Many of you remember the stories of unaccompanied minors
diverted to the
wrong airports last summer. The first incident involved an
who was supposed to be on a flight from Los Angeles to Detroit
but wound up
in Orlando, Florida. We have the story of two sisters ages
11 and 8 on a
flight from Texas to California. The girls made it to California
unfortunately they landed in Ontario when they should have
been on a flight
to Lindbergh Field in San Diego. The airlines have since clamped
their procedures for unaccompanied minors after the rash of
Since September 11, many of the airlines have gone even further
when it comes
to protecting and accounting for children traveling alone.
Given the choice
between accompanied and unaccompanied most of you would choose
to fly with
your children, especially during the busy holiday travel season.
But if you must send your children alone heres what
you should expect when
dealing with the airlines. The policies referred to below
are for Alaska
Airlines and Horizon Air only. Please call the carrier of
your choice for
their guidelines and procedures. First the age restrictions:
*Children ages 5 12 are considered unaccompanied minors
unless they travel
with an adult 18 or over. Children are still considered unaccompanied
they travel with another child age 13 17.
*Children ages 0 4 are not allowed under any circumstances
to fly alone.
*Children ages 5 7 are permitted to fly unaccompanied
on nonstop and direct
*Children ages 8 12 are permitted on nonstop, direct
and connecting flights.
*Children ages 13 - 17 are permitted on nonstop, direct and
flights. Children in this age group can travel under the rules
unaccompanied minor or on their own at the discretion of a
parent or guardian.
Regardless of your childs age, parent and guardian
information will be
required at time of booking and again during check-in.
Alaska and Horizon Airlines charge a service fee of $30 one-way
when a minor
between the ages 5 and 12 travels alone. The fee applies to
and international flights. When travel involves a connecting
flight, for ch
ildren age 8 and over, the fee is $60 one-way. The service
fee will be
collected in each direction. You can send up to three children
the same fee provided they go to the same destination and
are met by the same
adult upon completion of their trip.
Many airlines have flight restriction times in place. On
Alaska and Horizon,
unaccompanied minors between the ages of 5 and13 will not
be allowed to
travel on flights that depart between 9pm and 5am or on connections
last flight of the day out of any city. Teenagers 13 to 17
have no flight
time restrictions unless accompanied minor service has been
Reservations for minor children must be done through an airline
or a travel agent. You are not allowed to book minor travel
making reservations with Alaska or Horizon be prepared to
give the following
information: Childs name and age, your name and relationship
to the child,
name and relationship of the person bringing your child to
the airport and
the person picking your child up once they arrive at their
will also be asked to provide all primary phone numbers for
involved in picking up and dropping off your children. Please
make sure you
include cell phone numbers, pagers, home and business phone
you arrive at the airport you will be asked to complete an
Most air carriers and airport authorities will allow unticketed
guardians to escort their minor children to the gate past
checkpoints, but the policies vary, so again please call ahead.
and Horizon, only one guardian will be allowed through the
checkpoint with an unaccompanied minor. All guardians must
obtain a Security Service Pass at the ticket counter.
Most airlines have similar policies in place for unaccompanied
Please follow the recommended guidelines and double and triple
everything before sending your children on a plane alone.
As an added safety
measure make sure your children have on their person all the
information necessary to assist the airlines should they get
lost and if
possible have your children memorize certain pieces of information
home telephone number. Also train your children to look for
or airline personnel if trouble occurs or they get lost.