Summer School break is here and it is family time for most families. Some children are sent off to their grandparents, another parent, or close family member in another country or state. The option of children traveling alone is available and gives these children the ability to visit other loved ones away from their primary home.
How sure are we as parents though that these airlines are following all protocol and procedures that are in place for the safety of our children?
Today, I discovered something quite disturbing. It is about the fourth time my 9-year-old daughter travels from EWR to SJU. (New Jersey-Puerto Rico) For the first time, at the special service, unaccompanied minor check-in window, the representative notices that the address on the arrival end, placed on the special UMNR form that needs to be filled out for our children’s safety, is not a physical address. I quickly called my daughters father to confirm his address and mentioned it has to be the physical address on his photo ID if not they will not give him our daughter. He said, ‘it’s not a big deal, they never check it.’ Wait, what? They never check his ID to confirm he is in fact the person receiving our 9 year old on that end? That concerns me. Yes, I will contact JetBlue to inform them of their lack of responsibility for our children’s safety. With all that is going on in today’s world, it is our responsibility as parents that we ensure that all policies are being followed, especially when our children’s safety is in question.
Anything can happen at an airport during the chaos of boarding and onboarding passengers as well as any diversions planes may have to face due to turbulence or any unforeseen occurrences. Although we a parents pay a fee for unaccompanied minors to fly solo, the flight attendants are not their babysitters. Any stranger at the airport can easily trick a child into believing they need to go with them for whatever reason.
For this reason, I have provided a contingency plan that may be useful for our children:
1: Talk to your child about the dangers of strangers and if anything seems inappropriate or scary to tell a flight attendant or even yell if need be.
2: If the airline you book with doesn’t have Unaccompanied Minors sit in the back with the stewardess, be sure to assign your child a seat with maximum visibility.
3: Teach your child about the importance of following all emergency contingency plans in case of an emergency. How to use the oxygen mask, following lights in the aisle to emergency exit, leaving belongings behind, sliding in down the emergency slice, putting in the life jacket and to listen to the instructions regarding these at every flight, no matter what.
4: Never leave the flight attendants side when you exit the plane at the gate, wait for your trusted adult.
5: Lastly, have your child call you when they arrive.
I’ve provided a link of JetBlue’s policy and procedures involving unaccompanied minors. I hope this is of help to you and your family.