Flying with Relatives

Updated on June 19, 2017
B.E. asks from New York, NY
9 answers

My 10-year old son is going to be flying with my stepmother down to my father's house without me. I haven't checked with the airline yet but does anyone know if anything is needed like a letter from me OK-ing the trip since she is not the primary guardian? They share the same last name and my son will have his passport. Whenever I fly with him they never even ask for his ID but I don't want them to run into any snags at the airport.

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answers from Santa Barbara on

I would recommend a letter. You did not mention if he will be flying out of the country or if you are divorced. Those 2 things could need more attention.

I hope they have a wonderful. This is not uncommon, so it should not be much confusion to the airline.

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answers from Boston on

It's a good idea to have a travel letter. We sent one along with my in-laws when my kids were flying with them (they were 10 and 12). We didn't have it notarized or anything, and they didn't need to use it. It basically said that I gave my kids permission to travel with X & Y from City to City via plane on Date X and Date Y. It also gave them permission to seek emergency medical or dental treatment, listed my heath insurance info, the names and phone numbers of their doctor and dentist, contact info for me and their dad, and contact info for my parents in case neither of us could be reached in an emergency. We used a similar letter when my step-daughter used to fly with a friend, but I think we used to get those notarized because she wasn't with family, they had different last names, etc.

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answers from San Francisco on

We have travelled domestically and internationally with our grandchildren since they were 5 years old. Their parents always provide us with a "Consent for Travel" letter:

We (parents names) declare that we are the lawful Guardians of (child's name,sex,DOB).
Our child (child's name) have our consent to travel with their maternal grandparents (grandparents' names) to (destination) from (dates of travel). (Provide address where your child will be staying)
In the event that our child requires emergency medical treatment and we cannot be reached, (Name of person/s) are authorized to consent to medical treatment in our stead. Any questions regarding this document may be addressed to us at:
Names of parents, home address, work and cell phones of parents.
Parents' signatures and date.

When we travel internationally, the parents' signatures are notarized.
We have had to show this Consent for Travel a couple of times, but most of the time we breeze through with no questions asked. The medical authorization is really important and you need to provide your stepmother with a copy of your son's updated medical information ( pediatrician's name and phone number, allergies, shots).

Hope this helps.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

If this is an international trip, you absolutely need to send documentation. And it should be signed by both parents.

For domestic travel, I've never had anyone question my relationship to my son or stepson. But your stepmother doesn't have the legal right to seek medical care for your son, so I'd send a letter for that reason alone. You should be able to find a letter like JB describes online.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Just google this or better yet, call the airline.

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answers from Dallas on

I always give my mom a letter with all my kids medical information and insurance and authorisation to have them treated for any reason. They have never had to use it but it's good practice

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answers from New York on

Having a notarized letter wouldn't hurt - one that covers permission to travel and permission to seek medical care, but honestly a 10 yr old can nearly travel by himself (I think the cut off might be 11), so it is unlikely that it would need to be used. How would an agent even know if the lady was gramma, stepgramma, or even mom? They really aren't the "how are you related" police :) Plus, I think a 10 yr old would definitely speak up if something weird was going on like a gramma was taking him someplace she shouldn't.

I personally wouldn't bother, but if it makes you feel better, it doesn't hurt anything.

Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

You shouldn't need to have anything, but it wouldn't hurt to have one just in case. My dad takes my son on a trip every year so I always get a letter, but no one has ever asked for it (they usually fly to 3-5 different cities per trip). They don't have the same last name and don't even look like they could be related.

The letter simply authorizes my dad to take my son with him and gives him the authority to give consent in a medical emergency. I usually just find a template online. The UPS store will notarize for a low price (I think around $8 per signature - my husband and I both sign it).

I'm glad you posted this... their trip is coming soon and I had forgotten all about the letter.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I am a member of a grandparents raising grandchildren support group. One of the options one of our attorneys that sometimes come and give talks on our rights, is for a parent to give one of the grandparents the right to seek medical treatment and other specific things like enroll them in school, sigh them up for sports, and things like that. But it's through the court system and is signed by a judge and then the court clerk puts their seal on it.

In this instance the rights of the parents are intact but the grandparent is covered to manage the child's needs without the parent being there.

This is WHAT is important.

Even on field trips, in child care, at school...all those permission to treat notes are useless. Completely useless. The agency has the parents sign them to protect that agency. But in all reality I could sign a piece of paper with your name and say that your inlaw has the right to do anything. Even if it's notarized it's still useless, for the most part.

If your child needs to go to the ER or seek medical treatment what is going to happen is IF your child need emergency treatment the medical staff will decide what needs to be done and do it. They'll have their clerk call a judge and get a court order and just whatever they want. They won't accept a piece of paper that is not worth the cost of the piece of paper.

One of our attorneys told us that their committee had written a law that had just been voted in where the parents can go to the courthouse and get an order that specifically gives a certain person the legal right to represent you in the case of an emergency. This law does NOT give the specific person the right to do anything you don't specifically put in the order and you can specify that it is totally of your choice and can be terminated at any time but it should have an expiration date on it.

Something like this. But having it done through the court clerk they have absolute permission to do what you've said they can do. If you just send a piece of paper and your child needs medical treatment the docs will do what they want even if you are on the phone telling them no. They have NO idea if you are truly that child's parent or some neighbor to the grandparents that is making something up.

"I, my name here, give, their name here, permission to seek emergency medical attention for my child, child's name here, on their trip from, place goes here, to, place goes here, then back to my home by, last date of trip goes here.

I give this permission for, their name goes here, to also...whatever you think might come up.

This permission is for a limited time in regards to this specific trip. This order expires on, or before, month, day, year."

Next question: Legal Paperwork for Teenage Step-daughter to Travel with a Friend's Family?