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Flying Solo: Is your Child Ready to Travel Alone

Submitted by on March 11, 2013 – 4:47 pm

When is your child ready to fly alone? Most airlines suggest children as young as 5 years old are able to fly alone. However, the decision is initially up to the parents.

Parents are the best judge at determining whether or not their child is ready. Before booking a flight, think about the responsibilities that come with flying alone and ask yourself questions to determine if you think your child is ready. Is my child comfortable around strangers? Do they take direction well? Can they keep track of their belongings? Will they be able to quietly entertain themselves for extended periods of time? These types of questions will help you make your final decision.

Once you have decided that your child is ready, you have to be prepared to do some research about the airline your child will be traveling on. Each airline has its own policies, restrictions and regulations, which can vary. To get you started, here are some general facts on unaccompanied minors traveling:

Age Limit
Most airlines consider children between the ages of 5 to 11 years old that fly alone as an unaccompanied minor (UM). However, some airlines consider up to age 15 as an unaccompanied minor. If your child is over the age limit, the policies might change and they could be considered as an adult flyer.

Service Fee
Some airlines may charge an additional fee for unaccompanied minor services. For example, if your 8-year-old has a connecting flight (some airlines won’t even allow that) the airline will provide them with an assistant to help the child get to the correct connecting flight.

Departing and Arriving
All airlines require specific information (name, ID card, address and phone number) about the person who’s dropping the child off and picking the child up. They also require an adult at the counter of the origin and destination airport. If you don’t follow these instructions, the child may not be able to complete their journey.

Deciding whether or not your child is responsible and comfortable enough to fly alone is always up to you. If you agree with the airlines policies and requirements for an unaccompanied minor, then by all means let them spread their wings a little and fly.