Parents and guardians are always faced with the challenge of sending their young family members between the ages of 5 and 15 years on a trip all alone. The airline travel industry has come up with a policy to take care of this challenge. Passengers at of 5 to 11years (before their 12th birthday) are considered as children while passengers at the ages of 12 to 15 years are called young adult passengers. These categories of passengers when traveling without their parents or guardian are called Unaccompanied minor.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child defines unaccompanied minors and unaccompanied children as those who have been separated from both parents and other relatives and are not being cared for by an adult who by law or custom is responsible for doing so.
In the travel industries, airlines offer the service of unaccompanied minor although airline regulations vary. Here are advise for any parent or guardian who intends to send their child unaccompanied on a confirmed airline ticket:
Parents and guardians are advised to buy tickets for the unaccompanied minor according to the airline (most airlines will advise adult ticket)
The unaccompanied minor must be present at the airport with parents or guardian early enough before flight time.
The parent or guardian is to request for the service of an unaccompanied minor at the airline check-in counter, fill up the form and identify the parent or guardian to pick the minor at the destination airport.
Photo credit: airline services
The unaccompanied minor is advised to carry at all times his or her travel document like passport and tickets. Any required medication that he or she can administer to him or herself.
The parent or guardian that escorted the minor to the airport is advised to stay behind until the aircraft departs.
The unaccompanied minor should be able to communicate with the parents or guardian picking him or her at the destination airport through a mobile device, the mobile device must be fully charged, have call units and should be roamed.
The unaccompanied minor is being assisted by airline staff through immigration, customs check and given priority treatment during boarding flight.
During the flight, the unaccompanied minor is being checked on by cabin crew depending on airline policy.
Photo credit: Emirates
On arrival, the unaccompanied minor is moved to the nearest exit to enable the minor to leave the aircraft.
The unaccompanied minor is handed over to airline ground staff, which will assist in baggage claim, immigration and customs check and a proper hand over to the adult identified on the form.
I hope this advice will give you the confidence and take away the fear of having your child travel as an unaccompanied minor. Kids at the ages of 5 and 8 years can travel on a direct flight and the ages of 8 to 15 years can travel on a connecting flight. Most airlines have canceled the unaccompanied minor service, it is best you ask for airlines that will offer the service on your intended travel route.
Until next time – eat, sleep, travel!
Hasta La Vista,