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What you should know about letting your child fly alone

With spring break upon us and summer vacation not far behind, many divorced parents will be putting their children on airplanes to visit their mom or dad who lives some distance away. If a child has never flown alone before, parents often feel some trepidation at this prospect.

Airlines have procedures for taking care of what they call "unaccompanied minors." However, it's essential for parents to shop around when determining what airline to trust your child to. Each airline has different regulations, age limits and fees.

Airline regulations vary regarding what ages they will let children fly alone. Of course, there's a minimum age, which is at least five. Generally, children up to at least 12 need to fly under this program. When they get into the teen years, it varies. Parents can often choose to have their kids fly as unaccompanied minors up to 18 as long as they pay the fee. The unaccompanied minor fee varies by airline.

So what does this fee get you? Unaccompanied minors are escorted by airline personnel onto the plane and to their seat. Flight attendants will keep an eye on them during the flight. They'll be escorted from the plane at the end of the flight to their parent or guardian. The kids will also be given identifying information to keep on their person.

Some airlines will only allow unaccompanied minors on direct flights to avoid having to deal with transfers. Even if that's not an airline requirement, it's wise for parents not to subject their kids to having to change flights. Too many things can go wrong.

It's essential for parents to know what they need to do at each end of the flight. You'll likely have to arrive early, complete some paperwork and show identification and proof of age for your child before he or she gets on the plane. Some airlines allow parents to accompany their children to the gate and pick them up at the gate, with proper security clearance.

Letting your child fly to and from a visit with your co-parent requires cooperation between the two of you. If you are encountering problems with your ex as you plan these flights that you can't resolve, your Florida family law attorney is a good source for guidance.

Source: FindLaw, "Airlines and Unaccompanied Minors," accessed March 09, 2018

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Fax: 561-253-6353