Having your child fly alone can be nerve wracking enough, so calm your nerves and exercise some precautions before sending them on a flight. The following are some rules and regulations, as well as suggestions for when your child flies alone:
When you book the plane ticket, try not to do it online, but with a representative of the airline. This way you can specify that the child will be flying alone and the airline can plan on it.
Whenever possible, book a non-stop or direct flight. Avoid booking the last flight of the day because cancellation of such a flight may result in overnight delays. You do not want your child to be stuck overnight in some strange city.
Ask for a written copy of the airline’s policies and procedures for children traveling alone, and review them with your child. This way there is no uncovered ground.
When booking your child’s flight, ask about things like food. Children need to be comfortable, especially if they are picky. So make sure they have food they will like, and if the food being served won’t please them, then pack something for them. Most of the time you can pack a healthy, “non-messy” snack for the trip and keep the flight easier and happier.
Try to reserve a bulkhead seat, so that your child may relax and airline personnel can more easily check on him or her. This is a good way to have people keep their eye on your child for you.
Talk to your child as much as possible about the experience, and make sure they know what to do if something goes wrong or if they are uncomfortable.
If you want your child to be comfortable, then practice the experience. Take them to the airport. Tour the gate area, make sure they understand the basics of the flying experience. Help your child understand that it is their duty to follow all of the cabin procedures and rules as explained by the flight attendant for his or her comfort and safety.
On the day your child is scheduled to fly, you want to get to the airport early, and be sure to fill out the necessary paperwork. You can get a security pass to take your child to the gate and watch them board the plane. You should be sure to remain at the gate until the plane takes off, that way you know for sure that your child did not get off the plane. This way your child will know you are there, and can sit with you if the flight gets delayed; and if for some reason it gets canceled or redirected, you will be there to make alternative arrangements.
If weather is bad, or there is a chance that the flight could be diverted or canceled, your child won’t be allowed to fly.
Be sure to provide home and work telephone numbers, addresses, and identification for your child. If you have to safety pin this information to their shirt. Write their name on their underwear, or something. This will help identify them if something were to happen. Make certain you have a back-up plan for the person meeting the plane at the destination, in case they are delayed. Make sure your child has a cell phone and cash for emergencies.
Be sure the airline will require photo identification prior to releasing the child. Make certain that your child knows the person he or she is flying to meet, so that they do not go home with someone they do not know.
Make sure your child has a carry on with something for them to do in it, and with ID, any medication they have, some snacks, and some cash. Of course be courteous of other passengers with games that are not loud, obnoxious, etc.