As another school year comes to an end and the busy summer travel season begins, we see an increase in the number of Unaccompanied Minors(UMs—children five through 11) and Young Travelers (YTs—children 12-17) that we welcome onboard our LUV jets. Because Southwest wants the children who fly by themselves to enjoy their travel experience, we would like to offer some helpful tips to all parents and guardians with the hope it will clarify and make the UM and YT processes smooth for everyone. It’s key to remember: Southwest Employees will be helpful and informative throughout the process, but as a parent or guardian, it’s up to you to prepare your child for the responsibility of traveling alone.
When booking the reservation, complete date-of-birth and the guardian contact information correctly and fully. Also, be sure to bring a copy of the UM’s birth certificate.
Bring appropriate games/toys/books for flight and airport entertainment.
Don’t forget to include any medication UMs may need in their carryon.
Know Southwest’s expectations for parents and guardians. A guardian must be at the gate until the flight has taken off, and the guardian picking up a UM must be at the gate prior to arrival of the aircraft.
Make sure YTs are prepared for the fast-paced, changing airport environment.
Address certain situations, like unforeseen delays, weather disruptions, and gate/aircraft changes, and advise the traveler of the appropriate action if the situation arose during their trip.
Teach YTs to understand the concourse/gate monitors that show gate, flight, and assistance information.
For both UMs and YTs:
Be clear about checkin and boarding times, and leave plenty of time for parking, baggage checkin, and long security lines.
Discuss what UMs and YTs can expect during flight and when they land. Employees can address specific expectations, if questions arise.
Plan for meals at the airport if necessary, as Southwest does not provide meal services.
Discuss who is picking up UMs or YTs when they reach their final destination—coordinate flight landing information.