Connect with us

Travel

Got a kid flying alone? Here's the ultimate checklist for unaccompanied minors

Published

on

[ad_1]

Got a child flying alone? Here are expert tips that seasoned flight attendants wish every parent knew.

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

Planning for a trip can be taxing, but planning a trip for an unaccompanied minor can be downright stressful. While minimum ages for children flying alone can vary depending on the airline, most children are able to fly without a parent or guardian from age 5 as an unaccompanied minor.

While it can feel like you’re sending your child off and hoping for the best as they lift off into the friendly skies, there are tips and tools for making a trip to visit friends or family members safer, as well as more comfortable for kids traveling alone. We spoke with some seasoned flight attendants—each of them parents—to get some of their best ideas for children traveling alone.

Get deals and shopping advice delivered straight to your phone. Sign up for text message alerts from the experts at Reviewed.

Read the fine print

Be sure to read the fine print before every flight. Airlines differ in their processes when it comes to unaccompanied minors.

Caroline Mills has been a flight attendant for six years and is a mom of two. Mills says her first rule of thumb is to tell parents to always read the fine print, research the rules and regulations and what fee applies to the services of each airline before booking your child’s ticket. This will also help you figure out which airline is the best for your child flying alone.

“Airline policies can vary slightly and are always updating. Read [those policies] before buying a ticket,” she says. “If you feel prepared going in it’ll help make a calmer experience for your child,” she says.

Make sure they’re ready

Your child may be of age to fly alone, but it's important to make sure they have the temperament to deal with unexpected changes in schedules.

Your child may be technically old enough to travel unaccompanied, but there are a few things to take into account before you determine if they are ready to fly alone. Keep in mind that flights can be unpredictable with delays, diversions and cancellations, making travel particularly tough for some kids.

All the flight attendants we spoke to agreed that it’s most important that you check that your child is emotionally ready to fly alone before you put them on a plane without a trusted adult.

Is your kid prone to stress? Are they still quite clingy? Do they require predictability? These may be signs to wait a bit more before you send them off on their own.

“You can prepare them by taking them through each scenario, what to expect and what to do, but it really depends on your child, if they are ready to fly alone or not,” says Mills.

Prep them for the flight

Prepping kids to know what to expect will help set them at ease.

“Kids love predictability so it’s always a good idea to prep them for what’s to come,” says Rebecca Jane, a flight attendant with over nine years of experience flying with a major US airline.

She recommends walking kids through what the entire experience will look like, from gate to landing. Let them know that the adults who will help them will be in uniform, and show them pictures of what the uniforms will look like.

“Let them know they will be walked to their seat with a flight attendant and there will be a call button, should there be anything they need,” she says.

Teach them to ask for help

Give them a rundown about how to ask for help if they feel scared or unsafe.

There’s always the worry that your child may end up needing to change their seat or sitting next to someone that makes them nervous.

“If they are afraid of something or are sitting next to someone who makes them anxious, some kids get scared to ask for help, so let them know how they can ask for assistance,” says Jane.

Both she and Mills say to role-play a bit before the flight and instruct children that, if they ever feel they are in danger, to go to the bathroom and wait there until a flight attendant is nearby whom they can ask for help.

“It’s a good idea to empower kids before the flight,” says Mills. “Let them know that we do this with adults all the time and are happy to do this for children.”

She adds that the bathroom strategy helps timid children avoid feeling like they are pointing fingers.

“There is almost always a flight attendant right by the bathroom in the rear of the plane,” says Mills. “We are there to help them and to keep them safe, so be sure to let them know that’s a safe place to go for help.”

Everything your kid needs to bring

These smart products will help your kid be comfortable and prepared for a long flight. 

1. Make contact info easy to find

Arm your child with a lanyard with all of their important ID info, or write it out on jelly bracelets with a Sharpie.

