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Minor child traveling alone

bruwery

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My family and I are going to Orlando in three weeks. We've unexpectedly found ourselves in a position where we are able to take our 12 year old niece with us; however, we can't get her on our flight.

Long story short, she'd be flying alone. She claims to be unafraid, but I'm not comfortable having her navigate her way through security and find her departure gate by herself - especially due to the fact that she's never flown before.

In these days of heightened security, how does one typically arrange for an adult to be able to escort her to her departure gate?

Do I contact TSA, or the airline, or is this something that's not possible?
 

Dave M

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When an adult takes her to the airport, the adult will ask for a security pass at the check-in counter. That pass allows the adult to accompany the minor to the gate. Similarly, at the arrival end of the trip, the adult who will meet the minor should go to the check-in counter and ask for a pass to get to the gate to meet the minor. The airline will normally hold the minor at the arriving gate until picked up by the meeting adult.

Each airline has a form that the first adult must complete at check-in. That form will accompany the minor (but will be kept by a flight attendant). At the other end, the adult picking up the minor will have to show I.D. that matches the info on that paperwork.

To make sure things go smoothly, the two adults should communicate with each other during the trip via cell phone regarding departure, arrival, etc. If practical, the minor should have a cell phone to communicate with one of those two adults in case anything goes wrong.

Forget about asking for a pass for the whole family to meet the minor. It (normally) won't be permitted!
 

Nobylspoon

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The airline can provide an escort to make sure they get through the process and on the plane safely. Southwest is really good about this but all airlines should be able to help you.

TSA wont be much help for you.

Just find the customer relations number for your airline and talk to them or check their website because they may already have the info in an FAQ for you.
 

neash

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All airlines allow minors to travel alone under the un-accompanied minor program.
You will have to pay the airline a fee, they will supervise her from the time you drop her off at the airport to the time someone picks her up.
My daughter who is now 15, has been traveling by herself since she was 10 years old on long trans-atlantic flights.
Contact your airline, and they will be able to give you all the details.
neash
 

Luanne

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Depending on the airline at age 12 your niece may have no choice but to fly as an unaccompanied minor. You'll need to check with the airline. Also, in most cases there is an additional fee to fly this way. Dave has explained the airport process very well.
 

nfwjlw

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southwest air has no extra fees

we used them with no problems
jerry
 

Luanne

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we used them with no problems
jerry
Right, Southwest doesn't and they are probably one of the best when dealing with unaccompanied minors. But other airlines, Delta and United come to mind, do.
 

bruwery

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Excellent information. It sounds easy enough. Thanks everybody for your input!!
 

laura1957

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My stepgrands have been flying back and forth between Orlando and Va for awhile now by themselves. They just turned 11 and 12 this summer. The airline have always taken extremely good care of them. I believe my SIL paid $50. for the fee this past year - not sure which airline it was. This has been there first time flying from Va to Kentucky.
 

SuzanneSLO

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If the airline does charge a fee, you shoud compare that fee (which could be as high as $200 RT) with the cost of changing another adult traveler's flight so that your neice will not have to fly alone. If the cost of changing one ticket is the same or even less, this may give you all more peace of mind. -- Suzanne
 

Nancy

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Southwest

My grandkids have been doing this for a few years. They are now 11 and 9, but were much younger when they started. They could do Southwest and one other airline, nonstop. We chose Southwest because there was no extra fee. No problems. In fact last summer, our 11 year old ended up taking care of a handicapped child flying alone and the stewardress was very complimentary about that. (Of course, she is oldest of 4, so used to being a little mother to younger kids).

Remember you need nonstop. Also a 12 year old may not be eligible to be considered an unaccompanied minor. Check each airline you might use.

Nancy
 

Bill4728

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Have you ask the airline if you could trade your ticket with her ticket??

You or your wife could flight alone and your niece could fly with the rest of the family.
 

janapur

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Excellent info here. I will just add that on the two occasions when my oldest flew alone (also to meet us in Orlando) he was treated like a prince. The flight crew pampered him and even put him in frist class on one flight. Your niece will be well looked after.
 

Icarus

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My family and I are going to Orlando in three weeks. We've unexpectedly found ourselves in a position where we are able to take our 12 year old niece with us; however, we can't get her on our flight.
I would try calling the airline and see if they can open another seat for you on your flights given the circumstances. You didn't say why you can't get her on your flight, so I'm assuming that it's sold out?

Failing that, I would ask them to allow you to change one of the adults tickets so somebody is flying with her. I don't know if they will be willing to waive the change fee, but it's worth asking for under the circumstances. (I wouldn't expect them to do it, but I would ask nicely.)

Depending on the airline, the unaccompanied minor fee can get expensive, especially if there's a stop and change of flights en-route. Some charge extra per-stop. And that's just an open invitation for something to go wrong, IMO.

-David
 

bruwery

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I would try calling the airline and see if they can open another seat for you on your flights given the circumstances. You didn't say why you can't get her on your flight, so I'm assuming that it's sold out?

Failing that, I would ask them to allow you to change one of the adults tickets so somebody is flying with her. I don't know if they will be willing to waive the change fee, but it's worth asking for under the circumstances. (I wouldn't expect them to do it, but I would ask nicely.)

Depending on the airline, the unaccompanied minor fee can get expensive, especially if there's a stop and change of flights en-route. Some charge extra per-stop. And that's just an open invitation for something to go wrong, IMO.

-David
The reason I couldn't get her on our flight is that the airline currently wants $1,850 for our particular itinerary. :eek: That's a bit much when most airlines are presently offering Orlando fares ranging from $240 to $400.

Ultimately, I was going to change one of the adult tickets (The $100 change fee more or less mitigates the minor child service charge), but my father-in-law has decided to go as well, so I put him on a flight with my niece.

Thanks for all the input!!
 

Icarus

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Ultimately, I was going to change one of the adult tickets (The $100 change fee more or less mitigates the minor child service charge), but my father-in-law has decided to go as well, so I put him on a flight with my niece.
Perfect. :)

-David
 
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