Available Now
MetroKids
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed Feed Edit Module

Children Flying Alone

How to prepare your kids to fly as an unaccompanied minor

(page 1 of 2)

Summer is the season most kids fly alone as unaccompanied minors, to visit family over their vacation.

Two summers ago, Solomon Lapides was eager to visit his grandmother, Debra Zalut, in Cherry Hill, NJ. Trouble was, he lived thousands of miles away in California and no family trip was planned. After carefully discussing the situation and researching their options, his parents agreed that Solomon, then 11, was ready to fly cross-country by himself. 

Estimates peg the annual number of “unaccompanied minors” — kids between 5 and 11 who fly (mostly to visit relatives) without adult supervision — at 7 million, according to USLegal.com. Though rules differ by airline, safety is the ultimate concern: Unaccompanied minors are assigned to airline personnel who ensure that kids board the right aircraft, are seated properly and are delivered to their designated parties after deplaning. However, these staffers have other responsibilities, so it’s essential that kids who fly solo are responsible enough to feel comfortable on their own.

Ready for takeoff?

Experts agree that knowing when your child is ready to fly alone is less about chronological age and more about maturity. Solomon, now 13, was keen to make the trip by himself. “I had gone multiple times on a plane before with my family, so I was used to the whole procedure,” he says. In fact, he appreciated the special treatment being an unaccompanied minor afforded him: “A woman working for the airport met me at security and let me cut the line to go right to the front. That’s normally an hour-long process.”

“Although there are minimum and maximum ages set by the airlines [see “Unaccompanied Matters,” above], parents are in the best position to decide whether their child is ready to travel alone,” says Caitlin Harvey of the US Department of Transportation. “Ask these questions,” suggests Voorhees, NJ psychologist Randi S. Kell, PhD: “Is your child confident in identifying airline personnel and seeking out help? How does he handle unexpected situations that arise without warning? How independent and responsible is he? Does he have good common sense?”

Next page: Flight plan for solo-flight success

Add your comment:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More on this topic »Travel

Summer Vacation + College Tour

Summer Vacation + College Tour

How to combine summer vacation with a college tour

Take the Kids: Clayton & Smyrna, DE

Take the Kids: Clayton & Smyrna, DE

What to do with kids in Clayton & Smyrna, DE

Edit ModuleShow Tags

MomSpeak

The voices of local moms
Mom's Book Review: Big Machines Float

Mom's Book Review: Big Machines Float

A mom review of the picture book Big Machines Float, illustrated with photos of real boats

Comments

MomSpeak

The voices of local moms
6 Ways to Prepare Kids for Summer Break

6 Ways to Prepare Kids for Summer Break

6 ways parents can prepare their kids for summer break

Comments

MomSpeak

The voices of local moms
9 Lyme Disease Facts

9 Lyme Disease Facts

9 facts parents need to know about Lyme disease this summer

Comments

Edit ModuleShow Tags

MK Memo

MK Memo: Moms Know
Summer Is Here!

Summer Is Here!

Stories on last-minute camp signups, summer plans, summer learning, summer reading and great new rides at PA & NJ amusement parks and waterparks

Comments

Outdoor Learning in and Around Delaware

Outdoor Learning in and Around Delaware

Where to go in and around Delaware to find outdoor learning opportunities

Comments

What Every Parent Needs to Know About National Drowning Prevention Month

What Every Parent Needs to Know About National Drowning Prevention Month

How to ensure that your child is safe in and around the water

Comments

A Piece of Cake

A Piece of Cake

What Pinterest-inspired birthday cakes for kids look like when they come out of a real mom's kitchen

Comments

Save the Date: Main Line Talent Show

Save the Date: Main Line Talent Show

All about the 2nd annual Main Line Talent Show, featuring 36 young singers, dancers and musicians from 20 Greater Philadelphia schools

Comments

{/if}