Unaccompanied Minor’s Airport Adventure

August 11, 2010

in Airport Stories

It was summer of 2007 and I was traveling from Croatia to Columbia, SC. I had been to SC before – I was an exchange student there, and I was coming back to visit my host family. Anyway, I was seventeen at the time and quite excited not only to see my host family again, but also for the traveling experience. Well, it turned out to be quite an experience, that’s for sure.

On my way to Columbia there were a few bad events, but not as bad as on the way back. First, on one of my flights (Munich to DC) I was seated next to a man who kept staring at the magazine I was reading, talking loudly with his friends seated behind us, getting up every 5 minutes (I was in the aisle seat, so I had to move every time he’d get up) and staring at the in-flight movie I was watching on my screen instead of turning on his own screen! It was really creepy and annoying to be stuck next to him for approximately 8 hours, but I didn’t want to cause commotion so I kept my mouth shut.

When we landed in DC I had to go through customs. This lady who worked at the airport accompanied me and another girl since we were minors. She kept yelling at us, but I could barely understand her since her English wasn’t that good. It was embarrassing, running after her and trying to figure out what she wanted us to do, while the passers-by stared. Going through customs seemed to last forever, so when it was finally done I couldn’t wait to leave for SC. But, when I boarded the plane, it was announced that the flight was delayed due to weather. We had to sit there and wait. And wait. And wait. And the hours passed. And a couple of false hopes for takeoff came and went. And people got impatient. And take-off seemed like fantasy at that point. Thankfully, the crew was really kind, so that made it easier. Well, I made it to SC and was so exhausted by the time I got there, but mostly just happy I made it.

So, that was a piece of cake compared to my experiences on the way back. It all started with my flight from Columbia to DC being delayed. Not again, I thought. It was only delayed for 45 minutes, but that was enough for me to miss my connection to Munich. So, when I got to DC I stood at the end of a VERY long line to book a new flight. I had stood in the line for about an hour or two only to find out I had been standing in the wrong line! The employees at the counter told me they couldn’t do anything for me and that the line to rebook international flights was in a completely different part of the airport.

There was really nothing I could do, so I made my way to the other line. As soon as I took one glance at the line, I died a little inside. It was going to be a LONG day. This line was even longer than the previous one, and full of people with screaming children and various B.O.’s. How fun it was to stand there for four hours. Anyway, it was about 9 pm when it was my turn to rebook, and I was optimistic about getting on a new flight and leaving DC that same night. Oh, how naive that turned out to be.

All flights to Munich were full, and I couldn’t get out of DC til the next evening. So I told the lady working there to try to get me on a different flight, anywhere in Europe, just as long as there was a connection to Croatia from there. So, she got me on a flight to Zurich, Switzerland… but it would leave around 5 pm the next afternoon. So, I had to spend the night in DC and since I was a minor, I couldn’t get a hotel room, so I would have to sleep at the airport. While that was sinking in, another employee came by and started freaking out about me being a minor. She grabbed my passport and plane ticket and told me to follow her. As she was literally dragging me across the airport, a fellow passenger I got acquainted with asked me if everything was okay, and she started screaming at him not to talk to me or come close to me. I felt awful.

She told me to sit down on a chair and to wait for her; she said she’d take me to the unaccompanied minor’s room. So I sat there and waited but she never came back. By the time I realized she wouldn’t come back, it was late, all the blankets and pillows at the airport were taken, and pretty much all the employees were gone. So I slept on the chair. Well, I didn’t really sleep since I was freezing and I could hear the sound of a vacuum cleaner all night.

When I woke up in the morning, I was a mess. But then I realized my passport and plane ticket were with that lady. Oh great. So, I stood in the line – again, to get my documents back. Luckily, they found my documents. So, I spent the rest of the day talking to strangers, looking around the stores and just roaming around the airport.

I’ll never forget that airport in DC. I think I still remember where every terminal, store or restaurant is. Well, if nothing else, at least I got a good story out of it.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Brobro August 12, 2010 at 12:57 am

Your story makes me cringe at how aweful traveling by air has become in America. Airline employees are by and large helpful but the ones who are on power trips can and should go f themselves. Taking your documents without telling you why and then not returning should have got this ignorant person fired. It's very embarassing how some people can act. I'm sorry you had to experience some of the worst this country has to offer.


madachode August 12, 2010 at 6:19 am

I have atip, don't travel, stay out of airports, and stay home if you believe that traveling by air in america is soooooo bad.


Vonnie August 12, 2010 at 11:11 pm

You are a twat.


Geoff August 12, 2010 at 4:03 am

First rule of international travel: NEVER, never, never hand you passport over to anyone for any reason. It's one thing for someone to inspect it, stamp it, etc., but to let anyone take it out of your sight, NEVER allow this.



The Teenaged Tourust August 12, 2010 at 11:59 pm

My goodness! That must be the most hellish experience out of the entire website!


Leave a Comment
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post:

Next post: