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Flying Between Parents — Unaccompanied Minors and Air Travel

Time-sharing arrangements can sometimes include air travel for children who have divorced parents that live a significant distance from one another. As flying becomes increasingly convenient, children who fly frequently with their parents can easily become accustomed to flying alone or with siblings.

If your parenting plan includes sending your child to your ex by aircraft, here are some tips to make flying unaccompanied safer and more comfortable for everyone:

  • Clarify charges ahead of time — Contact the airline well in advance of the flight and ask about the fees for accompanying a minor child. Most airlines allow a child over 12 to fly as an adult without the extra fees, but it is best to confirm this.
  • Decide who is responsible — Determine the division of the fees with your ex and assign any additional costs related to travel. All of this should be included in your parenting plan and signed by both of you.
  • Arrange hand-offs — Your minor child needs to be met at the gate by an adult who has express permission to meet them. If the other parent is not able to meet the plane, you and your ex need to agree on a trusted adult who is familiar to your child.
  • Anticipate delays — Especially during holiday season, your child should expect delays in travel, both in the air and on the roads. Have a specific plan should your child miss a connecting flight or be stranded in the airport due to inclement weather.
  • Equip your child — Make sure your child has a charged phone, if possible, with emergency numbers programmed in. Pack nutritious snacks, drinks, and some cash or a credit card with a note of permission and spending limit.
  • Handle medication appropriately — If your child takes medication but is not old enough to manage it him or herself, hand the medication off with instructions to the airline staff. Include a copy of all prescriptions in your child’s hand luggage.

Flying between parents can be fun, especially if you and your ex make an effort to work through the details ahead of time. While you are working on your parenting plan with your divorce attorney, include as much information regarding your child’s travel schedule as possible.

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