This post was stimulated by yet another call from a parent who described her recent negative experience booking a flight with one of the major airlines operating in the US. Here at WeFlyKids, it completely baffles us how many airline agents simply don’t know the basic rules regarding booking flights for kids. For example, this mother was told that her 6 year old could fly on the airline’s one stop flight to visit the child’s grandmother in Texas. When the mother and child arrived to the airport, they were told at the counter that she indeed could not get on that flight because it wasn’t a nonstop flight. Okay…well, there weren’t any nonstop flights to that airport in Texas. And since it was of course past the 24 hour window eligibility for a refund, she could not get a refund!
The fact is that only about 2% of the flights booked by airline agents are for unaccompanied minors. How many times has a parent while listening to an agent (often difficult to understand because of a thick accent) heard, “Let me check to see (the rules) if your child can fly alone on this flight”? Admittedly, some of the details are difficult to remember, but failing to know that a six year old flying alone must fly on a nonstop flight with every airline is a bad joke.
Here’s another recent story from a disheartened mother. She told us that when she booked her flight with the airline, the agent forgot (or didn’t know!) to tell her that the $150 each way for the unaccompanied minor fee needed to be paid sometime before the flight. So she arrived to the airport with her child. And yes, it was yet another shock to a parent at the airport to find out that she needed to pay a total of $300 for the roundtrip and she simply didn’t have that amount on her card. The agent at the airport had no choice but to cancel the flight for the unaccompanied minor. She then told them to book another flight at a later date.
To be fair, there are many airline agents who know their stuff. They would never book flights for kids like the agents described above. But we think that it’s surer and safer to book with a professional who only books flights for children flying alone. Our agents know the rules and fees for all the airlines through and through. That way, the parent has the best chance to hear about more than one option for flying their kid and has someone on the other line who they can actually trust.