Children flying alone will need emergency contact information, checklists and more from parents

Sending kids alone on a flight can be scary. 

Many airlines allow children as young as age 5 to fly alone. 

There are plenty of things you can do to ease your own mind as a parent and help keep your child comfortable and safe on a solo flight. 


Below are five tips for sending your child on a plane alone for the first time. 

An American Airlines plane

Before your child takes off on a solo flight, keep these tips in mind.  (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

  1. Check airline policies
  2. Do a test run
  3. Be sure they have a way to contact you
  4. Pack a carry-on with essentials and comfort items
  5. Download movies for entertainment

1. Check airline policies

Different airlines have different rules for minor who fly unaccompanied. 

Many airlines, such as American and United, have what is called an “unaccompanied minor service.” 

This is an extra fee tacked onto an unaccompanied minor’s ticket. 

For both of those airlines, travelers ages 5 to 14 are required to pay this fee — and it’s optional for those ages 15 to 17. 

Happy young blonde woman sitting on sofa with a tablet

Check airline policies regarding children flying alone. The airlines all have different rules regarding unaccompanied minors on flights.  (iStock)

On most flights with this fee, children will be able to board the plane early, and flight attendants will escort the child on and off the plane. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that some airlines, such as Frontier, don’t allow children under age 15 to fly alone. 


While you’re looking for a flight to book, try to book a direct flight if you can for an easier travel day for your child. This is another important factor to consider when looking at airline policies, because certain airlines don’t allow kids to fly on connecting flights. 

2. Do a test run

Before travel day, sit down with your child and go over all the details. Talk about things like what time you’ll be leaving, what to do while on the flight and who is going to be meeting the child at the airport upon arrival

If you live close to the airport, it’s not a bad idea to go there before the day of the trip, so you can be familiar with the space.

O'Hare airport

If you are able, do a quick walk-through at the airport before your child’s flight. This could help your child become more comfortable with the area before traveling.  (iStock)

You can show your child where to go to check in for the flight and areas you’re able to go before security.

Maybe even grab a bite to eat from a spot in the airport while you’re there. Try to make your child as comfortable with the location as you can before the flight. 

3. Be sure they have a way to contact you

Obviously, a phone is the easiest way to contact your child. If your child has a phone, make sure it’s loaded with important numbers. Remind your child to give you a call upon landing. 


If your child does not have a phone or Wi-Fi-enabled device to message or call you with, be sure to write down all important phone numbers. 

4. Pack their carry-on with essentials and comfort items

In your child’s carry-on bag, you can’t forget the essentials, such as a passport if it’s necessary, some money and a plane ticket, but don’t forget the fun stuff, too. 

This includes plenty of your child’s favorite snacks and things to keep him or her entertained on the flight, such as a coloring book or small toys. 

YouTube Kids application

Download movies to your child’s iPad before the flight for something to watch while flying.  (Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A sweatshirt or small blanket is important to make room for, too. 

If you want to send your child off with a neck pillow for even more comfort, you can snap that right onto the strap of a backpack so you have plenty of room inside the bag for their belongings. 

5. Download movies for entertainment

If your child has an iPad, tablet or similar device, take time before the flight to download favorite movies. 

You’ll want to download before the trip, so your child won’t need Wi-Fi to play them. 

Sit down with your child and pick out a few favorites. Make sure they are downloaded and ready to go before the flight. 


Also remind your child to plug in headphones while listening to music or watching movies on the plane. 

Don’t forget to make sure the device is fully charged before you go. 

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