ADVICE FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN FLYING SOLO
Here are tips from various airlines for children who will be flying alone. Parents should consult with individual airlines for specific rules or recommendations:
First and foremost, tell the child not to leave the plane under any circumstances unless escorted by a flight attendant.
Try to schedule flying time in the middle of the day to avoid the disruption of getting up at dawn to make an early flight or flying at night.
Arrive at the airport at least an hour before scheduled departure time. Most airlines require forms to be filled out, and the extra time allows for relaxed goodbys, which put children at ease.
Explain that flight attendants are there to make the trip easier, and your child should not hesitate to ask them for help.
Brief the child about meal service. If a special meal (hamburger, peanut butter and jelly, or spaghetti circles) better suits a child, many airlines will allow you to order one 24 hours ahead of the flight.
Send along a favorite toy (a quiet one), game or book; a few of each for longer flights.
Gift wrap a toy to open en route--a bit of intrigue to occupy short attention spans.
Provide the child with enough money to make phone calls should the need arise.
In addition to filling out the airline’s paper work, include on the child’s person a home telephone number, the city of his destination and the phone number of the person who is supposed to meet him.
Send along gum or hard candy for the child to chew during the plane’s descent. Some children experience uncomfortable eardrum pressure and chewing relieves it.
If a child is arriving on a flight unaccompanied, make sure to be at the gate on time. “It breaks their little hearts if no one is there to meet them,” said Patti Humberger, flight attendant for American Airlines.