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Old 09-26-2009, 11:10 AM
 
86 posts, read 186,778 times
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My 14-yr-old would like to travel "home" for the holiday break. I looked on Travelocity to see how the rates are. I was unable to get much info, because it said children under 18 need to be accompanied by an adult. I am wondering if anyone ever had a child fly alone, and if so, do I have to buy a plane ticket at a travel agency? I am not sure how else to go about this.
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Old 09-26-2009, 11:50 AM
 
14,253 posts, read 23,969,886 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsgke View Post
My 14-yr-old would like to travel "home" for the holiday break. I looked on Travelocity to see how the rates are. I was unable to get much info, because it said children under 18 need to be accompanied by an adult. I am wondering if anyone ever had a child fly alone, and if so, do I have to buy a plane ticket at a travel agency? I am not sure how else to go about this.
I would deal directly with the airlines. The policies vary by airline.

14 year olds can generally fly on most airlines NOT as an unaccompanied minor. I have flown my nephews in and out of Chicago at age 13. (My in-laws make sure that they are at the airport before the flight takes off.)


For example, here are the policies for Southwest Airlines:

Policies for Children Traveling Alone

Southwest strives to provide the best possible service to our Unaccompanied Minors (UMs). For this reason, we have special policies and requirements for children between the ages of five and 11 who are traveling without an accompanying adult.
  • Children age five through 11 may travel unaccompanied on Southwest Airlines as long as he/she has a confirmed reservation on a nonstop or direct flight (makes a stop but does not require change of planes or flight number). Proof of age may be required, so be sure to bring the child’s birth certificate or other valid identification that shows his/her date of birth.
  • Children under the age of five must be accompanied throughout their trip by a Customer 12 years of age or older.
  • Children who are 12 years of age or older travel under the same policies and terms as adults.
  • Parents or Guardians must carry a valid government-issued photo ID for dropping off and picking up of the child.
  • Southwest Airlines will not transport UMs on flights we think might be cancelled or diverted to an alternate destination due to weather or other operational situations.
  • Parents or guardians escorting the child to their departure flight must remain in the gate area until the flight is in the air.
  • Southwest Airlines personnel are not permitted to take children home or remain with them overnight in a hotel. If a UM is not met at the destination airport and we cannot reach the adult sending the child or return the child to his/her originating city at the expense of the adult who sent the UM, the child may, as a last resort, be turned over to the custody of the local police or welfare department.
  • Starting with reservations purchased June 1, in addition to the fare purchased, Southwest Airlines will charge a $25 each way ($50 roundtrip) service charge per child traveling as a UM on or after June 17, 2009.
These policies apply on Southwest Airlines only. Other airlines may have different policies and procedures.
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Old 09-26-2009, 03:01 PM
 
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Usually airline tickets for unaccompanied children are full fare. Again, I think you need to check directly with specific airlines about their current policies for flying unaccompanied minors.
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Old 09-26-2009, 03:11 PM
 
Location: San Marcos, CA
124 posts, read 424,671 times
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As mentioned above, on most airlines a 14 year old will travel as an adult as the cut off age to be classified as an unaccompanied minor is usually 12. However that is not always the case and you must check with the individual airline you're booking with for their particular rules.

You can use travelocity to look up fares for an adult ticket to see what is available and then check with that airline on their policies and since Travelocity won't let you book for under-aged travelers flying alone, you'll need a different ticketing source, probably the airline itself.

My kids have been travelling unaccompanied since the oldest two were 5 and 7, (16 and 18 now.) I still follow a lot of the same guidelines when booking even though the younger is technically an "adult" to the airlines. My 18 year old only recently turned 18 so hasn't flown as a legal adult yet.

