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Children Flying Alone

Children Flying Alone

child flying alone

When children are in a situation where they need to take a flight without any parent or guardian with them, there are many preparations that need to be made in advance of the flight to ensure the child arrives at his or her destination safely. An unaccompanied minor (UMs) is the term used by the airline industry for children flying alone between the ages of five and 14. It is common for children of this age to fly alone. In fact, millions of children do it every year. The flight attendants of all airlines are trained to take special care of these young travelers to make sure they do not feel scared and overwhelmed by the air travel experience.

 

Ever since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, air travel has become much more complicated than it once was. Airports are often extremely congested and can be a scary place to children flying alone who are not used to being around so many people. The efficiency of airlines has also decreased in recent years. There are now more flight delays and cancellations than at any other point in history. If this should happen to children flying alone, it is important that he or she knows how to handle the situation. It is also important that the airline be informed that your child is flying with them so they can do their best to keep your child relaxed. Let’s take a look at the steps you need to follow in order to get prepared for children flying alone:

 

Children flying alone

 

1. What airline should you use?

First, find the airlines that fly to your desired destination. You will then need to find out if there are any direct flights. Ideally, children flying alone should not need to go through the stress of changing flights if it can be avoided. Call the airline and ask them if they currently have any unaccompanied minor policies in place. Most of the current policies regarding children flying alone are similar for the majority of airlines. However, always do your research and find out exactly what these policies are ahead of time. You should do the following:

Compare the fees that the various airlines charge for Ums. These fees have a tendency to vary greatly depending on the airline.

Find out if the airline offers any extras for children flying alone. Many airlines have special snacks reserved specifically for UMs. There are also airlines that have special “kid’s clubs” at some of the airports where their hubs are located. Certain airlines seat UMs in the same section of the plane, usually in the front or the back. However, there are still some airlines that allow UMs to sit anywhere on the plane.

 

2. Connecting flights

There are certain airlines that do not permit children flying alone to take flights that have connections. You should also be aware that the airlines that do permit this practice will most likely charge you an additional fee to have an employee help your child during the process of switching planes. If this is the case, be sure to verify how much the fee is.

 

3. Necessary paperwork

You cannot simply buy your child a plane ticket and drop them off at the airport. The process is much more involved. The parent or guardian of the child must download and print out all of the necessary liability and consent forms and make sure they are properly filled out before the child’s flight. Your child’s name and age, a history of any medical conditions and any prescription medications he or she is taking are some of the details that will need to be included on the forms. You will also need to include the name of the individual who is scheduled to pick up the child at the destination. Once the plane arrives, the child will be brought to a designated area by an employee of the airline and released to the individual you have named on the form. Their identity will be verified by the airline employee.

 

4. Have the airline clarify their policy regarding young adult passengers

The majority of airlines consider a young adult passenger to be a person who is 12 years of age or older. When the child is this age, airline employees will not help the child before, during and after the flight unless the parent or guardian makes a special request and pays an additional fee. If you fail to make these arrangements ahead of time, the airline will assume that your child will be able to make the proper arrangements on their own if a flight happens to be redirected, delayed or cancelled.

 

5. Make your child’s flight arrangements easy to follow

Even if the airline you decide to use permits connecting flights for UM passengers, you should try to avoid this situation as much as possible. You want to make the journey as easy as you can for the child, so this means making a travel itinerary with no connecting flights, if such flights are available. You ideally do not want your child to have to leave the aircraft until he or she reaches their destination. Always make reservations when your child is going to fly. It is not advisable to have your child fly standby.

 

6. Make arrangements for the meals your child will eat

If the flight is going to have meals served on it, make a reservation for a meal. This is especially important of there are restrictions to your child’s diet that need to be observed. Meals such as Kosher, vegetarian and other special meals will require a reservation. If a meal will not be provided, make a meal for your child to bring on the flight.

 

7. Ask for e-tickets

The computers of the airlines have e-tickets stored in them. This will allow your child to travel without the need to carry a paper ticket that could possibly get lost.

 

8. Medications

The vast majority of airlines will not allow members of the flight crew to give your child medication at any time. If something should happen to your child medically as a result of medication that was administered incorrectly, the airline could be held legally responsible. Therefore, if your child needs medication that he or she will need help taking during the flight, contact your doctor for possible alternatives.

 

9. Make preparations for your child’s needs before, during and after the flight

Tell your child that he or she should never leave the airport alone, or with a person they do not recognize. Your child should know to talk to a security guard or airline employee if he or she is in trouble and needs help. This will include if people sitting nearby are causing problems.

If a connecting flight is necessary, make sure your child knows exactly what to do. Write down all of the instructions and details your child will need to know. Include the name of the connecting airline, the flight number and the airport’s name. You should also include the return flight details on the same paper.

Tell your child that an employee for the airline will be walking with him or her to meet the person that will pick them up at the destination. Make sure the child understands to always stay on the plane, unless all passengers are ordered to exit for some reason.

 

10. Make your child comfortable

Make sure your child is dressed in comfortable clothes that can be easily removed in the plane’s small bathroom.

If your child has never flown before, explain the common safety procedures that are present on all flights.

Make sure your child knows that meals are served at specific times, but that water, soda or juice can be requested at any time.

 

11. Pack a bag for your child that includes some of these items:

Entertainment items, such as a portable video game device with headphones, coloring books or regular books; if your child will be bringing a portable CD or DVD player, make sure to explain the rules of using electronic devices during a flight. Prepare your child for the announcement that will ask electronic devices to be shut down during the takeoff and landing of the plane.

 

12. Cell phone

Give your child a cell phone and make sure he or she knows how to use it. Demonstrate how to make and receive a call, as well as how to switch the phone off and on. Save your numbers in the phone, as well as the number of the person picking up your child.

 

13. Cash

Give your child some money to use in the event of an emergency. Make sure they know to keep the money on them at all times.

 

14. Arrive early

As with all flights, it is a good idea to arrive at the airport at least two hours before your child’s flight is scheduled to leave. This will allow time for security delays and filling out any additional paperwork that might be required.

Using the steps listed above will help to ensure that your child safely reaches his or her destination. Having a child fly on their own can be stressful for parents. However, airlines deal with children flying alone every day, so they are trained to take care of their young passengers. With the proper amount of preparation, air travel will be an easy and fun experience for your child.

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