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What to expect when your child flies solo

Perhaps it’s a trip to summer camp or to see relatives across the country. Regardless of why your child is flying solo, standard regulations are in place to ensure he or she will be safe on board and on arrival.

Unaccompanied minors generally are age 15 or younger, although you can request services for youth up to age 18.

Use this checklist when planning your child’s solo trip:

  • Call your preferred airline directly to book tickets. Explain you’ll be needing an unaccompanied minor fare and its associated services.
  • Depending on the airline, expect to pay an additional $25 to $99 for this service. Included is identification for your child, an escort between gates at connecting airports (if applicable), and drop-off with the properly identified contact at the arrival airport.
  • Provide the name, address, and home and business contact information for the person picking up your child at the destination airport. Let the contact know he will have to prove his identity before departing with the child.

Note that unaccompanied minors cannot typically fly on red-eye flights, connections to the last flight of the day, long-haul international flights, flights with overnight or long layovers, or those requiring a change of airport (e.g., Midway to O’Hare).

Additionally, it’s a good idea to give your child a phone card or cell phone, plus an emergency contact, in case something goes wrong. Policies vary between airlines, but you can find more detailed information by researching unaccompanied minor fares on your preferred carrier’s website.

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