How to Know When Your Child Is Ready to Fly Alone

Flying alone is not a big deal for most kids. Airports are safe places — everyone who goes into the airport is screened — and most airlines have special procedures for unaccompanied minors. In fact, your child might feel really excited to get the chance to fly alone. It might be you who’s not quite ready.

child-on-plane

How It Works

If you’re used to purchasing airline tickets online, many websites like Flights.com and cheapair.com will be happy to help you book tickets for an unaccompanied minor that is 15 years old, or older. If you want to buy a ticket for a younger child, you’ll either have to contact an airline directly, or you can contact the website and ask someone to assist you both with finding a great fare and booking your unaccompanied minor.

Most airlines let kids travel alone, under certain circumstances, once they’re at least 5 years old. Kids under 7 can usually only fly on non-stop or direct flights (the plane may stop to drop off or pick up passengers, but the child doesn’t have to change planes).

When kids turn 8, they can take both direct and connecting flights, but they’re usually subject to unaccompanied minor procedures. UM status assigns someone to escort the child off of the plane to meet the person who’s picking the child up at the airport. When you drop your child off, you’ll be allowed to escort your child to the gate, and your child will pre-board the plane so that flight attendants can easily identify him. Once kids turn 12, they can usually fly without UM supervision, but you can still pay for the service if you’re worried that your child can’t handle the responsibility.

teen-at-airport

Is My Kid Ready?

Kids with UM service will have someone to help them board and deplane, so they’ll never actually be alone at the airport. Still, ask yourself these questions to determine whether your child is ready to go it alone.

Is There a Connecting Flight, or Does the Plane Stop at an Intermediate Airport?  

If your child has to make a connection and is flying as an unaccompanied minor, airline staff will help your child make the connecting flight. If your child is over 12, he’ll need to know how to navigate the airport to find a connecting gate. Most in-flight magazines have maps that can help him find his way, and he can always ask airline staff for assistance.

Do I Trust the Person Who’s Picking My Child up?

UMs aren’t released by airline personnel if there’s no one to pick them up. However, if your child is over 12, and if someone who is chronically late is picking your child up at the airport, your child will need to know not to panic. Talk to him or her about waiting in a designated area, and talk about what they’ll do if the person doesn’t show up.

traveling-child

What if the Flight Gets Cancelled?

Most airlines are good about calling you to reschedule if they foresee a major problem with a flight, such as an incoming snowstorm. If your child is traveling as a UM and the flight is cancelled, airport personnel will contact the person at the destination who’s picking up your child, and they’ll supervise your child until he gets on a different flight. If your child isn’t traveling as a UM, then he might be released into the airport with nothing but a new ticket and a meal voucher. If being on his own is going to make your child panic, then consider paying for UM service.

Am I Ready?

In today’s world, most teens have cellphones, but if yours doesn’t, make sure to purchase a prepaid phone and to teach your child how to call you collect in case the phone gets lost. Also, emphasize that your teen needs to return your calls and your texts immediately, even if it’s just a short response.

Small children are closely supervised in the UM program, so child should be fine. If you have a teen, whether you’re ready or not boils down to whether you trust your child. Most kids can navigate the airport just fine, but if your kid might feel uncomfortable or unable to deal with all issues that come up, then you might feel safer paying for UM service even if your child is a teenager.

how-to-know-when-your-child-is-ready-to-fly

Comments

  1. Great post!! You have writing good post. People needs to take much more care about their children if they fly alone. New generation’s child is more smart and they can ready for fly alone.

  2. Great post!! You have writing good post. People needs to take much more care about their children if they fly alone. New generation’s child is more smart and they can ready for fly alone.

  3. Lone Gray says:

    Great post!! You have writing good post. People needs to take much more care about their children if they fly alone. New generation’s child is more smart and they can ready for fly alone.

Leave a Reply to Lone Gray Cancel reply

*