plane, enjoy the 20 euros at the airport
  • what if I need to use a bathroom with the seatbelt sign on? …. hold it
  • what if the plane crashes?…. planes to Europe don’t crash, just the Asian ones – ouch, yes we said that
  • what if noone speaks English? … where is that, exactly? use your Czech 🙂
  • what will I eat? ………………whatever the Dutch eat
  • what if my iPad runs out of power? ………..agh, real disaster, you are going to have to pull out a book and read!
  • what if deda (grandpa) is not at the airport?…….mum will not be happy and will handle that with deda separately
  • how do I sleep on the plane when I can’t put head in your lap?……….just like the rest of us, do your best not to tangle your neck and be glad you are short
  • ………they keep coming

So he is heading out tomorrow and we are packing…. more news once we actually have any news…I am proud of him and can say that if any kid can do it, it is him… I really can’t imagine Maxie doing this ever. He is not aware of his surroundings at all and doesn’t know what we are doing in the next hour…. so this may be our only opportunity to test it 🙂 Wish us luck.

4 comments

  1. You are right! if any kid can do this, it is Lucas! You and B, however will probably be holding your breath until you hear from you parents that he is with them! I hope he has a wonderful time and I look forward to all the stories when we see you all in Jamaica!

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  2. Sounds like a great adventure for a 9 year old and you are great parents for letting him make the trip alone. As a grandparent I can safely say deda will be there early, and your folks have to be very excited to have Lucas to themselves for 2 whole weeks. Can’t wait to read more about the adventure!

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