If you’ve got a tween who’s preparing to fly alone on United Airlines, you might end up paying a fee you weren’t prepared for: United Airlines has quietly expanded the age range of children who have to use a $150 service when flying without an accompanying adult, raising it from an upper limit of age 12 to age 15.
Delta has got some explaining to do. Not only did the airline hand over a 7-year-old unaccompanied traveler to the wrong person when she arrived at her destination, but that wrong person happened to be the mother who recently got out of jail for kidnapping and beating the girl back in 2008. [More]
If you are planning on sending your kid on a solo trip to visit her grandparents in the new year, the L.A. Times reports that as of Dec. 5 the nation’s largest airline (for the moment) no longer accepts unaccompanied minors on flights that involve connections. So if that trek to and from GrandpaLand isn’t a nonstop flight, you’ll need to look for another airline for your whippersnapper. [via L.A. Times]
Back in June, the parents of a 10-year-old girl say they put their child in the hands of United Airlines staff for the kid’s first solo trip to summer camp, only to soon find out that the airline had somehow misplaced the young girl — and that the airline didn’t really seem to think this was a big deal.
I’m a single guy (Hello ladies…) and I’ve also sat next to an unaccompanied minor on an airplane without issue. But if I were a passenger on Australian carrier Qantas, I would have to switch seats with an adult woman because apparently my Y chromosome tags me, and all adult males, as a potential threat to children flying solo.
United Airlines has a simple enough policy regarding children flying alone (unaccompanied minors, as airlines call them.) They cannot travel on the last flight of the day. This makes sense: no one wants an unaccompanied minor to become a stranded unaccompanied minor if their flight is canceled. But when Hannah booked a flight for her 12-year-old son to travel unaccompanied, no one mentioned this rule, and United phone agents placed him on the last flight of the day. This meant that he was turned away at the airport, and his departure delayed until the next day. Hannah thinks that the family deserves some kind of compensation for this inconvenience due to United’s screwup.
For parents, it can be stressful enough to put your children on a plane on their own. And it only gets more irritating when you have to sort through each airline’s particular policy for unaccompanied minors to make sure your child will actually be able to fly without an adult — and how much it’s going to cost. But even then, the airlines can throw in a hitch that invalidates all your efforts.
Update: Delta representatives are in touch with Martin and his family, and we’ll let you know when they work something out.
Martin’s 5-year-old stepdaughter has had a very eventful holiday week. So has her family. Flying as an unaccompanied minor, she had to miss her original flight on AirTran and her family booked another at the last minute. The first reasonably priced flight available was on NWA/Delta, but her parents tell us that communication between different departments seems to have shut down–resulting in fees, hours of delays, and the child ultimately missing her flight because the airline didn’t mark down that the unaccompanied minor fee had already been paid.
Ok, here’s a crazy idea: if you’re an airline, and you have a form with room to list two adults who are authorized to pick up an unaccompanied minor, wouldn’t it make sense to have room for both names in your computer system? Because whoever is running Frontier Airline’s system doesn’t seem to think so! Kayla’s mother spent a frantic hour, IDs in hand, trying to prove that she was authorized to meet her 13-year-old daughter at the gate. The form accompanying her daughter clearly had both her and Kayla’s father listed, but the computer listed only the father’s name. While Frontier sorted out the confusion, Kayla spent an hour waiting in Denver Airport’s security room.
Sure, airlines misroute luggage all the time. But how about misrouting a ten-year-old girl to the wrong state?
When reader Anayah booked a ticket for her little sister to come visit her in New York, she specifically asked Delta if there would be a fee for an unaccompanied minor. They told her (twice) that since her sister was 14, there would be no fee. When Anayah’s family got to the gate Delta informed them that there would be a charge of $100 each way. Anayah’s mother could not afford to pay this fee and, since Delta would not allow Anayah to pay the fee in person at the ticket counter in New York, there would be an additional charge of $100 to pay by phone. The confusion caused her sister to miss her flight, and now Delta wants another fee to rebook her.