What to Know When a Minor Child Must Fly to Visit Parents in Different States During COVID
Life must go on even during the current COVID pandemic. This life includes the timesharing orders between parents of minor children. When it is nice if both parents live in the same geographical area, it today’s transient society, it often happens that parents live miles and sometimes states apart. As most parental timesharing plans include instructions on allowing minor children to visit, even when many miles separate them, it is important to understand how a minor child can fly between parents. If a minor child needs to fly without an accompanying adult, the child is considered an unaccompanied minor, and airlines have certain restrictions and arrangements in place. Each airline has its own set of rules, age restrictions, and fees, and it is wise to check each airline’s website for all the details. There are also listings on Google that compare each airline’s requirements, fees, and recommendations for flying unaccompanied minors. Too, the COVID pandemic has made some changes for most airlines, including eliminating or drastically cutting back on international travel. Also, masks must be worn in the airport and on the entire flight, and social distancing followed.
Looking at the rules of airline travel of unaccompanied minors in general, there are several suggestions that apply to all airlines. These include:
- Have proper identification for the child and the authorized person meeting the arriving child.
- Adult sending children must have a gate pass to take the child to the departing gate. The child will board early, but the adult must wait in the departing gate area until the plane has left the ground.
- Call the receiving adult that the child is in the air.
- The adult meeting the child must be on time and have a valid gate pass and ID.
- As food is no longer available, it is wise to pack snacks or light lunch if the flight is long. Bottled and canned drinks are still available.
- No medication can be held or given during the flight.
- Instruct children on wearing face masks at all times and being aware of social distancing.
- Pack some age-appropriate books and games and, when possible, an iPad or tablet. Be sure electronics are charged as some airlines do not have on-board charging capabilities. Headsets or other listening devices are a good idea.
- If the flight will be long, a small pillow and light blanket is a good idea.
- Have the child bring a light jacket or sweater as planes are often cold
- Know the rules for connecting flights, delays, and cancelations for your chosen airline and help the child to understand these rules as best their age allows.
- Make sure written itinerary information, some form of ID, and contact information are in the child’s on-flight carry-on, and the child knows where it is.
- Realize a flight attendant cannot be with the child at all times, so be sure the child knows he or she can use the call button to get help. An attendant will check on the child frequently during the flight.
- Make sure the child understands not to leave the plane until an attendant is with them to make connections or meet the adult at arrival.
Taking advantage of having minor children being able to fly unaccompanied is great when it comes to working out parental timesharing agreements. Just be sure to understand the requirements of the airline you choose and help your child plan and understand with you. Always arrive early, have necessary forms filled out, and proper identification easily presentable as you may be asked for it at several points.