There are no federal regulations about putting children on planes. Airlines set their own rules for minors flying alone. Most limit the youngest kids to nonstop flights to avoid the added confusion and risk of connecting to another plane. Some limit the number of solo children on any one flight.
Most U.S. airlines offer to take unaccompanied children as young as 5 for an extra fee of up to $300 per round trip. The carriers promise to help kids get on and off the plane.Flight attendants know when there is an unaccompanied minor on board, but airlines don’t add an extra attendant to watch children. Last week, 26-year-old Chad Cameron Camp of Oregon was arrested and charged with abusive sexual contact after an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Portland. According to an FBI agent’s statement, Camp sat next to a 13-year-old girl even though there were empty seats nearby including the aisle seat in the same row. He declined a flight attendant’s offer to move. When a flight attendant returned later to serve snacks to passengers, she saw Camp’s hand on the girl’s crotch, according to the arrest complaint. The girl was crying. Last summer, an 11-year-old boy was lost at the airport in Newark, New Jersey, for about 30 minutes until his grandfather found him. United said that a flight attendant had asked the boy to stay on the plane after it landed and didn’t notice when he left with other passengers. Experts offer tips for parents who book children for solo travel:
– Children should sit in the aisle seat near the front of the plane to be more visible.
– Talk to your kids about what to do when somebody does anything that makes them uncomfortable.
– Book a nonstop if available.
– Pick flights early in the day to reduce the risk of being stranded overnight.
– When you take your child to the gate, ask who will accompany them on and off the plane and whether another passenger will sit next to them.