When you need to send your little one off alone into the great big world, it’s tough – although the first day of kindergarten is hard, I’m actually talking about allowing your child to travel without you. Here are ten ways to ease your mind about letting them go (just on a trip, not forever…yet):
1. Extra Fee
When your child travels alone, the airline does escort them and tries to ensure their trip is safe and smooth. For this service, there is an extra fee involved when your child is traveling alone. Depending on the airline you can prepay this fee. If you have not prepaid it then be prepared to pay at check-in. It’s usually around $100 but each airline is different.
Stop at the airline counter before going to the security line. You will have to complete a form (some can be found in advance on the airline’s website). Have all your information with you including your driver’s license, phone, and address of who is picking them up at the destination. Also, let the person who is picking them up know, they will need identification too.
3. At the Gate
Also at the counter, you will receive your escort pass so you can get through security. Your child will not need identification (for domestic travel). You will go through security with them and wait at the gate until your child’s flight takes off (just in case they have to return to the gate, you need to be there for them).
4. Explain Details
Tell your child about various situations they may encounter. Things like:
- Finding the bathrooms
(usually front and back, sometimes in the middle)
- Using the bathroom
(the flusher may not be what they are used to and it’s loud, also, the sink may work differently)
- Placing their carryon bag
(it goes in front of their seat not under their own seat)
- Getting a drink
(they can use their tray table)
- Waiting on the runway before taking off
(sometimes it’s a long wait and could be confusing to your child)
- Keeping your seat belt fastened while sitting
(talk about turbulence, just in case)
- Remaining in their seat until the flight attendant comes
(you don’t want them leaving the plane before they are supposed to)
Although some of these may seem obvious, if you’ve never flown before they can be quite disconcerting. It’s best to review so your child feels comfortable.
5. Cry Later
Save your tears until after they board the flight. They will be looking for your reassurance and crying in front of them may make them more nervous.
6. No Bulkhead
It’s best not to get your child a bulkhead seat. Although they may have more room, they can’t keep their bag with them. Putting their bag overhead will make things more difficult for them and others around them since someone will have to help them get whatever they need.
7. Stay in contact
Let the person who is picking them up know when the plane takes off and request they contact you as soon as your little one is with them. Also, if your child doesn’t have a cell phone, you may want to consider a prepaid cell phone just in case of an emergency.
Be sure to pack snacks and things for them to do in their carryon. Although they may be able to purchase a snack on board, it’s always better to have what they like with them. Do this for even short flights; some delays can run hours long – you want them to be prepared. Also, give them a small amount of cash, again, just in case of emergency.
Pack their clothes in order of how you think they might wear them and pack them extra. They may change outfit’s midday, have a spill or something else you’re not thinking about, but they’ll be prepared.
Give them a checklist with everything you’ve packed them. When it comes time to return home, they can go over the packing list to be sure they’ve got everything. This works like a charm since you can’t be there to go around and double check – they’ve got it all down!
Chin up; this is just one more step in your little one’s life to becoming their own person – you are creating a great, self-assured person!
Below is a list of a few airlines’ unaccompanied minor policies to help you prepare even more!
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