Mills recommends a child always has easy-to-find contact info on them. This includes a contact number, any food allergies and medications, and the child’s departure and destination cities. If a flight is delayed or a connecting flight has been canceled, it helps the attendants to be able to immediately contact whoever is scheduled to meet the child at their destination.

“Having all of that information handy allows flight attendants to comfort the kid without needing to get a nervous child to remember and recite important information,” says Mills.

A clever thing she’s seen parents do is write all pertaining information on jelly bracelets with a Sharpie.

“Kids like wearing them and it’s a smart way to make sure we have all the information we need,” says Mills.

2. ID everything

Kids lose stuff, so it's a good idea to ID everything. Also, having important info on all of their stuff can help a flight attendant get in contact with you in a pinch.

If all else fails, having a name and a phone number on all of the child’s personal belongings is at least a good starting point. Not only does it give flight attendants numerous opportunities to find out how to contact a parent, if a confused child leaves something behind, you’ll be glad you slapped a sticker on their belongings.

Shop Mabel’s Labels combo packs

3. Send them with lots of snacks

It can sometimes take upwards of two hours for a child to get their meal on a flight. Be sure to send them off with lots of snacks.

Most fees for unaccompanied minors include a free airline meal but Jane says that is rarely enough food to get a child through a long day of travel, and there are lots of other things to consider with that free meal.

Preferential seating for kids typically means children are in the back of the airplane, in order to keep them close to the flight attendants and other families. That means that unaccompanied minors are one of the last people to get served food and drinks on the plane. If you take into account how long it takes for a flight to actually get into the air, a child flying alone will be looking at a minimum of two hours without food on most flights—sometimes longer.

Jane and Mills say that they love seeing kids with bento-style lunch boxes filled with lots of options for healthy treats.

We like bento box-style kids’ lunch boxes with attached lids—to prevent the inevitable dropped lid on a dirty airplane floor—and we recommend boxes that have lots of small compartments for variety.

4. Pack an insulated water bottle

It can be a long wait before a flight attendant can get a child something to drink. Be sure to send them with an insulated water bottle that you can fill at the gate.

Just like with food, it’s likely children will have a bit of a wait to hydrate. Both Jane and Mills recommend that you send your unaccompanied minor with a refillable water bottle.

You’ll be able to walk your child through check-in and there are lots of filling stations along the way to their gate, so they can board the plane with a full bottle to get them through. We recommend an insulated water bottle with a tightly closing lid, to prevent spills.

Get the Simple Modern 14-ounce Kids’ Water Bottle at Amazon for $16.99

5. Dress them in layers

Dressing in layers is a smart call. We love this hoodie that can transform into a cuddly plush.

Travel can mean going from a hot tarmac to a chilly cabin. Mills and Jane recommend dressing kids in layers to make sure they are comfortable. Like adults, loose-fitting clothes with lots of pockets are key for comfort and for quick access to key essentials. Compression socks are good for circulation and a good zip-up hoodie will help keep them cozy. For smaller travelers, we like the Cubcoats convertible hoodies that go from cuddly plush to a wearable layer with just a few zips.

6. Pack a tablet

Preload your child's tablets with games and movies.

“If there was ever a time for screen time, it’s on an airplane,” says Jane, and we agree. Arming a child with a kid-friendly tablet is a no-brainer, but Jane has tips for maximizing your child’s tablet and for minimizing frustration when there isn’t a parent available to help.

Even if an airline offers free wifi, it’s not always reliable. To save your kid from disappointment and frustration, Jane recommends you clear out all of the junk on your child’s tablet prior to a flight to make sure it runs smoothly and doesn’t drain the battery. Then preload games, movies, books, music and TV shows so they have plenty of access to wireless entertainment for the duration of their travel.

7. Get a set of volume-control headphones

These Puro Sound headphones can be wireless and they offer volume control.

Kids’ headphones are a must. A set with preset volume control will help protect your child’s ears when you aren’t there to help them. Jane recommends pre-connecting wireless headphones to their devices, to keep any extra entanglement and frustrations at bay.

