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Traveling by Air When You Need Extra Assistance 
 
by Martin Loughlin September 27, 2005

If Your Child Has to Travel Alone

It is a huge adventure for a child to travel alone, and it is perhaps almost as stressful for the parents who see him or her off as it can be for the child itself. If your young child needs to travel alone, first check with your airline as to their particular requirements; most airlines have a minimum age restriction. The age of your child also determines whether they are allowed to take connecting flights or only non-stop flights. Of course, you will want your child on a non-stop flight, wherever possible. Your airline may also not allow you to book a child traveling alone on the last flight of the day if they are changing planes somewhere – in case of a flight delay they would then be stranded overnight somewhere.

Most airlines will charge you an “unaccompanied minor” fee, which can usually be prepaid by phone, or in person at the airport. This charge covers the extra work involved by the airline to basically keep an eye on your child for the duration of the journey – especially important if your child is booked on connecting flights. When you drop your child off at the airport, somebody from the airline will then stay with him or her until check in time, and also make sure the check in process goes smoothly. Once your child arrives at their destination, an airline agent will stay with them until they have been safely met at the other end.

If somebody is meeting your child at their destination, you may have to give the name and phone number of that person to your airline – who will then hand the child over only if provided with an official photo id. The person meeting your child may be able to go directly to the gate to meet them, in which case they will be provided with a temporary gate pass. And don’t forget to get your child a frequent flyer number – they are never too young to start earning airline miles!

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