So…as you may know, Josh and I have never taken a trip without our kids. And our kids are now 10 and 12 years old. It’s time.
Really – it’s time. As in, now. 🙂 Our solo vacation to New Orleans is quickly coming up this month. Needless to say…yay! (And yikes!)
Our kids are thrilled, because while we’re in New Orleans, they’ll be in San Diego! We’re putting them on a plane to visit some of our best family friends. However, since we’ll be up in the air enjoying cocktails at the exact same time that they need to be boarding their own flight, it’s a little more complicated than just waving goodbye at the gate.
But it’s not difficult. It just requires a little coordination and some additional prep.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1. Each airline has slightly different rules.
Make sure to check the website of the airline your child will be flying to get specifics for your situation.
There are some handy links on this site.
2. Every airline charges extra for “Unaccompanied Minors.”
3. You (or someone else) can drop off/pick up your kids directly at the gate.
All you need to do is obtain an escort pass from the ticket counter so that you can escort your kid to/from the gate.
4. If you’ve got an older child and a younger child, you can sometimes avoid fees altogether.
In our case, our daughter is 12 and our son is 10. This means that our daughter is able to fly on Southwest as a “Young Traveler” (which, according to Southwest, means kids age 12-17). This means she can and be (gulp!) for our son, therefore creating a situation where our son is no longer considered to be an “Unaccompanied Minor.”
5. Call the airline.
Definitely call the airline to confirm all of the above and possibly help with booking. I started by booking my daughter’s flight online, then called in to book my son’s flight. That way, the agent was able to see the flight and all the details, but help me with all of the finer points of booking a tricky ticket.
6. Be prepared. Just in case.
We are planning to give each our kids a one-sheet with all of the info they might need (name and contact info of the friends who are picking them up, instructions on what to do in case something goes awry, etc.). We’re also sending them with a little cash and a $25 Visa gift card in case they need to make a purchase. Because ya never know.