When divorced parents live some distance apart, one of them typically has primary or possibly sole custody of their children. The kids often spend school breaks and at least part of their summer vacation with their non-custodial parent.
If you’re in Maryland and your co-parent has moved hundreds or maybe thousands of miles away, that may mean the most convenient way for your child to get back and forth is to fly. Flying is stressful enough for adults, especially these days. It can be even more so for a child. On the other hand, if your child has a sense of adventure, they might enjoy being a solo traveler.
Unaccompanied minors services
Fortunately, they won’t really be alone. Major airlines have services for unaccompanied minors (UM). They vary somewhat, so it’s a good idea to look at the airlines that fly between your location and your co-parent’s and then start comparing their UM services and flights.
Typically, UM services are for children between 5 and 15 years old. The airline may require kids on the younger side of that range to take non-stop flights. That’s wise even if they don’t. You want the least possible chance of anything going wrong.
When comparing UM programs, make sure that your child will have an airline employee escort from the time you have to leave them until they’re seated on the plane (and as they get off the plane until they’re met by their awaiting parent). Prices for these services vary by airline.
How to prepare for the flight
Once you make the reservations, find out what documentation you’ll need for your child (for example, to prove their age and identity), how early you need to arrive at the airport and how far you can accompany them.
Be sure your child knows how to contact you and your co-parent or ask for help if they get separated from their airline chaperone. Depending on your child’s age, be sure they understand never to go with anyone unless they have an appropriate ID and never to leave the airport with anyone.
If airline travel will be a regular part of your child’s transitions between parents, it’s wise to have provisions for it in your parenting plan. You’ll also want to include details about how the cost will be divided. With legal guidance, you can help make these journeys less stressful for you and your child.