Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
how a Southwest attendant attempted
to block use of a seat because the red
label certifying it as safe for airline use
had flaked off. That traveler won her
case by bringing the owner's manual
and appealing to the pilot—you
should do the same.
Getting safety seats on an interna-
tional flight may be even more diffi-
cult. Ask to make sure you can use
your safety seat when you book a
flight on a foreign airline.
Until the new FAA rule comes into
effect, if you can't afford the expense
of a separate ticket, book a ticket
toward the back of the plane at a time
when air travel is likely to be slow-
est—and the seat next to you is most
likely to be empty. The reservationist
should also be able to recommend the
best (meaning the least busy) time for
you to fly.
Although individual airline policies
differ (check with the specific airline
for details), for the most part children
ages 5 to 11 pay the regular adult fare
and can travel alone as unaccompa-
nied minors on domestic flights only
with an escort from the airlines—a
flight attendant who seats the child,
usually near the galley, where the
flight crew is stationed; watches over
the child during the flight; and escorts
the child to the appropriate connect-
ing gate or to the adult who will be
picking up the child. Unaccompanied
minors typically board first and dis-
embark last.
On domestic flights, the service
costs between $30 and $75, depend-
ing on the airline and whether the
child will have to change planes. On
all the major airlines, several children
traveling together from the same fam-
ily will only have to pay one fee.
Unaccompanied children are never
left alone; escorts stay with them until
turning them over to an escort on the
connecting flight or to a designated
guardian. Airlines require attending
adults to furnish a name, address, and
government-issued photo ID. The
adult who drops the child off at the
airport must then designate the name
and address of the adult who is
authorized to pick the child up. At the
destination city, the airline will not
release the child to anyone but the
authorized adult, after receiving a sig-
nature and seeing a photo ID.
Children ages 5 to 7 generally may
travel unaccompanied on direct and
nonstop flights only; in other words,
they're not allowed to change planes
for connecting flights at that age.
(Northwest and Delta allow all chil-
dren to travel on connecting flights.)
Children ages 8 to 11 may make con-
necting flights with an escort, with the
exception of Southwest and America
West, which do not allow any unac-
companied child under the age of 12
to take a connecting flight. America
West's policy is relatively new, started
in 2001 after two embarrassing inci-
dents where the airline sent one child
to the wrong destination and neg-
lected to tell a parent about another
child's flight delay.
Children over the age of 12 are con-
sidered adults and may travel without
an escort on every major carrier but
Northwest, which requires escorts
until age 14. They still qualify for
assistance from the airline for the extra
fee. Southwest is the only airline that
does not allow children to use the
escort service once they are able to fly
without one, at age 12.
Because airlines want to avoid the
responsibility of having to shepherd
children overnight, minors are usually
not allowed to take the last connecting
flight of the day, when the risk of
missed connections is greatest. Minors
are usually not allowed to travel on
standby, and they must have con-
firmed reservations.
On connecting flights, ask when
you book if the child will be flying on
Search WWH ::

Custom Search