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School trip airport transit...

Discussion in 'School trips' started by andrewpi44, Jan 1, 2016.

  1. andrewpi44

    andrewpi44 New commenter

    I am taking a group of around 30 sixth formers on a trip to the US in February - we will be flying from Manchester with British Airways but we have a 3 1/2 hour layover each way in T5 at Heathrow. I was initially going to allow the students to wander around the airport on their own and meet at the gate as soon as it was announced on the screens in the terminal but I was in T5 a few weeks ago and I didn't realise how big it actually is, or that most of the US flights depart a different building ('b' or 'c') than the one we will be arriving to ('a') so I was wondering what everyone's advice would be in this situation? Do I ask them to meet me at a pre-assigned point at a determined time or do I trust them to get the mono-rail to the other building all by themselves? Should I give them 'free' time at all or should I just make them wait in a seating area with me - or is that a big mean? Also, do you give them their boarding passes to keep or should I keep them and dole them out at the gate to prevent any from going 'missing'? Thank you in advance for your responses.
  2. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    I would ask them to meet you at a pre-assigned point: make it somewhere that is easy to ask directions to in case anyone gets lost (eg. outside a particular shop). Go to that place all together, gather them round, explain the rules and instruct them to "meet back here at 12:00" (or whatever time). I think they should be supervised during transit. This isn't about trust, it's about children who may not be particularly airport-savvy, who may be nervous about travelling or who may be overexcited and lose track of time.

    Do you really want to supervise 30 teenagers in a seating area for 3 1/2 hours?! They are old enough to be allowed some free time to explore the airport, but I would suggest that they get into pairs/threes/fours and go round in a small group, staying together and not leaving anyone on their own. Make sure that one member of staff remains at the meeting point at all times, so the children know where to find you in case of emergency.

    It might be a good idea to have an initial period of free time, followed by a meet-up at a set time and place, and then another period of free time. That way there's a chance to practise meeting up without having the time pressure of getting to the gate on time; if anyone is significantly late returning to the meet-up point, they lose the opportunity for a second period of free time.

    Definitely keep them! Otherwise, as you say, someone is sure to 'lose' one. Collect in passports for safe-keeping, too.
    DYNAMO67 likes this.
  3. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Star commenter

    Agree with everything Kartoshka says, but would add that you might transfer to your departure building first and go through security there before letting them loose.
  4. andrewpi44

    andrewpi44 New commenter

    Thank you - another dilemma that I was wondering about was the question of alcohol - some of the 6th formers will be over-18 on the trip and some have asked me if they will be able to drink on the plane (the drinking age in the US is 21 but the airline say 18 for the flight) and I've said that I'll get back to them but I wanted to know what works best for you? It's British Airways so all drinks are free and usually quite copious - my instinct would be to tell them 'yes with moderation' (I teach most of them and they're all quite sensible - at least as far as I know) and give the cabin crew a list of names+pictures of people who are 18+/ask that they ID all students (the school's policy with the bar staff at prom) but I really don't know if that would be wise on such a long trans-Atlantic flight - we have activities scheduled almost straight after we land? Or could I just restrict them to a wine/beer with the in-flight meal? Or should I just forbid it outright? And if I do forbid all alcohol do I trust them or should I explicitly ask the cabin crew to not serve them? Sorry about all of this but it's my first time taking a group of kids on a plane before - all previous trips have been by coach and a maximum of about a 4 hour journey!!
  5. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Star commenter

    My instinctive reaction is the "yes with moderation" response, but that is because I am by nature non-controlling.

    However, there are very good reasons to say "none" in this case.

    One is, as you say, policing it.

    However, even adults who drink regularly find that in flight alcohol has a different effect:


    Also - the time difference means that you will have a very long day - if you have things to do when you get there, the students will already be in a "strange" zone, Best not add to it.

    And if you do go down this route - all the cabin crew will need is the seat numbers.
  6. RichardPThomas_

    RichardPThomas_ New commenter

    I would agree with most of the previous responses regarding reference the airport. I would ensure that students are fully briefed and this is referenced In your risk assessment. I would advise looking at the OEAP guidance on supervision, there is a section about remote supervision.

    Regarding alcohol, for me it would be a straight no, even if they are 18 as its a school trip. I think it saves potential problems and complications, including those associated with parents and those under 18. I think this decision needs to be made by your head, EVC and advisor (if applicable).
    DYNAMO67 likes this.
  7. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    I agree with all other things said. On the alcohol question- seriously, on board a plane? It is a problem you really, really do not need. I have a big issue with the selling of alcohol to anyone on board a tin box in the air, never mind them being 18.

    You say they are sensible, and they probably are, but they are not seasoned drinkers, probably don't know their limits ( I have seen this myself with sixth formers on school trips- never again) and on board a plane, it doesn't look good to other passengers does it?

    On top of this I would have a zero tolerance policy on drinking in the terminal building at home. This needs communicating to all pupils and parents. What if one ends up too drunk to fly in your free time?
  8. andrewpi44

    andrewpi44 New commenter

    I've already told them that they may not drink in the terminal because if they were to drink I would want it to be in front of me so I can at least have some idea of what they're consuming! I spoke with our EVC today and she told me that on previous trips they've been allowed to drink with a meal on the plane but that ultimately it's down to me to decide - and I think I'm going with an absolute no. I spoke to a member of staff who used to be cabin crew and she agreed with you DYNAMO67 - there is no place for alcohol onboard a flying tin box!!
    DYNAMO67 likes this.
  9. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Star commenter

    All that being said, you might be prepared to allow them one beer with their meal on the flight back, which I assume is overnight (?)
    andrewpi44 likes this.
  10. andrewpi44

    andrewpi44 New commenter

    It is an overnighter and I probably will do actually - provided that they behave themselves for the rest of trip!
  11. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    To be honest, in the spirit of goodwill and importantly to show an element of trust, I would probably allow them a single drink with their meal after further thought.
    andrewpi44 likes this.
  12. misspent

    misspent New commenter

    I have taken several trips abroad with 6th form. I would strongly advise no alcohol at all and to make sure you keep their passports and boarding cards at all times apart from when they actually need to display them. I would also accompany them between the different parts of the airport but then let them have a wander and I agree with an intermediate meeting time. If pupils think they can have one beer with food here will always be someone who abuses this plus this is a school trip-Would it be ok for them to have a beer with their lunch at school if they over 18. I know it sounds a bit mean but it could save you so much hassle. It is also important to remember that most of them wont be that bothered and the ones who are would probably want more than one!
    Flere-Imsaho likes this.
  13. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    Because no teenager will think of swapping seats to get round that plan ;)
  14. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    I would arrange a place to meet by the boarding gate for your flight AT least 45 minutes prior to departure. This gives you plenty of time to ensure all students have been accounted.

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