World Ventures has some good tips if you or someone you know have children that need to fly alone this Holiday Season.
While your child may view such an adventure as awesome, you begin to worry as soon as the ticket is purchased, racking yourself with questions.
Here are some guidelines to follow to ensure that your tiny traveler arrives to his or her destination without experiencing any emotional turbulence.
Quick Glance at the Rules
Many airlines, including all of the major U.S. airlines, allow unaccompanied minors as young as five to travel alone. Your child will be escorted by an airline employee from the moment they are checked in by you or a guardian and until they are picked up by an authorized individual at their destination. You will have to pay the normal adult fare for their seat, along with an escort fee—generally between $75 – $100.
Book Nonstop When Possible
Since it would be difficult for the airline to monitor the child overnight if a late connection is missed, it’s recommended that you book nonstop tickets when possible. If a connection is unavoidable, try to schedule it at a smaller airport that would not intimidate the child as much as, say, O’Hare.
Spending Time at the Airport
Arrive at the airport early, so you don’t have to rush the boarding process. You can also request a gate pass to get through security, so you can stay with your child until he boards and the flight has left the gate. Once you’re at the gate, introduce your child to the lead flight attendant, who may allow you to escort him to his seat.
Information and Money
Make sure your child carries proper identification and an emergency contact sheet with phone numbers and addresses of not just you, but also the person picking him up and other relatives. Also, it’s wise to leave your child with enough cash to use in an emergency, or at least to buy snacks on the plane.
Charged Up & Ready to Go
Be sure to charge up your child’s various electronic gadgets (iPod, cell phone, portable DVD player, handheld game) as well as pack extra batteries in his carry-on. If your kid does not have a cell phone, then teach him how to contact you from a pay phone using a calling card or by calling collect.
The Pickup Person
Whoever will be picking up your child should have all the details about the flights along with photo identification that matches the information you supplied the airline. The pickup person should arrive early, for he or she will need to obtain a gate pass and pass through security before meeting your child at the gate.
Talk about the Trip
The most important step you can take to help your child enjoy her flight is to talk to her about it. Describe each step of the journey in detail, from the security check, tarmac delays and take-off to the in-flight movies, baggage claim and who will be collecting her on the other side. Also discuss what is proper in-flight behavior, including what to talk about with other passengers and what to do if a passenger acts inappropriately. They less your child is surprised about, the better she will enjoy the flight.