Our testers highly recommend the Puro Soundlabs as the best headphones for kids. Both versions of the Soundlabs can be wireless or wired and both come with excellent sound quality, noise-canceling features and volume control that you can preset.

8. Try a screen-free audio player

This screen-free audio player is tiny and portable.

Depending on the duration of the flight, your kid may want to tap into some screen-free entertainment. We are impressed with the Yoto Mini as a pocket-sized audio player that kids can take with them anywhere they go. It’s also frustration-free should kids run into any difficulties with technology during their travels.

The Yoto Mini functions just like the regular Yoto, but can literally fit in a pocket. Simply slip in one of their pre-loaded story cards (or record your own) and they are ready to go.

They’ll be so happy to have this player to get them through a long flight and, since it also functions as a Bluetooth speaker and a travel clock, they’ll be just as glad to have it with them once they land.

9. Pack some extra chargers

Zipit makes fun cases that can store all of your kiddo's power cords.

Kids aren’t very good at keeping an eye on battery life, so make sure your kids have all of their chargers handy. Jane advises you give your kids a little primer not only on which chargers go with which device, but also ensuring that they know how to use them.

We recommend storing all of their chargers in a handy little zip-up case to keep cords neat and tangle-free.

10. Get a slim-profile backpack

Find a sturdy kids' backpack with lots of pockets and a slim profile.

Keep in mind that you are going to check any bag your child has, so make sure they have a small, easy-to-manage carry-on that can fit under their seat and that they can easily access from that awkward angle while they are seatbelted in.

“You need something that’s easy to navigate for a kid that’s strapped in their seat,” says Jane.

We recommend a kid’s backpack with lots of pockets for essentials and a grab handle that allows for easy lifting from the seat in front of them, so they can access their snacks and activities while still remaining buckled in.

We like the Youth Recon backpack by North Face for its slimmer profile, which makes it easy for kids to carry down long airplane aisles, and ensures the backpack not only fits under airline seats, but can slide out easily without snagging on its way up.

Get the North Face Recon Youth Backpack at Amazon starting at $49.95

There’s a lot more where this came from. Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter to get all our reviews, expert advice, deals and more.

The product experts at Reviewed have all your shopping needs covered. Follow Reviewed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok or Flipboard for the latest deals, product reviews and more.

Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.



[ad_2]

Travel

Razzies royally torch 'Diana' musical and 'Space Jam 2,' show love to Oscar favorite Will Smith

Published

on

[ad_1]

[ad_2]

Continue Reading

Business

As more marijuana dispensaries get targeted by robbers, SAFE Banking Act lingers in Congress

Published

on

[ad_1]

Weed dispensaries targeted by robbers: Will SAFE Banking Act help?

A bill that could allow electronic transactions at weed dispensaries nationwide is again make its way through Congress but the SAFE Banking Act might not be the cure-all that supporters envision.

In over a decade of operating cannabis shops in Washington, Shea Hynes never once worried about his stores getting robbed at gun point – until recently: In a span of three weeks, his stores were robbed three different times at gun point.

Reports of armed robberies at cannabis dispensaries like Hynes’ have nearly doubled in the first quarter of this year compared with all of last year, according to data maintained by the Craft Cannabis Coalition. The group, which represents more than 50 stores in Washington, has recorded more than 65 armed robberies so far this year, compared with 35 in 2021 and 29 in 2020. 

Subscribe to continue reading

Access all subscriber-only stories free for 2 months

Subscribe Now

Help Terms of Service Privacy Policy Your California Privacy Rights / Privacy Policy Our Ethical Principles Site Map

© 2022 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC.

[ad_2]

Continue Reading

Travel

Takeaways from Friday's Sweet 16: North Carolina looks like national title contender

Published

on

[ad_1]



[ad_2]

Continue Reading

Trending