There used to be a time when the only times children boarded a flight for faraway destinations was when they were traveling with their parents or other family members. However, nowadays, there are so many circumstances when children need to fly on their own. While this is a great option for many families, it isn’t as easy as it once was.
In fact, not every airline will allow an unaccompanied minor to board a flight, and many airlines have restrictions as to how old the child must be to fly by themselves. Therefore, please check the airline’s policies before attempting to book a flight for an unaccompanied minor.
While the airlines can’t seem to agree on the ages of children flying alone, they can all agree on the id required for minors to fly unaccompanied. The child should have a copy of their birth certificate, so you can prove how old they are. This is especially helpful if you have a child that looks older or younger than they really are. You will need your own identification, as will the person who is picking your child up at their destination. We also recommend sending a picture of the person who is picking them up, with that person’s contact information written on the back. This will ensure there are no questions or complications when your child arrives. One other item that many airlines will request is a notarized letter from both parents stating the child is allowed to fly alone.
When you choose to book unaccompanied minors flying tickets, you may need to call the airline directly. Not every airline has their website set up to accept these bookings. A few airlines will have you begin the booking process online and then have you call with additional information afterwards, while other airlines will need you to call for the entire process.
You will need to be prepared to pay an additional fee for unaccompanied minors flying tickets that you purchase, and that fee is required for each way of the flight. That fee is different for most airlines, so you will want to do a little research and see which airline will be the cheapest once you add their unaccompanied minor fee.
Unaccompanied minors flying are restricted to certain flights, which means you are not going to have as many choices when you are booking. Most airlines will not allow unaccompanied minors to fly on the latest flights of the day, just in case an issue arises, and the flight is cancelled or delayed. Some airlines also put restrictions in place as to how many layovers an unaccompanied minor can have or how long they can be.
You will also want to be prepared for any inclement weather that may be occurring around the time that your child is going to be flying. The reason is that most airlines will not allow unaccompanied minors to fly if there is a chance that a connecting flight could be delayed due to the weather.
– When the big day comes for the flight, there are a few tips for unaccompanied minor flying that you should be aware of. These include the following:
– Pack family’s and friends’ contact information – This should include names, addresses, and phone numbers that may be needed in case of an emergency.
– Pack a cell phone – While your child may not have a cell phone, it may be a good idea to purchase a pay as you go phone for their trip. This will allow you to stay in contact with them before they arrive at their destination and give them a way to get a hold of you or another person on their emergency list if necessary.
– Send Pictures – A picture of the person they are meeting at the airport can be helpful for both your child and the person who is in charge of them during the flight.
– Pack identification – As mentioned above, your child should have identification with them. This should include a birth certificate, but a passport can take the place of that.
– Pack Medication – Flight attendants cannot give medication to your child, so we recommend making sure your child knows what they take and how to take it. This should always be packed in their carry-on bag, just in case their checked luggage gets misplaced.
– Pack a detailed schedule of the flight – Your child is not going to remember every detail of their flights, which is why you should put a copy of the itinerary in their carry-on bag. You may even want to write down what they should do if their flight is delayed or cancelled, so they do not get scared if it does happen.
– Pack snacks – Children get hungry, so snacks are a must for their flight. This way, they do not need to stop to purchase anything or go hungry until they reach their destination.
– Pack some entertainment – Children can get bored easily when they are traveling, especially on a plane. A tablet filled with movies or favorite television shows can be helpful; just make sure the device is completely charged before you arrive at the airport. Handheld video games, books, and other smaller items that your child is interested in are other excellent ideas.
– Arrive at the airport early – This is necessary, as there are many steps you need to take to get your child through security and checked in with airline personnel. This is not something you want to rush through, as forgotten steps can lead to trouble later.
One last question that many parents have is about unaccompanied minors’ international flights. Minors can fly unaccompanied internationally, but it is dependent on the airline. In this scenario, your child will need a passport, along with a notarized letter from both parents, stating they are allowed to travel.
It can be scary for any parent of unaccompanied minors flying but know that children have been flying alone for quite some time now, and there are many regulations and guidelines in place to ensure they arrive at their destination safely.