There are many reasons a child might travel alone on an airplane. Maybe they are visiting cousins in another state, or perhaps they are going on visitation with a non-custodial parent. Traveling on airline flights without parents is a fairly common occurrence. It can be stressful for everyone, though, especially the first time. There are steps you can take to make the situation easier for both you and your child.
Make Arrangements with the Airline
Before sending your child on an airline flight alone, contact the potential airlines and ask them what their policies are in regards to unaccompanied children. Some airlines may have better customer service than others, so choose one that puts your mind at ease. Most airlines allow for children to travel alone, and even have staff to act as buddies and helpers to them, on the ground and in the air. Find out what their specific policies are, and who will be assisting your child as they travel.
Go Through the Situation in Detail with Your Child
Your child will feel more comfortable with the situation if you have gone over it in detail with them. Talk to your child about what exactly will happen, who to ask for help, and how to contact you if necessary. It can be a little nerve-wracking for everyone the first time, but it eventually becomes easier as time goes on.
Send Lots of Snacks
Your child will likely become hungry while flying, and will need snacks. Choose foods that store well in room temperature and that provide him (or her) with energy to sustain him through the flight. Things like sandwiches, granola bars, nuts, dried fruit and string cheese are good options.
Always send more than you think is needed, in case of an unforeseen event that causes him to be on board longer than expected. Beverages will often be confiscated when your child goes through security, so send some cash so he can buy himself a bottle of water for the flight.
Send Plenty of Entertainment
An airplane trip can become boring for a child, especially if it is long. Send lots of age-appropriate activities for your child. You will want to send a variety of things to do, such as coloring sheets, crayons, journals, game consoles, a device to listen to music on, and earphones.
Ask Them to Contact You upon Arrival
Arrange for your child to contact you immediately when he arrives at his destination. If he has a smartphone or any device to text from, it can generally be powered on as soon as the airplane lands and an announcement has been made. Also, ask the adult who picks up your child to contact you as soon as he is safe with them.
One of the most important things to remember when sending your child on an airplane alone is to be calm. A child traveling alone is a stressful situation for mom and dad, but many children do it often and without incident. Prepare your child, prepare yourself, and enjoy witnessing your child set out on their new adventure.