When your child flies alone there are some regulations that apply to them, and some things you can do to help ensure their safety. Let’s first take a look at the little things you can do at home or to prepare for the flight that will help, and then the things the airlines recommend:
First and foremost you need to discuss this flight with them. Your child needs to understand the dangers that flying alone presents and how to avoid or eliminate those. For example, talk to your child about not getting off the plane once they have boarded.
Talk to them about not holding things for strangers, and about not getting too friendly or sharing personal information such as full name, number, or address of people they do not know. It is essential that you instruct them to never leave the gate area with someone he or she doesn’t know or without the supervision of assigned airline staff. If they know not to become too friendly with other passengers because these are people the child doesn’t know, you do not have to worry as much about the problems that come with that. As in any social situation, it’s okay for your child to be polite but restrained. Caution your child not to reveal any personal information about him- or herself to other passengers. Talk to your child about the role of the flight attendant, and how this is the person who they need to seek out if they have any questions, not another adult.
Beyond talking to your child, you will want to prepare them with things as well. For example, make sure your child has enough cash on hand for emergencies, or a prepaid Visa. This way if they get delayed, laid over, etc. they will be able to eat, phone you, or stay in a hotel, etc. If you can, give your child a cell phone so that you can stay in contact with them. Make sure the phone is fully charged before they board the plane. Talk to your child about only using these items for emergencies. Pack them a carry on with some snacks they will enjoy, and some books, toys, etc. to keep them busy while flying.
Your child can not fly alone unless they are at least five. Some airlines require you to use the unaccompanied minor service for children five through seven. This is a service where you pay additional money, but you have an airline attendant assigned to your child to help them with making their flight and exiting to the right person.
If your child is flying alone it is wise to book them on early flights, and to book them on non-stop flights. This way if they are delayed, or there is a problem they are not stuck in the airport over night, but can catch a later flight. If they fly on non-stop it means that they run a lesser risk of getting lost or stuck in some unknown city.
You can ask to get a security clearance to get to the boarding area of the plane and get your child on properly. It is wise to stay at the gate area until the plane takes off. This way you know your child was on it, and you know that there was not a delay or something.
It is smart to use the airline service that requires any minor to be picked up by a verified adult. You will specify with the airline who is to pick up your child. Then, when the plane arrives an airline personnel will escort your child to the loading area, and will only release them to someone with proper ID and who signs a release form.
When your child flies alone it can be nerve wracking for both you and them, so take precautions and talk to your airline booking agent about what you can do to ensure it is a safe and pleasant experience.