What’s the Difference Between Kids and Carry-on Luggage?
Travelers are asking the question, what’s the difference between kids and carry-on luggage?
Judging by the new round of airline fees, probably not much.
Southwest Airlines opted not to charge for carry-on baggage, but just announced it was doubling the fees it charges unaccompanied kids to fly.
Most airlines charge a fee for “UM’s (Unaccompanied Minors) as they’re called in the biz, but Southwest’s jump from $25.00 to $50.00 each way says a lot about the “fee-madness" that has infected airlines everywhere, especially since only a year ago Southwest didn’t charge anything.
We assume the new fee has nothing to do with discouraging kids from flying solo, though we suspect it does. Solo Kids require special attention, an alert staff and often lots of TLC, traits not normally found in any airline.
Parents sending a "UM" need to check each airline’s policy very carefully. Some airlines will waive the carry-on baggage fee for the kids, for example, while others promise a snack.
But all make it clear they are not baby sitters.
Check the cut-off ages too. Southwest’s policy applies to kids 5-11, but in some airlines, teens are subject to the UM fee.
Worst of all is the possibility that your child may arrive at the wrong destination.
Last June Continental sent two kids, 8 and 12, to the wrong cities, causing family travel web site, The Vacation Gals, to urge parents to think less in terms of fees, and more in terms of the airline’s experience with UM’s.
Tips from family travel experts include:
- Study the Unaccompanied Minor rules of the airline and have copies of all paper work.
- Be sure your child has emergency numbers and food. Having some cash and a cell phone are very important.
- Be certain your child gets on the aircraft while you observe from the gate area.
Since so many factors are at play here (remember Murphy’s Law) it’s best not to let your child fly alone the very first time he or she is flying.
Would you let your child fly solo?