Today, more than ever, children are flying without their parents. It’s safe, largely hassle-free and quite exciting for them.
But the world of airport terminals and baggage claims can get a bit overwhelming, especially for a kid whose flying alone.
Children who fly alone are referred to as Unaccompanied Minors (UM’s), and every airline has different requirements and regulations for children traveling without an adult.
But before we get into these rules, let us give you some handy tips that will help your child prepare for their first memorable solo airplane ride.
1. Prepare Your Kid For Flying
Before your child goes on their first airplane ride alone, fly with them and let them sit away from you to see how they manage.
Tell them how to find seat numbers, discuss who they can talk to if there are any issues while flying, and what to do when an airplane lands.
Also, make it a point to discuss in-flight etiquettes with your kids.
In case you don’t get the chance to travel with them before their solo journey, you can always take them to the airport a few days in advance, show them around & if possible, make them meet the airline staff.
2. Pack Efficiently
Pack your child’s luggage as smartly as possible, keeping it light but including everything that is necessary.
Make sure your child will have plenty to do on the flight. Pack their carry-on bag with a few snacks, medicine kit, their favourite toys, electronic devices like tablets, puzzles, colouring books, headphones and emergency cash.
Also, teach them how to use the cell phone, at least enough for them to be able to call the person picking them up when they land or in case of emergency.
3. Book A Direct Flight
While choosing the airline, opt for a direct flight so that your child doesn’t have to deal with the hassle of connections.
If possible, try and choose one of the first few flights in the day, as later ones have a greater chance of being delayed.
4. Prepare An Information Card
Prepare a card with all the relevant information about your child. This should include their name, age, address, flight number and destination.
Include the name, contact details and if possible, the photograph of the person who will be picking your child up at the other end, as well as any emergency contact details. Do not forget to mention any medical conditions or allergies that your child might have.
5. Arrive Early To The Airport
On the day of travel, make sure you reach 2 hours before the flight’s scheduled departure time so that you can make the necessary arrangements to accompany them to the gate.
You will have to get a Guest Pass and fill out an ‘Unaccompanied Minors’ form. Also, introduce them to the airline crew and the gate staff.
Make sure that your child can identify the uniform colour and the people they can reach out to.
Communicate with the person who is picking your child up, letting them know when the flight takes off, and if there is any delay.
Most airlines require parents to stay at the airport until the flight takes off so that if there’s a problem, the child can be returned.
Now that you know how to prepare your child and yourself for their first solo flight, let us tell you which airlines, that fly in India, allow UM’s and the rules regarding it.
In India, rules for unaccompanied minors are almost similar across all airlines except the age limit.
Here is the list of airlines that allow UM and their age limit-
- GoAir – Ages 5 to 18
- Jet Airways – Ages 5 to 12 (Domestic Flight) & Ages 6 to 12 (International Flight)
- SpiceJet – Ages 5 To 12
- IndiGo – Ages 5 to 12
- Air India – Ages 5 To 12(Domestic Flight) & Ages 5 To 16( International Flight)
- Vistara – Ages 5 To 12
The flight crew from the above-mentioned airlines accompany your child every step of the way, from boarding the flight to claiming baggage and making sure they reach the person picking them up.
Airlines that allow unaccompanied minor travel require parents or guardians to fill up an indemnity form with details of the minor, person seeing off at departure and person meeting on arrival.
Also, some airlines such as Jet Airways do not permit online booking for unaccompanied minors; the ticket has to be booked at reservation or ticketing offices.
1.Lufthansa (Age Limit – 5 to 11)
The German airline has special check-in counters and supervision rooms with movies, toys and games, at many airports across the globe.
Children are given a yellow pouch, to be worn around the neck at all times, containing their travel documents.
On board, they are seated near the crew and given toys and colouring books. There is a special in-flight entertainment system and a children’s menu.
2.Air France (Age limit – 5 to 14)
This airline gives unaccompanied minors priority boarding. Once on board, they are given games, films, cartoons, radio programs, gifts to play with and a children’s meal.
In case of a delay, a staff member will be with the child throughout, even if they have to stay at a hotel overnight.
3.Singapore Airlines (Age Limit – 5 to 12)
The airline takes its unaccompanied minor travel so seriously, that they change all aspects related to children’s travel every quarter.
These rules vary across domestic and international flights so that children travelling frequently get a variety.
They provide your child with water bottles, toys to play with and souvenirs to take home.
4.Emirates (Age Limit – 5 to 12)
They require you to inform them in advance about your child’s seating and food preferences so that they can arrange it accordingly.
If your child is travelling on their birthday, they will have a cake waiting for them on board. There is a special in-flight entertainment for children.
5.Etihad Airways (Age Limit – 5 to 12)
The luxury airline has a dedicated childcare crew member called the Flying Nanny on long-haul flights.
Identified by their orange aprons, they are trained in child psychology and well-equipped with supplies for arts and crafts, magic tricks and quizzes.
If you want to share your child’s flight information with your family or friends, look no further. Simply download the AirWhizz App and share the details on the click of a button. You will also get real-time flight updates and all the airline/airport information you need on the move.