It can be daunting to send your child on an airplane without you, but if you take proper precaution it does not have to be any scarier than sending them to school. The following are some of the things you will want to know to ease your mind and ensure your child does not get stranded when flying alone:
When to book their flight: part of easing your mind about your child flying alone is booking them on the right flight. Whenever possible book your child on the earliest flight of the day, and a non-stop or direct flight. The reason for this is that if it is the first flight of the day, and if they have connections, or there are delays, they can still catch other planes, and not have to spend the night in the airport or at a hotel in an unknown city. Connections are a recipe for disaster. Your child’s flight could get in late and they could miss their connecting flight, or they might not be able to find the right terminal, or any number of other things. So, help your child fly with as few connections as possible to help ensure they do not get stranded in some unknown city.
Use an escort: If your child is a minor you have the option of hiring an escort to help them with the flying experience. This person will ensure they get on the plane, that they are comfortable, get off the plane, get their bags, and get released to the right person. If your child has a connecting flight they will take your child to the gate and wait with them until their connection boards. This service has a cost, and that cost varies from airline to airline. Southwest does not charge anything, but they also do not fly internationally, and they will not let kids under 7 on flights with connections.
Emergency pack: If you want to ease your mind there is only so much you can do personally, but one of the things you can do is to pack your child with items in case they do get stranded. Of course you want to hope for the best, but plan for the worse. Give your child a cell phone that works and is fully charged so that they can reach you in case of an emergency, program emergency contact numbers into the phone so it is easy.
Provide them with a calling card, and make sure they know how to use it. Pack some snacks so that they are not going hours on end without food. Make sure they have some emergency cash or a temporary credit card so that they can get transportation, food, and lodging if need be. Also provide them with something to do on the plane and while they wait. If you pack a back with games, toys, movies, books, etc. they will be less likely to wander off, and they will be less likely to fill idle time with talking to strangers about their personal life.
Security pass: A great way to ease your mind is to see your child get on the plane and see the plane take off, at least that way you know that the things you can control went smoothly. So, request that the airline provide you with a gate pass so that you can get through security and wait with them at the gate until they board, then you can watch the plane until it takes off.
Check weather: Sometimes planes get rerouted, delayed, and even cancelled if the weather is bad. If you want to have a comfortable time while your child is flying alone, check the weather and rebook the ticket if it looks like there is a chance it could be delayed or something.
Talk to person picking them up: Make sure that the person picking them up is the person the airline has down, and make sure they bring their ID so the UM can be released into their custody. Also, make sure they call you and you two stay in touch so that if there is a problem everyone is aware and can know what to do to remedy it.