Indian Kid rules the Sky!
My friend and his wife were quite worried while waiting at the Mumbai airport. Their 6 year old son was to fly on his own to India from the States!
Several years ago, my friend, Amol, had taken his young kid to visit his sister in US. His wife, who was to accompany could not go due to some emergency in her family. The plan was to spend 1 month and then return. They had a great time in New York, climbing the Liberty Lady and many of the tall towers, then next few exciting days were spent in Washington. The plan was to go to Disneyland the following week.
Then came the day when Amol got called back to India urgently. The kid was absolutely crushed. He was so looking forward to Disneyland. Amol’s sister suggested that he might consider leaving his son back, seeing how her own children had struck a great friendship with their cousin so quickly. But it wasn’t possible for Amol to return again in a few days. His brother-in-law said that he had heard from his friend who had experienced Lufthansa’s initiative for unaccompanied children and how well they take care of the kid right from the word go. In fact several thousand children traveled alone every year on Lufthansa. Amol’s first reaction was “No Way!”. His kid was now almost in tears.
After much cajoling he had an extensive discussion with LH and eventually agreed. “You should have seen my son’s face brightening, when I broke this news.” He told me later. Of course, his wife was not particularly happy with this decision. However he went to the local LH office and filled up the required form and paid the nominal fees for Unaccompanied Minor Service and returned to India.
A few weeks later on the appointed day, after enjoying the holidays, the boy was brought to the Airport and informed the airlines crew of the unaccompanied status. One of the ground staff was immediately assigned to take care of the young flyer. Right from check-in, immigration to boarding one LH woman staffer was with him and handed over to the flight attendant nearest to his seat.
The boy was a bit apprehensive in the beginning and then slowly began to take it in his stride. He was pampered with toys, drawing books, chocolates, goodies and special kids menu. He probably enjoyed the flight a lot more than when traveling with parents!
Always just a call away the flight attendant ensured the kid was comfortable at all times. Once they landed at Frankfurt for a change flight he was again handed over to the local ground staff who took him to a special kids play zone. Many hours had passed, the boy had started missing the parents and the usual bustle at the airport was too awe-inspiring for the boy. He would not let go of the attendant’s hands at all. Then the next flight was announced and the whole process was repeated.
After many hours of playing, eating, sleeping and enjoying, the flight landed at the Mumbai airport. The boy was handed over to the dedicated ground staff to take him through all the processes, and hand him over to the anxious parents waiting outside.
On seeing his parents he bounded happily and was talking twenty to the dozen that it was some time before they could understand what was being said. He was saying “I am going again next year to the US alone for my holidays by the same flight”.
Well, he probably went a couple of more times and after this I have learnt of many more Indian kids on board, who have made use of this fantastic service by Lufthansa.
Recently I heard of this yet another brave Indian boy, Yashas, who will not only travel on Lufthansa but also has been selected to make an in-flight announcement ! He achieved this by winning a keenly contested competition, which had participants from 9 different countries. Have a look at this video.
I wonder what he will say! Probably “Mera Bharat Mahan”. 🙂
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