An Unaccompanied Minor Plus Four

My 13-year old nephew was visiting and I needed to take him to the airport for his flight back to San Diego. Given that he was an “Unaccompanied Minor,” we had to check him in, get a pass for whoever was accompanying him to the gate, and then go through security to the gate. That would be fine, except for the fact that “we” also included my four kids. So, here I am going through the airport managing five children. Literally, people were staring at me …

As instructed we got to the airport 90 minutes before departure. Well, okay, closer to 80 minutes, but that should be fine. There were only about 10 people in line at the ticket counter, so things were looking good. Twenty minutes later, we are in the same spot, my two boys (9, 6) have knocked over the ropes a few times, my baby is yelling, and now I’m sweating. Not to mention that I’m starting to worry about my nephew getting to the gate, but we still have 60 minutes. Another 10 minutes go by, but phew, we are next in line.

Until … a man up struts a man and informs me that he has 20 minutes to catch his plane and asked to go in front of us. Under normal circumstances, this would have been fine, but now I’m thinking of the conversation I’d have to have with my sister (older sister — you can understand the hesitation) about why her son didn’t make it onto his flight. I tell the man “no” and suffer through his nasty glares. The five children are now silent watching this all play out.

Oh good, our turn. He’s checked in and we are good to go!

We head to the security line. All the kids are behaving and I hear a woman calling me out of the line. This happens to be the American Airline representative that is stopping every passenger to have them place carry-ons into that little metal box that says, “Your carry-on must fit into here.” You know those ones that they have everywhere, but no one ever pays attention to. Well, they (American Airlines) have a new policy that they are now checking the size. After smushing and zipping the bag, it still doesn’t fit. I turn to the woman with my most pathetic look and say, “Mam, I have five children with me, there was no problem with this bag on the way out from San Diego — are you really going to make me do this right now?” I think I may even have conjured up a tear. Seeing her concrete face and checked-out glare, I knew there was no point.

We handed off the luggage, but I’m seathing and manage to sarcastically (it was better than what was going through my head) ask the agent how this new policy was being received by customers. I offered the constructive criticism that it would be better if they had mentioned this new policy at the check-in counter. Not interested.

Ten precious minutes had past and we have 40 minutes until departure.

We’re finally back in the security line. I’m sweating, but now my 2 year old is alternating between announcing in a loud voice, “Mommy is mad” and yelling, “I want the London Eye!”

The security line is not moving. They are letting all of the LA passengers go ahead of us. Hmm. There’s something going on and 10 minutes later, we’re still in the same spot. I’m a wreck and wish I wasn’t so passive. My nephew has 20 minutes until take off and hasn’t gotten food. At 5’10 and 13 years old, he needs food for the 6-hour flight — ugh! Oh, I forgot to mention that he has broken foot which means he needs to get his boot examined at security and cannot run to the gate, which time is now going to require.

Five kids getting their shoes off and on. Breathe. Should my 6-year-old be able to get on a pair of Keens by himself? Yes! I would be happy to help, but the 2 year-old attached to my hip for the last 80 minutes is now coming undone.

We run barefoot to the gate. The agent is waiting, but he made the flight! Breathe.


I traveled to San Diego with my four kids alone this week. We shipped our luggage ahead of time which made things much easier. Here’s a great article by Smarter Traveler comparing the shipping services and providing additional luggage tips.


  1. Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up…. one suitcase (the big one) with all the girl clothes and therefore much more expensive to replace, is GONE! The label I shipped it with was stuck onto a box full of paper. So technically, I recieved a package, but my suitcase and lovely clothes are gone, with NO label on it.

    I have to say that one bag did get here. I shipped that one priority and it was about $60. The other one I shipped parcel post for $50 but it was much heavier and only insured it for $500, what was I thinking? That covers a few jeans and a pair of shoes- ugh! I’m still getting over it of you can’t tell. I’m also now dealing with shopping tomorrow with all four kids because my daughters have no clothes.

    Take aways are pack light and ship priority with plenty of insurance. I did love not lugging everything at the airport. That part was very helpful.

  2. I totally second the ‘pack light’ recommendation. When I was single, I packed ALL my favorite outfits, even for just a weekend. Now, I pack like, 3… even for a week! And, my son & I share a suitcase. I do a few more for my son, because his clothes are still small, but I hate having more bags than people at the airport!!

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