Parents sometimes have no choice but to let their children fly alone. Whether it’s traveling to grandparents’ houses or visiting a mother or father who is in another location, even if the child has a mobile phone, parents can get anxious, says Jamie Freed of The Sydney Morning Herald.
Air New Zealand has a solution called “Airband.” When the child is travelling alone, they will receive one of the wrist-bands when they check-in as a part of the service. The band is embedded with a chip that is scanned at certain stages of the trip to send text notifications to up to five designated contacts.
Air NZ’s general manager of customer experience Carrie Hurihanganui said:
“While our staff have always taken great care of children travelling solo, we identified that there was an opportunity to enhance the experience for kids while at the same time giving caregivers further peace of mind and visibility of their journey.”
The service is available for all children between the ages of five and 11 who are travelling by themselves. Even kids up to 16 can opt in, however. Until February 3, the service is free, but after that, the charge will be $NZ15 each way for domestic flights and $NZ40 each way for international flights if children register as a child traveling alone before check-in at the airport.
Jetstar New Zealand does not allow children under the age of 12 or kids “who cannot prove they are enrolled in secondary school” to travel alone. Quantas, an Australian airline, allows youngsters of five to 11 to fly on domestic flights but charges a $50 service fee and on international flights a charge of $90. Virgin Australian’s policy is similar to Quantas’.
This useful service may have more wide-spread applications, according to John Walton writing for the Runaway Girl Network. There is a large aging demographic in our country, many of whom are feeling great and ready to travel. But some may require assistance in airports that are large or if they are making tight connections.
London’s Heathrow is one airport that is already using this technology to ensure that passengers are where they should be. Add the elderly, people with disabilities, reduced mobility, or anyone with special needs and the necessity for technical assistance becomes apparent.
The AirSafe site has suggested few other issues to consider if a child is going to be travelling alone. The first is that not all children in the five to 12 are ready for such an experience. AirSafe suggests that parents consider the maturity of the child. The young person will be in the presence of strangers for several hours and may face unusual situations.
Include in the child’s take-on luggage a copy of all necessary contact information, and coordinate carefully with the person who will be picking up the child. Make sure that person has identification that exactly matches the information the child has and the information supplied to the airline.
The youngster needs to know what is going to happen during the flight and after he or she disembarks. It could be a good idea for the child to have a picture of the person who is picking her up to ensure a safer journey with or without AirBand.