Do you know where your children are?

Written by kvfawcett on October 18, 2010 – 11:28 pm -

James Brown was surprised to receive this call. He didn’t even know the kids were missing. His fifteen-year-old daughter Bridget, his eleven-year-son Kodie, and Bobby Nolan, a neighborhood friend, were in another state. They’d taxied to the Jacksonville, Florida airport and bought tickets on a Southwest Airlines’s flight to Nashville, Tennessee.

Bridget, the oldest, says it was her idea. Rather than using the $700 of babysitting money she’d been saving to buy a car, she decided the trio should visit Dollywood, an amusement park in Tennessee. Plus, she’d never been on an airplane and thought it was high time.

So off they went, plunked down the money and three tickets were theirs. “Neither Southwest nor the TSA said anything to us. We went over to the conveyor belt post security, picked up our stuff and got on the plane,” Bridget said.

One problem: they didn’t tell their parents about their intended foray and had no identification. But that didn’t appear to stop them. They might still be at the amusement park if they’d flown to Pigeon Forge rather than Nashville. Upon arriving in the wrong city after a very pleasant flight, they were stranded and scared. They decided to call home. Bobby Nolan’s mother, Heather, said, “Bobby said, “For real, I’m in Nashville, Tennessee, and I’m ready to come home; we want to come home.”

But, then there’s the key question that a lot of officials will be discussing and explaining. How were these minors permitted to board the plane?

“Southwest Airlines and federal officials from TSA both issued statements trying to explain themselves. The TSA wrote that “kids under 18 don’t need to show an ID,” so the children were let through without one. Southwest said “Two of the passengers were over the age of 12, and, therefore, could travel without a parent.” They allowed the 11-year-old to travel because “in this case he was accompanied by two older companions.”

Their parents still can’t believe it. But in reality, who is the culprit? Shouldn’t the airline and the TSA have averted this? These passengers were clearly underage and were not accompanied by an adult. What if Kodie had shown up at the airport carrying a stuffed teddy bear?

Do you think new precautions should be instituted? I certainly do even though I might have been one of those children who wanted to take to the skies.

But, there’s another nagging question. These children were certainly AWOL for more than a few hours. Where did their parents think they were? Are the days of parental supervision over?

Photo: Courtesy Peukku Works

Posted in Consumer Traveler |