Unaccompanied Minor Flying Seems to Be Up From the US to Mexico

There’s been a lot of chatter and possibly ill-informed speculation amongst American Airlines flight attendants about the number of unaccompanied minors being up on their US-Mexico flights. There’s been some disagreement over whether this is the result of:

  • The federal government deporting children on American Airlines flights (although I don’t think those would be listed as ‘UMs’, or
  • Parents proactively sending their children out of the country out of fear they might be captured and held in separation from their families

This is entirely separate from the viral Facebook post about an American Airlines flight attendant seeing 16 migrant children on a flight to Miami.

And there’s now a Dallas-based flight attendant with a piece in the Houston Chronicle on why they’ll refuse to “work flights that separate immigrant kids from families.”

American Airlines shared that,

We have been asked about transporting undocumented children and are aware of the narrative that is circulating online. American, like most U.S. airlines, provides travel to the federal government through our Government Services agreements; however the government does not disclose information about the nature of the flights they take or the passengers who are traveling. We have no way to substantiate the report at this time but would be disappointed to learn that our airline was being used to separate families.

This morning American put out a statement that they have asked the federal government “to immediately refrain from using American for the purpose of transporting children who have been separated from their families due to the current immigration policy.”

United also put out a statement — first saying they “have not seen evidence these children have been flown on United aircraft” but also that they “have contacted federal officials to inform them that they should not transport immigrant children on United aircraft who have been separated from their parents.”

While these requests might be honored the government is simply booking contract fare tickets so I don’t know that they can stop children separated from their families from being transported on their planes. Delta would have the same difficult time doing so. I view these statements as directed towards cabin crew who feel they may be finding themselves accomplices to splitting up families.

It’s not clear what exactly is going on here, other than that anecdotally it seems children are being sent out of the U.S. — by the government, perhaps by parents fearful of what might happen if those children stay — but either way awareness of family separation seems to be driven by the current climate of immigration enforcement.

No airline wants to be caught in the middle of this issue, and doesn’t want to put their employees in the middle of it either.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Who cares, American?

    You don’t treat your regular passengers very well. Get your own house in order before you criticize the federal government.

    If you don’t like the “policy”, send your platoon of lobbyists to Washington……preferably on Delta.

  2. Everybody from the Pope to Laura Bush to the creative geniuses behind the top programs on Fox network, want to express their solidarity with the entire world’s humanity against this psychopath Administration and the 35% ultra-rightists degenerate redneck baboons who support him.

    Your bullied “snowflake” tolerant liberals are about to join all decent American patriots to flock to polls to flush you back under your Confederate Klan hoods instead of parading your pasty flab at Trump rallies to sicken all decent people.

    You’re 35% and shrinking like your peanut in the flab rolls, get used to it.

  3. The increase is US to Mexico, inferring they were used to get across the border and now get a plane ride home and mom or dad got paid for their use.

  4. There are laws pertaining to immigration. These illegals were trying to enter illegally with children that might be theirs or might not. Yes, it is criminal to use these kids as pawns, shame on the parents.
    How many of those shouting and demonstrating realize;
    1, Historically, Central American immigrants are a great cost to the USA.
    2, Nice shouting, how many are you ready to sponsor, possibly shelter in your home.

  5. Well, I’m calling it…our national political mudslinging culture has infected the once-collegial, friendly, and helpful frequent flyer community. Comments here seem to reflect a pathetic lack of knowledge and context while exhibiting an alarming incivility and brutish cruelty.

    What ever happened to the good ‘ol days of complaining about the loss of heated ramekins or the removal of an olive from meals?

    Donato, I would gladly welcome a person into my home who’s in distress. I’ve done it before, and I’d enthusiastically do it again. There the issue of the law…but there’s also a special seat on the express train to hell for those who casually and willfully turn a blind eye to others’ suffering.

  6. I flew Delta JFK > MEX about a week and a half ago, prior to the announcements from the airlines that they did not want to be used to separate families. While I cannot comment on what this passenger saw, I can confirm about a dozen unaccompanied minors were sitting near us on our morning flight. All were speaking in English (and some in Spanish too) and were in good spirits, some playing on their phones.

    It’s school holidays, and my assumption is that summers in Mexico are great for the kids. There were a lot of them, more than I’ve ever seen on a flight, but I expect all to be returning to the US.

  7. Its so comical to listen to a fascist spew propaganda..rattling off assumptions and and childish name calling….grouping people based on their race and yet calling himself one of the “descent” ones…

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