These questions plague your mind, and the answers are equally subjective. Even your six-year-old can travel by flight provided they are mentally and emotionally prepared for the trip.
Minors between the ages of 5 and 17 are allowed to travel unaccompanied. Those between five and eleven can get assistance from airline personnel. At an extra $100 or $150, they will be accompanied by a crew member from the boarding gate, flight, journey, and till the adult at the destination can receive them.
BOOK THE FLIGHT
The flight you book should allow minors to travel unaccompanied and also provide them with assistance during transit. The flight timings should be such that your child doesn’t end up stuck at the airport overnight because of a layover. Connecting flights are also uncertain, especially if they get delayed because that’s more time they spend alone.
APPROPRIATE DOCUMENTATION WITH SIGNED PERMISSION
Your unaccompanied minor will need proper and valid documentation to make the process seamless.
They should carry a valid passport and their birth certificate. If other adults are accompanying them, your child needs to have a signed permission document. This is necessary, especially if parents are divorced. A notarized document needs to be signed by both parents and shown at the security if one of them is accompanying the minor.
Thorough research on which airlines permit unaccompanied minor to travel with them is necessary. Along with flight timings, charges, and documentation.
KEEP THEM INFORMED
Speak to them as much as possible before, during, and after the trip. Try to explain the process to them and keep them prepared for any situation that may arise.
SAFETY IS IMPORTANT
Identification documents need to be kept in a safe place. They would only need them at security. They should also be alert and aware of their surroundings.
As long as they have an adult accompanying them till the boarding gate, on the flight, and then at the exit, they will be fine.
HAVE AN ADULT MEET THEM
If they are visiting their grandparents or other relatives, they should receive your child at the exit. This way, you can be sure they reach family safely.
PHOTO OF PERSON THEY ARE MEETING
It is also advisable that you give them a picture of the person who will collect them at the airport.
So they have something to eat during the flight. It can be something healthy or just in case they don’t have anything to eat on the plane. This is doubly necessary if they need to wait somewhere and get hungry.
SOME FORM OF PAYMENT
They should only use them in case of emergencies. If they need accommodation overnight or need to book a flight.
In case they get sick, travel insurance would help your unaccompanied minor get treatment immediately.
These pointers will help you get through the planning phase of allowing your unaccompanied minor travel. You might still need to research the law and provisions made by different airlines to allow unaccompanied minors to travel with them. This information is available on their website directly. Once again, how old your child might be when you choose to let them travel really depends on how prepared they are for the experience mentally.