1. Direct or non-stop flights only, non-stop is highly preferred.
2. I always ask for a gate pass when they're leaving so that I can take them to the gate and wait with them until they board. Otherwise I worry that they'll put on their headphones and not hear their flight announcements.
3. You can get gate passes to meet them at their destination as well, I don't usually do that anymore with the teens, though I would if he/she was inexperienced traveler.
4. Always give them some money to purchase food and drinks, as well as making sure you pack a lunch/dinner for their flight. Just in case there's an emergency and the plane is rerouted and delayed, they'll have something to use if necessary.
5. Make sure they have contact information for people on both sides of the flight, not just the person who is supposed to pick them up but an alternate as well.
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Old 09-26-2009, 07:29 PM
 
86 posts, read 186,778 times
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Thank you all for the help. She has never flown alone, so you can imagine I am quite nervous. It sounds like if we do all of our homework, things should be fine. I will look into the individual airlines.
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Old 09-26-2009, 08:22 PM
 
14,253 posts, read 23,969,886 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsgke View Post
Thank you all for the help. She has never flown alone, so you can imagine I am quite nervous. It sounds like if we do all of our homework, things should be fine. I will look into the individual airlines.
Here is what you do irregardless of the airline.

When you arrive at the airport, head to the ticket counter and request a pass so that you can accompany your daughter to the gate. The airlines will be happy to do that. You will be able to go all the way to the gate with her and wait until the flight leaves.

I would have the person at the other end do exactly the same. If it was my daughter, I would request that whomever is meeting her would be at the destination airport BEFORE the flight leaves. They should also request a pass so that they can meet her at the gate. This is done all the time with minors. The airline gives them a pass to get to the gate.

If you follow this procedure, your daughter will only be alone while on the plane. What I would also do is let one of the flight attendants know that your daughter is alone. Usually they will make every effort to make her comfortable.

Unfortunately, I see a LOT of children, many MUCH younger than your daughter. shuffled between parents in different cities. It is almost scary to see seven year olds fly alone.
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Old 09-27-2009, 03:23 AM
 
Location: where the moss is taking over the villages
2,178 posts, read 4,843,755 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsgke View Post
My 14-yr-old would like to travel "home" for the holiday break. I looked on Travelocity to see how the rates are. I was unable to get much info, because it said children under 18 need to be accompanied by an adult. I am wondering if anyone ever had a child fly alone, and if so, do I have to buy a plane ticket at a travel agency? I am not sure how else to go about this.
You pay for an escort into the plane because a family member can't go past the ticket taker and then turn around ... that's what I did, years ago.

I think I just called the airline direct & talked to an agent on the phone. Not sure if it can be done online. I wasn't a computer nut in the 90's like I am now. I have never ever used a travel agency. I've always called airlines myself or booked online.

Maybe you can use your search engine to see what's "out there"... Or call the number for Travelocity???

K.
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Old 09-27-2009, 06:18 AM
 
32,055 posts, read 32,950,797 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlawrence01 View Post
If you follow this procedure, your daughter will only be alone while on the plane. What I would also do is let one of the flight attendants know that your daughter is alone. Usually they will make every effort to make her comfortable.
I flew as an unaccompanied minor as a child (starting at age 5 the first time). So I know personally that on the airplane unaccompanied children are looked after by the flight attendants. They will also make sure the child will not leave the aircraft alone at the end of flight and make sure the child is met by the right adult at the final destination (meaning they won't leave a child unsupervised upon the flight's arrival at the destination airport).
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Old 09-27-2009, 10:11 AM
 
11,922 posts, read 21,503,013 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chava61 View Post
I flew as an unaccompanied minor as a child (starting at age 5 the first time). So I know personally that on the airplane unaccompanied children are looked after by the flight attendants. They will also make sure the child will not leave the aircraft alone at the end of flight and make sure the child is met by the right adult at the final destination (meaning they won't leave a child unsupervised upon the flight's arrival at the destination airport).
This still happens today exactly as described, at least on US Air.
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:00 AM
 
14,253 posts, read 23,969,886 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chava61 View Post
I flew as an unaccompanied minor as a child (starting at age 5 the first time). So I know personally that on the airplane unaccompanied children are looked after by the flight attendants. They will also make sure the child will not leave the aircraft alone at the end of flight and make sure the child is met by the right adult at the final destination (meaning they won't leave a child unsupervised upon the flight's arrival at the destination airport).
That is for kids that are of a certain age and who are PAYING more for that service. At 13 or so (depending on the airline), you travel by yourself without the escort.

There is no way in H*** that I would allow a child under eight travel alone on an airliner.
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