Well, it finally happened. My son wanted to go visit a family member at a time where I just couldn't make the trip. And when I say he wanted to go, I mean he realllyyy wanted to go and it was his absolute closest relative’s 13th birthday. So I decided to let him go alone. He flew from Charlotte to Baltimore all by himself. Here are some things to expect and some tips for you in case you’re ready for your little one to fly alone.
Unaccompanied minor fees. First off the airline will charge you a fee in addition to your ticket price for your minor traveling alone. This fee can range from $50.00-$150.00 each way. Note this fee is only required for minors under the age of 15 or for minors you would like to have an escort.
Leaving Home: Be sure to get to the airport nice and early. The process is much different for an unaccompanied minor. Instead of simply printing a boarding pass at the kiosk, you have to go to the customer service line. You will have to complete several forms and show identification. Depending on how long the line is, this could take a while. For me, it was almost an hour. You will get a gate pass so that you can bring your child to the gate and wait for him/her to get on the plane. Once you get through security, you will wait at the gate for your child’s escort. Your child will board first so get there early. Your approved adult must be waiting for your child when the plane lands.
Coming Home. Just like departing, your chosen guardian will need to escort your minor to the airport and through the security line. Leaving home, your child will get on the plane first. Coming home is the exact opposite. They will leave the plane last. And I mean your child and escort will be the absolute last ones off the plane. So don’t get nervous when you don’t see him or her immediately.
Non Technical Stuff: Now that we have gone over the technical, let's discuss the emotional. I was a wreck. I tried to hide it, but the idea of not having eyes on my child while he was up in the sky was unnerving and emotional.
And when I asked him before the flight, he told me he was nervous. Actually, he said he was very nervous. So nervous in fact, I asked him if he wanted to call the whole thing off. I gave him that choice. And I was going to respect his decision. I could see the wheels turning. He took a few seconds to consider. Then he looked at me and said, "no, I’ll be ok. I really want to go". So we did it. We faced our fears and I let my baby fly free.
When he returned, The flight attendant who escorted him couldn’t stop raving about him. How sweet he was, how easy going he was, and how much she wished all unaccompanied minors were like him. And maybe it’s all in my head, but he seemed to walk with more confidence. He looked a little older. A little bit taller maybe. And now he can’t wait to do it again.
But my pocketbook has said, we should wait a little while!