Parents Take An Upgrade On Their 13-Hour Flight & Leave Their 10-Year-Old Son In Coach — 'Sorry Son!'

How young is too young when it comes to kids flying alone?

Screenshots from tiktok of parents who made their son fly in coach TikTok

It's the stuff travel dreams are made of—turning up to your crushingly long international flight to find you've been upgraded to business or first class. Hallelujah! Except you've got your 10-year-old kid with you.

What do you do? For one pair of parents online, the answer was as simple as two words—"sorry son!"

A couple sparked a debate about kids flying alone when they left their 10-year-old alone in coach on a 13-hour flight.

Karen “Kay” Akpan, is a YouTuber and travel influencer known as The Mom Trotter who, along with her husband and their 10-year-old son Aiden, lives in an RV and travels the country and world full time, documenting all their excursions for social media.


Their most recent trip abroad posed a bit of a dilemma when it came to airline upgrades.

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Akpan and her husband were upgraded to business class because they have so many frequent flier miles, but Aiden does not.

Over a video clip of her and her husband sipping champagne in one of the seating pods aboard United Airlines' high-end Polaris international service, Akpan wrote that she and her hubby were "enjoying business class...on a 13-hour flight while our son sits in the back in economy class because he doesn’t have United Premier 1K status like we do and didn’t get a complimentary upgrade."


Along with a shrug emoji, Akpan then quipped, "sorry son!"

Posting the video to Facebook as well, Akpan asked her followers for their two cents on how she and her husband handled their upgrade situation, and what others might have done in their shoes. Akpan asked if other parents would, "take the business class upgrade and leave your child in economy; give your child the business class upgrade and sit in economy; decline the upgrade so that you can all sit in economy together."

Akpan also asked if "the flight time" or "age of the child [makes] a difference in your decision?" A debate quickly ensued about kids flying alone and what age is appropriate for children to travel without supervision. And some people definitely got heated.

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Some felt 10 was far too young an age for kids flying alone, while others said they would have done the exact same thing.

On TikTok, most people laughed along with Akpan. "See you there son!" one person quipped. But on Facebook, not everyone was feeling the humor.

One woman called Akpan's parenting into question, mom-shaming her for her decision. "I think it's highly irresponsible to leave your 10-yr-old to be seated alone for a 1-hour flight so I couldn't imagine a 13-hour flight," she wrote, going on to scold Akpan for "taking content-making too far" and endangering her son's safety by letting "something happen to your child just so you could film."

Others took a softer approach but still didn't agree with Akpan's decision. "No shade sis," one woman wrote, "But we would have been playing musical chairs the whole flight."

She went on to say that she and her husband would have taken turns getting "the good life" while their child sat in business class the whole time. "I couldn’t relax not being able to see what’s happening with my kid." Another mom brought up a similar anxiety. "In evacuation emergencies, I need to be next to my child.


But others pointed out that given the Akpans' "RV life" and travel-based lifestyle, Aiden is a very experienced traveler for his age. "Your son could totally handle himself on a plane ride," as one person put it. Others agreed that 10 is definitely old enough to "be vocal if there are problems," as one mom put it. Still, another mom said she'd "ask the kiddo!" if he or she felt comfortable flying solo.

As for the airlines themselves, 5 is the age at which most will allow kids flying alone, with many only permitting youngsters on non-stop flights before the age of 8. Airlines also require "unaccompanied minor" fees, ranging from $35 to $150, for the extra service and chaperoning that children require, especially if they have a connection to make that needs to be supervised.

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The parents made it up to their son on their next big excursion. 

If little Aiden had any beef with his parents for stiffing him back in coach, it soon evaporated. For their next big adventure, the Akpan's surprised their son with his dream excursion—a trip to Japan.

"He'd been asking to go to Japan for a while," Akpan said in a video about the big surprise, "so as you can see he was stoked." The little guy literally jumped for joy in the airport when he found out that his big travel dream was finally coming true.



And as Akpan revealed in the video, Aiden also got a second surprise that made up for those 13 hours trapped back in coach—an upgrade to business class for their flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo. No "sorry son" this time!


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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social media and human interest topics.