Be sure to call your airline to find out its specific regulations regarding children flying alone. In general though, airlines follow these guidelines.Here are the things you should know when your child flies alone:
The ground rules set by the airline. Every airline is different, and the rules, regulations, and policies change for each carrier, but generally they are as follows:
•Children under five may not fly alone.
•Children between the ages of five and seven may fly non-stop only (no connecting flights), and may not travel on the last flight of the day.
•Children eight and older may fly alone on all flights.
•If your child is under twelve you need to provide the name and contact information for the person picking them up at the airport. Gate personnel should check the ID of the person picking your child up from the flight.
•You can pay an escort fee to make sure your child has a flight representative with them to ensure they make connections, get picked up, are on board when the plane takes off, etc.
Let’s take a look at some of these things more closely:
If you put your child on a non-stop flight, chances are they will make it to their destination without incident. The thing many parents worry about is what happens to their child if the person who is supposed to pick them up in not there or is running late?
An airport is a big place and can be scary for a child all alone who does not know what to do or where to go. So, lucky for you, regulations are in place to protect your child. If your child is under twelve, you’ll be required to supply the name, address, and phone number of the person meeting him before they board. At the end of the flight, young travelers are escorted off the plane first (or last), and gate personnel check the IDs of people picking up children. Kids are kept at the gate until they are picked up. However, beyond this you will want to supply your child with a cell phone or a calling card and make sure they know how to use it.
Another worry many parents have is what happens if their child has a layover or a connecting flight. Who makes sure your child makes the connection and supervises her between flights? Well no one has to unless you pay them, some airlines provide an escort service for free, but others charge. Airlines will escort your child to her connecting gate, usually for a $30 fee added to the ticket price. From there, the gate agents for the connecting flight make sure your child boards the right plane. Your child gets to the right gate, but that does not mean so one watches to see if they stay there. The gate agent is left in charge of them, but they have their hands full, so you will want to talk to your child about staying at the gate, and telling someone if they need to go somewhere like the bathroom. Also, make sure your child has a cell phone or calling card so in case they do miss their flight they can reach you right away. Obviously, the best way to avoid this problem is to only book your child on direct flights. If you have to book connections, then have them start their journey as early in the day as possible so that if they miss a flight you can arrange for them to take another one so that they are not stuck overnight.