How Old Should A Child Be To Sit Alone?

I was reading through some of the travel blogs I keep up with and saw an post on Mommy Points about not sitting with your kids on an airplane.  That article was referencing an post from yesterday on One Mile At A Time.  The original post was about a situation that Lucky from  One Mile At A Time experienced on a recent flight.  He was sitting in first class near a couple.  The couple asked the flight attendant if she could send back a meal to their daughter sitting in economy (um? no)  Then the daughter came up later to visit and it turned out she was around 8-10 years old.  Lucky also mentioned that the parents were “knocking back a handful of drinks each in first class.”  His feeling was that this was unfair to both the daughter and any passengers sitting around her who might have felt they needed to “watch” her.

The original article on One Mile At A Time and the follow up post on Mommy Points both had some heated comments with people on both sides of the fence.  Apparently this is a touchy subject.

My daughter loves flying (especially when she gets to sit with Grandma!)…but she’s not ready yet to be by herself

So, What’s My Opinion?

My first reaction aligned with Lucky’s  – this was inappropriate and too young an age for a child to be sitting along in economy while her parents were in first class.  But once I thought about it some more, my opinion became a little more unclear.  There is probably an age when this would be totally fine.  Teenager?  Sure.  Middle Schooler? Probably.  8-10 years old?  I don’t know.  The child’s maturity level and personality would definitely be a factor.  But I have a hard time picturing even the most mature 8 year old sitting alone while her parents are at the front of the plane.

If I were flying with my husband and daughter and had 2 first class and 1 economy seat, I imagine we would sit my daughter with one of us in first and the other one would sit in economy.  (Spoiler: it would be me in economy since I’m a shorty and my husband is as tall as an NBA player).

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  Are you OK with this scenario?  When is a child old enough to sit by her/himself?

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