It may seem a like an enormous step, allowing your children to fly alone internationally, but for many expat families it is an important and early milestone. These days, there are some great support systems for kids flying along. I travelled without my parents for the first time at age 14 and remember it well. When is it OK to allow your kids to fly alone and how can you do it?
1) Listen to your child – There is no perfect age to allow your child to fly alone. The age depends a lot on your child’s maturity and their comfort level. Some children really do not look forward to flying alone, while others think the prospect is exciting. Even if you think your child is ready, they aren’t until they think they are ready.
2) Trust your airline – Make sure you let your kid fly with an airlines that you are familiar with and that you trust. This is not a time to start worrying about pinching pennies. If you cannot afford to pay more for quality service for your child than you need to delay the trip. If you are uncertain about the quality of the airline service for unaccompanied children, ask around in expat communities.
3) Guarantee pick up – You want to make sure there is someone waiting to get your children that they know and trust. You don’t want them to land and feel like know one they know is there. They need that familiar face after a long and lonely journey.
4) Go as directly as possible – You want to keep your child’s trip as short as possible. Long layovers give them a chance to get lost, bored and distracted. Try to book a direct flight or one with as few layovers as possible. Again, it will cost more, but is worth every penny.
5) Pack presents – This may be something you are used to doing for your little ones, but make sure you pack a few little surprises and things to keep your big kids busy. This may be downloading a few fun movies on their iPads, or sneaking a new Nintendo DNS game into their bag. If they are readers, grab the next book in their favorite series. They will love it and will think plenty of positive thoughts for their trip.
Anyway, it always depends on the parents criteria. Do it as well as you think it has to be done.