Flying Solo? - The Unaccompanied Minor
Before You Fly
Many airlines will not allow an unaccompanied minor to be booked on the last flight of the day, and it is a good idea never to book an unaccompanied minor on the last flight of the day in case of delays or a missed connection.
There will usually be a fee for the airline’s unaccompanied minor services, and if a child is traveling on more than one airline, you will likely have to pay more than one fee. Rules for unaccompanied minors vary by airline, and connections are the most important difference among airlines. Some airlines will allow an unaccompanied minor to take connecting flights, while others insist that the child take direct flights only. You may also find that children who are eight years or older can take connecting flights.
While young children are not required to carry their own identification on domestic flights (everyone, even infants, must have a passport to fly internationally), it may be a good idea to get an identification card for your child if he or she will be flying alone. You can shop from websites such as http://www.kidstravelcard.com/, where your child’s identification, photo and guardian information can be placed on an ID card. You might also want to place a card or sheet of paper with several emergency contact numbers and any allergies or medical conditions in your child’s carry-on bag and let an airline representative know where it can be found.
At the Airport
When you check in, you will be asked to provide information about your child. Airlines will typically ask for the child’s identification information, a parent or guardian’s authorization, the flight itinerary and the contact details of the person meeting the child at his or her destination. You must know who will be meeting your child at the time of check-in, and airlines will not release the child to anyone except for the designated person.
Once checked in, your child may be asked to wear something such as a hat or a button that will alert airlines employees of his status as an unaccompanied minor. An airline representative will then escort your child through security and bring him to his gate. You will be required to remain at the airport until the plane has departed. Your child will most likely board prior to the rest of the passengers, and remain on the plane until all other passengers have disembarked. During the flight, your child will be supervised by the in-flight crew.