Tips from a 9-year-old on flying by yourself.

Traveling as an Unaccompanied Minor

For Christmas, I got a plane ticket to go see my best friend who lives in Georgia. I was so excited, but it was sort of scary because I knew that I would have to go alone. I have never traveled anywhere by myself, so this was going to be an adventure.

My mom and I got to the airport and checked in. They gave me a lanyard with a pocket to hold my ticket, my baggage claim ticket, and information about the person who was picking me up at the airport in Georgia (I call her my Aunt Kim). They gave my mom a ticket to walk back to the gate with me, so that I wouldn’t have to wait by myself.

My lanyard with all my tickets and all my information.

My lanyard with my tickets and all my information.

Then, Mom and I went through security. Security was actually more fun than scary. I met a little girl named Ellie in line behind me. I was hoping she would be on my flight, but she was going to Maryland with her family. My mom had to take her shoes off to go through the metal detector, but I didn’t because I am under 12.

That's the plane that I took to Georgia.

That’s the plane that I took to Georgia.

After security, we went to the gate to wait for the plane. Mom and I played “Heads Up” while we waited for me to be called. I was one of the first ones to get on and no one else was on the plane yet. I was a little bit nervous then because I had just left my mom. The first few minutes were very uneasy, but I felt better knowing that my mom wasn’t going to leave the airport until my plane was in the air. I also tried to distract myself with my book.

Getting on the plane.

Getting on the plane.

The flight attendant pulled me aside to check and sign off on my stuff. She told me not to take off my lanyard because that held all the important information about me that they needed to know. Then, she asked me where I wanted to sit. I found a seat near the front so that she could keep an eye on me. What was really cool was that I got to see the flight attendant shut the door to the airplane. I was also able to see her seat in the very front of the aircraft that pulled down from the wall, but still with a seat belt for her to use.

On the flight I ate the lunch that my mom had packed for me and the pretzels and drink that the flight attendant gave out. I also watched movies and played on my iPad.

After we landed in Georgia and were taxiing to the gate, I called my mom, then my dad, and then my Aunt Kim. (I asked the flight attendant before I did it because I wanted to make sure it was alright.) I got to tell my flight attendant the whole story about why I got to go on the flight, and the person sitting next to me told me that I had done a good job.

The flight attendant walked me off the plane and Aunt Kim was waiting for me at the gate with my best friend, Sydney. They had their own tickets to go through security to pick me up at the gate. It was so exciting when I finally got to see my best friend!

With Sydney in Georgia. I made it!

With Sydney in Georgia. I made it!


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Ellie is a 10 year old girl who just started the 5th grade. She enjoys archery, plays the piano, and loves to write. While traveling, she enjoys taking audio tours of museums and learning about anything having to do with the Tudor monarchy. (She's slightly obsessed with Henry VIII.)

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Ellie DufilhoTraveling as an Unaccompanied Minor

Comments 8

  1. Megan Lagoy

    Way to go Ellie! Great article. Really encourages me as a mom to give my kids a chance to do this at some point!

  2. Teri Dufilho

    Ellie! I love the article you wrote about your wonderful adventure of flying all by yourself to see Sydney. I am so proud of you!

  3. Lindsay Sharp

    You are a brave young lady, Ellie. I loved hearing about your experience! I’m an adult and I still get butterflies in my tummy when I’m doing something new. I can relate to your “uneasy” feeling! Way to go!!

  4. Regan

    Hi there, I just found your blog through Bethany’s. (We used to go to church together in Conroe, LOVE her!) I’m a part of and was wondering if I could link to this blog post? One of our goals is empowering women to travel and I think many people would be encouraged by Ellie’s courage and sense of adventure! I didn’t want to share it without permission since this is a family blog and you may not want hoards of new readers, which would be totally understandable. Feel free to email me and let me know what you think!

    1. Matt Dufilho
      Matt Dufilho

      Hey Regan,

      Don’t know if you got our email to you, but thank you for reading, and we would be thrilled if you posted Ellie’s article. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Robin Dufilho
      Robin Dufilho

      It’s true. In fact, each airline has its own set of guidelines about flying as an unaccompanied minor as well as their own age limit to determine when a child is no longer considered a minor (I’ve seen age limits from 12-16).
      If you are considering allowing your child to fly by themselves, check with the airline first to see what their policies on the matter are.

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