Every once in a while I get a question on ticketing flights for a youth to travel alone. Usually because two parents live in different states or countries. So I thought I'd write a few tidbits to help parents in selecting flights for and preparing for youth travel.
It's a great idea to hire a travel advisor or travel agent (please see Difference between Travel Agents and Travel Advisor blog I wrote here) to help in this planning. I won't go into a spiel boring you with the whys and hows of getting one. I'm sure we all get sick of being told this from time to time. I think this article is going to speak for itself. I'll just simply say: DO IT. But not without preparing before you do... Here's a bulleted list...
- Set your Parameters for the Flight
- Parameter 1: Date and Times
So folks.... know your dates. Know your youth's limits. Only you know your child best.
About times...Well, here's a juicy tidbit I can offer. Pick the first flight of the day. I know most of you are going to say - but that's just too early. The likelihood of a flight being cancelled or delayed is less if you select the earliest flight of the day. Unless of course there's a huge snowstorm overnight. At least you'll be aware of it. And have plenty of time to plan out the rest of the day or make adjustment accordingly. There are other reasons for selecting the earliest flight and I won't go into that here. The list is loonnnnngggg. Just trust me on this one....
- Parameter 2: Connecting, Direct flights or Non Stop flights?
So what's the difference you ask? Connecting flights will have your child landing, changing planes and taking off again. Direct flights will have your youth landing, not changing planes, and taking off again. Non Stop will have you mid-air the entire flight. So what's best? I suppose that depends on you as a parent but my guidance : Select the least taxing for the child. You will pay an accompanied minor fee on top of the flight cost itself based on the age of the child but that fee doesn't guarantee you a "babysitter" at all times. Thus, why we have tips and tricks! Each airline has their own set rules and for a child to fly solo one of those rules might be for a child above age 5 and above. Each airline is different. Yeah it's a lot of research for the parent. Does your travel agent know and understand the rules? You bet your sweet buppies they should! And if not, they should know where to find and how to read them! But basically yeah... select the least taxing for the kid. You will most likely pay the least for connecting flights. And so on and so on. Are non-stop flights worth the price? Definitely!
- Parameter 3: Flight Times - do they matter?
- Airline Policies - the 4 core:
- Flight costs
So many parameters are taken into account for this! Please read Tips and Tricks for purchasing a cheap flight on my blog. However, with that said there will be additional costs to consider. If your youth is within a certain age you would be required to pay the unaccompanied minor charge ON TOP OF the flight price itself. Then if you select to use a travel agent/travel advisor you may be asked to pay additional small fees on top of that. Be prepared to pay the price for unaccompanied youth travel. It will be well worth the money. It's called VALUE over CHEAP for a reason. And value is not always cheap but you have to know what you're getting for the cost you're paying. You can be expected to pay anywhere from $50 upwards to $150 or more for the unaccompanied minor fee. You can be expected to pay a small to large fee for the travel agent/advisor because airlines just do not pay any commissions to them. Not to be crass or anything but -Would you work your everyday job for free? I think not. Being a travel advisor/agent that works full time to pay their bills is no different. Just because we are travel advisors does not mean we fly for free. The rules my friends have changed from eons ago!
- Sharing Flight Details
- Tips for Parents - Preparing your Child for the Flight!
- Necessary documentation
- Security and Child Escort
- Is there help for the Child?
- Dress and Pack for Comfort