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Flying Alone – How Will You Know When Your Child Is Ready? #travel

Flying alone is a big step for any child. It’s a big step for a child’s parents, too! It can be a terrifying proposition. After all, the operative word in flying alone is ALONE. Your child will be out in the world, flying and checking in/being picked up on their own far, far away from you. Terrifying. So how do you know when your child is ready to take that step?

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Flying Alone – A Litmus Test to See if Your Child is Ready

Sending a child out into the world is more about their ability to interact safely in that world rather than their physical size. For example, if I had to choose between sending out a totally irresponsible 14 year old on a plane trip or a super conscientious 9 year old, I’d pick the 9 year old. Flying alone requires attention to detail, the ability to follow signs and directions, and a sense of responsibility. None of that necessarily reflects age.

A Few Things to Consider before Your Child Flies Alone

  • Responsibility – First and foremost, is your child responsible? Does he or she show their responsible nature on a daily basis? Do they always keep their phones charged and with them when they’re out of the house? Do they keep their money safe and use it appropriately. Do they answer their phone when you call? Do they call when they’re running late? Are their grades in order? All of these questions and more are beneficial to deciding if your child is ready for flying alone, because they show responsibility.
  • Thoroughness – Is your child a careful and thorough person, or does he or she have the ability to be careful and thorough. They’ll be navigating at least a small portion of an airport and boarding a plane. This is not the time to be misreading signs or winging it. If your child does chores well, stays organized with their schoolwork and scheduling, and follows directions well, that’s a good sign for solo airline travel.
  • Independence – This one is so important for flying alone. Can your child handle being alone? The most responsible, thorough child will have a problem flying alone if they get nervous about being away from mom and dad. If you child frequently has spend overs at their friend’s houses or their grandparent’s house for a day or two, they’re probably comfortable enough to go on short trips without you.
  • Readiness – This isn’t what you think. Your child may be ready, but are YOU ready? Flying alone is a super ginormous deal. You are sending your baby off into the great big world all alone – at least for a portion of the trip. If you can’t handle it, don’t send your child. The last thing you want to do is call 15 times and forever make your kids nervous about traveling.

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Flying Alone – Are the Kids Ready? Are You?

If you look at the above questions and ask yourself other more personal questions, you’ll know. If you have a responsible, attentive, independent child, and you have the stomach for it, flying alone is a great way to allow your child to experience a bit of independence when they go see a relative or take a short trip with friends of the family. You just need to know you’re both ready!

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.

23 Comments

  • Alli Smith

    My oldest child was 12 when she flew alone for the first time. She loved it and I was terrified. I was so relieved when she made it to her grandmother’s. She’s always been independent and was more than ready for her solo trip. I wasn’t as ready as she was. 🙂

    • Paula

      Ha! I know my oldest would not be ready yet, but she is an anxious girl even at 15 and that’s okay. I have however seen young ones traveling to Grandmas. In fact two summers ago when I was flying I watched a Mom sit right with her kids up until it was time to board and then she said good bye and they both got on. The attendant helped them but they were totally okay – and they looked to be maybe 7 and 9 at most. I was stunned and in awe. I could not have done that at that age as a kid.

  • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

    I was in college when I flew alone for the first time! I never had to go anywhere by myself so I never needed to fly by myself. I am just not sure I am comfortable with a 9 year old flying by themselves either. I think high school age at the youngest, at least!

    • Paula

      Me too. I was in university and 21 or 22 I think. I have seen some very young kids going alone with flight attendant help and I am always amazed and surprised too. Some kids get used to flying to see grandparents as babies and then they go for a month in the summer or something and grandma meets them right at the gate.

  • Pam Wattenbarger

    It’s so scary when you let your kids fly alone for the first time. I definitely agree that it’s not something to base on age, but on responsibility.

  • Amanda Love

    I’ve never thought about this before. I can’t imagine letting my younger kids fly on their own unless it’s absolutely necessary. this would definitely make a good guideline especially for parents who are considering allowing their kids to fly solo for the first time.

  • Jacqui - @TradesofJacqui

    My daughter is almost 16 and has never flown alone. She wants me to let her fly out to CA and stay with a friend for a week lol. But, there’s a possibility she’ll be flying along to visit family in OK next summer. To be honest, I would be ok with her doing it. And she’s so ready.

  • Sarah

    These are all great things to think about to ensure that your child is ready to fly, thanks for sharing them. I am sure it will provide insight for other parents about to have their child fly.

  • Michelle Varga

    The thought of my son taking a flight on his own terrifies me – but that’s probably because he’s only 3 years old! LOL Once he’s older and in his teen years I think it might be a good way for him to visit the rest of the family on the other side of the country.

  • Terri Beavers

    My kids were ready to fly alone long before I was. It’s not easy to let go and I never did let them travel alone. My sister on the other hand did let her children fly solo.

  • Courtneylynne

    I was in middle school when I flew alone for the first time. My parents paid an airline person to watch me though so technically I wasn’t alone lol

  • Lisa Rios

    I very much agree that Flying alone is such a big milestone for any child and for the concerned parents as well. As a parent you are going to be scared so much until they come back home and proper guidelines & assistance is what could help them!

  • Rosey

    My son was in high school I think when I flew him to Florida to spend a week with family. I hired an airline person to watch him, the fee wasn’t much at all. Underage minor I think is what it was called. Still I was a nervous wreck. I was so happy when he returned home. 🙂