May 09, 2007,
K. asks from Matthews, NC on April 26, 2007
A.D. answers from Sumter on April 28, 2007
My 9yr old niece flies every summer by herself. She loves it and there have never been any problems. When they fly by themselves it has to be a direct flight and the flight attendents watch over them. I hope this helps.
D.D. answers from Spartanburg on April 28, 2007
K., my daughter has been doing the solo flight since she was 5 (she is 11 now). She loves it. We walk her to the gate and my parents are at the gate when she lands. If you use AirTran, it's a $50.00 fee you pay at the time you purchase the ticket, with Delta - it's a $50.00 fee you pay at the ticket counter EACH WAY. It really depends on the child. My 6yr old son does not like to fly at all. I use AirTran more often, and they are wonderful.
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K.S. answers from Raleigh on April 29, 2007
My daughter is now 9 and has been flying alone since she was 6.She has more frequent flyer miles them me! There are rules and they vary from type of flight to airline.
First everyone except Southwest charges an unaccompanied minor fee. The fee is different based on the airline and runs from $25 (jet blue) to $100 (american). Children under the age of 12 can only flight on direct or non-stop flights. Every airline requires you to fill out forms indicating who is picking up the child on the other end. You can only list one person and that person will be the only one allowed to pick up your child. The same thing happens in reverse when your child is on their way home. They will either be allowed to come up to the gate or will have to wait in baggage claim till the gate agent brings your child to them. This is a TSA/airport rule, so where you fly determines it. when you are dropping then off you must take then all the way to the gate and stay till the plane takes off. The flight attendant or gate agent will take your child down the ramp and seat them on the plane. Some airlines board the children first (southwest) others board them last (jetblue) they also attempt to put your child in the first row.
As for your child make sure they have something to keep them occupied during the flight. Their carry-on should have books, games, music, whatever your child needs to stat calm and quiet during a flight. As a mom you will be more worried then your child and that's ok. You also have a good chance of seeing another parent dropping off their child. My daughter fly up to New York 4-6 times a year and i a first time traveler at least twice.
J.R. answers from Norfolk on April 28, 2007
My son has flown unaccompanied since he was 9 y/o. He is now 16. Most airlines usually have a fee. The person picking up the child on the other end MUST have photo ID before the flight attendant turns the child over to him/her. My son's dad called the minute he signed the authorization forms for him.
Just make sure your child has some things to keep him busy.
G.S. answers from Fayetteville on April 27, 2007
Hello K.! I ,ust say that my two oldest children have been flying since they were 8 & 4. From NC to NY and vice versa. Yes there is an extra fee. You do take the child all the way to the gate and you must fill out some forms. Basically on who is picking them up at the other end. The person picking them up must have a valid ID etc... if not they will return ur child back to you. In any event my two especially my oldest who is now 15 are use to it. It must be on a direct flight. Never book a flight that makes any type of stops. There is a differance is price on the fees depending on the airline. if that's not a whole big issue it's usually about $50.00 each way. However it does not need to be paid until you arrive at the airport with the child and the child is about to separt. Same when she returns. It doesn't have to be paid until she's about to return. The only catch is that you can not purchase unaccompanied minor flights on-line. You will have to call the airline of your choice. I always used DELTA & US AIRWAYS but they are always running late & customer service sucks!! So ever since Jet BLUE has been around i have tried to use them. They are brand new planes & their are very comfy for the kids. They also get to watch TV even on a short domestic flight. I think you have to pay about 1-3 bucks more. I hope this has been helpful, please e-mail me if u have any more questions. I hope I've been able to help.
S.J. answers from Charlotte on April 27, 2007
I know there are restrictions. I think it used to be that they could fly alone from the age of 5 on up, but I think they changed it to 9. Each child is different, if you think your child has flown enough not to be scared and can be pretty self sufficient during the flight, it's probably OK.
The flight attendant isn't really personally responsible for the child. They just help them to their seat and then keep them on the plane until everyone else is off, if my memory is correct. If the child has to change planes, they turn them over to someone else at the gate that takes them to their next gate. It's been a few years since I looked into this, so I could be a little off.
A.C. answers from Norfolk on April 27, 2007
Hi K. my stepdaughter flsy up to visit us from florida every Cristmas and summer break since the age of 11 and she does fine. They take very good care of children on flights alone but they usually only allow them to fly on direct flights and one adult is allowed to met them at the gate when they get to their destination and they must show some form of ID
S.P. answers from Jacksonville on April 28, 2007
Hi K.. It is my stepson that flies by himself. He has been doing it for I think three years now. He is 10 now. We use Southwest Air and there is no fee. YOu can't order online though. Have to order over the phone and tell them it is an unaccompanied minor. However, they will not switch planes. It has to be a direct flight or one that doesn't swith planes. Nathan flies from Nashville to Raleigh/Durham. Even with the 2 hour drive to Raleigh from Jacksonville, it is well worth it. Anythign beats the 12 hour one way trip to Nashville to pick him up driving. Flying it is an hour and half then the two hour drive home. He loves it. Like the others, one parent goes with them to the gate and waits until it takes off. They are boarded first and get "front row" seats. Then whoever is picking them up waits by the gate for them. They check ID and all of that before they release them.
Nathan usually tells us about the other kids he has met as soon as he gets off the plane. Only one time (out of 5-6 times a year) has he ever been the only one. Hope this helps.
R.W. answers from Norfolk on April 27, 2007
I have a 12 yr old daughter and last summer she flew by herself from VA to FL. We walked her to the gate and her grandparents picked her up on the other end at the gate. You do pay an extra fee but the flight attendents kept and eye on her.
But I would definitely only do it if it was a direct flight. The changing planes would make me too worried.