As we approach the springtime, it’s a good idea to discuss young adults traveling and unaccompanied travelers. Often these travelers are minors, but, in some cases, they can be disabled adults as well. As a single mom, I often used this service to have my kids visit their biological father or other relatives. I have never had an issue with the service, and I think it’s an excellent option for young travelers to get to a destination without the added expense of purchasing another ticket to accompany them on their trip. However, there are a few facts people should know about unaccompanied travelers.
Unaccompanied travel policies.
There is no one policy for unaccompanied travel. If you consider this service, please check with the airline as unaccompanied policies differ depending on children flying alone or under the designation of an unaccompanied minor. Generally, children over age five and up to age 15 can travel as unaccompanied minors for a fee. In some cases, minors over the age of 16 can travel as young adults without a cost. Again, each situation and airline have their own policies, so please check with the airline. Please note that policies will differ if the unaccompanied minor travels on more than one airline.
When paying for unaccompanied service, the airlines’ general expectation is to provide the minor traveler with additional supervision. This service will include getting the minor traveler on or off the airplane, supervision while on the aircraft, escort to any connections, and any assistance if there is a delay or any other unplanned trip interruptions. At the start of the trip, an adult will fill out unaccompanied minor paperwork for the traveler. In some cases, the adult will then transfer the care of the minor to the airline agent or be given a pass to accompany the minor to the departure gate. On arrival, the designated adult will go through the same process, and they will meet the minor at the arrival gate, or the minor will be delivered to the designated adult at baggage claim.
Unaccompanied service is just that, unaccompanied. If the traveler is not prepared to travel independently, the adult should carefully consider this option. Even though there is inflight supervision, the unaccompanied traveler is not always supervised while in flight. There can be flight disruptions due to mechanical delays, weather, or even aircraft changes on any given day. I have had cases where the child has cried the entire flight for varying reasons. In other cases, there is no guarantee that the child will be seated close to a flight attendant or be in view of the flight attendant the entire flight. At the end of the day, it is up to the adult to consider whether the traveler is capable mentally and emotionally of traveling on their own.
With complete preparation, the unaccompanied process can still go awry. However, a few unaccompanied traveler tips will help ensure the process goes smoothly. Book nonstop flights to make the journey as simple as possible. Provide the unaccompanied traveler with a way of contact in the event of an emergency, enable tracking service on that device, and pack a travel charger for the device. Make sure your traveler has a way to pay for their food or incidental expenses. Finally, enable flight alerts or track the flight through the airline or an App to get up-to-date flight information.
Every situation is different so think long and carefully about having your minor child or disabled adult travel unaccompanied. Have you or would you consider unaccompanied service. I’d like to know, so comment below.