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Sending your children on an airplane can be a trial; however, if you know the best way for unaccompanied minors to travel it will be a breeze for both you and the kids. Each airline has their own rules and regs, but they pretty much follow all the same details. Kids have to be over 5 years old to fly as an unaccompanied minor.
My daughters have flown to Italy on their own and I was so impressed with the service provide by Emirates Airline. From the kid's waiting lounge to the on flight service my daughters received (including being upgraded to first class both ways!).
1. Be sure to check with the airline for the right flights. Since unaccompanied minors can’t take the last plane or flight of the day, you’ll have to be sure of the flight times. The best time for kids to fly is early morning or the late afternoon. There are more people on the flight to keep an eye on them if they have any problems.
2. If it’s the first time your child is flying alone explain how the traveling will go and the details of the trip, so they know what’s going on. Explaining every detail will help them cope better and keep them calm.
3. Some airlines don’t allow kids between 5 and 8 to take a flight that connects to another one. When booking the flight, be sure it goes straight through to their destination.
4. Most airlines charge an additional surcharge for unaccompanied minors over 8 years old who need a connecting flight. They have to be escorted through the terminal to the flight gate.
5. As you purchase the ticket for your child to travel, most airlines require another phone call directly to the airline telling them you purchased a ticket for an unaccompanied minor. If you don’t call them, they may not allow your child on the flight.
6. In order for everything to go right while your child travels as an unaccompanied minor, be sure to get all your ducks in a row early. Don’t leave any of it to the last minute. Airlines are stuffy about their rules. Don’t forget there will be additional charges when your child travels alone. The end of summer months is when school restarts, and holidays are a time when most kids travel back home. So, airlines have gone to considerable amount of trouble to set up programs that are just for unaccompanied minors. They setup some rules that you have to follow when your kids travel alone.
7. If the youth is 12 years or older, they can act as guardian to younger kids when traveling. Younger kids are usually 5 to 11 years old or up to 14 year old depending on the airline. The older child accompanies the younger child, even on connecting flights. As long as the extra charges and documentation is done properly, the kids shouldn’t have any problems. However, again, it depends on the airline.
8. Some airlines charge extra for unaccompanied minor services and some will charge an adult fare instead of a child fare. The amount depends on the flight, destination and connecting flights. Some airlines require permits, documentation such as birth certificates, and other things. Not all airlines have the same rules.
9. Most airlines will only change you one fee even if two kids are traveling together. Much like “buy one, get one free”.
10. Just in case of missed flights, delays, or cancellations, the airline will normally contact you. If your child missed a connecting flight, they will try to let you know what’s going on. The best way is to be sure they have all the numbers to contact you in case there is some problem when your child is traveling.
12. You should be sure your child has a cell
phone to contact you in case they get frightened or scared when
traveling as an unaccompanied minor. It can be very terrifying if
something goes wrong and your child doesn’t know what to do. Be sure the
airline has all numbers to reach you in case of emergency, delays,
missed flights, etc.
Some airlines now allow the use of mobile phones in flight, however this is still a new technology so check first.