How to make sure children reach the camp safely?
Thousands of kids and teenagers go on holidays without their parents every year and they have a great – and perfectly safe – time.
Many of the risks that are associated with children flying alone can be overcome by using common sense and taking a few basic precautions. The following tips will help both children traveling solo and those responsible for the child to deal with many of the problems that may be encountered.
10 Frequently Asked Questions
- How and where do you welcome children coming by airplane? Les Elfes welcomes campers in the arrival hall of the Geneva Airport (GVA). We have our own office here. Our friendly and helpful staff will take care of the youngsters right away and then drive them with our private bus to the campus. Both of our campuses can be easily reached within 1h50 after leaving the Geneva airport.
- Can I accompany my child to the campus? Yes! We always are very happy to meet the parents when they visit the camp. We can arrange the welcome and transfer for the parents as well. You also can drive your child to the campus. We will of course provide you the travel details.
- If I accompany my child to camp, can I stay the night nearby? Absolutely. We can advise you some beautiful hotels in the resort. You may also wish to spend your holidays in Switzerland to enjoy the peace of the Alps or to discover the lake Geneva region.
- Are there any preferred arrival or departure times? No. Because kids arrive from all over the world, the time of the arrival depends on the flight possibilities. Les Elfes handles this in a very flexible way. In any case we will arrange the transfers according to the flight times of the kids.
- Should your child fly alone? The unaccompanied child: Airlines call a child who flies alone an unaccompanied minor (UM). Generally, a child must be five years old to fly alone, and each airline has its own policies, restrictions and requirements. The airline will request from parents the name and phone number of the pick-up person. We would provide you all those relevant information if required. Once the child boards the plane, he is in the care of a flight attendant. If it is a non-stop flight, the flight attendant will transfer the child to the adult waiting at the arrival city. If the child will be making a connection to another flight, the flight attendant will accompany the child to the gate agent or airport employee who will then take the child to the appropriate gate. There should be an adult airline or airport employee with the child at all times. Depending on the number of legs on the trip, the child may be under the care of several different adults. If the child will be spending some time in the airport, the airline may have special kid-friendly lounges for UM’s. These may not be in every airport or available from every airline. The reservation agent will know if there is one in the airport a child is traveling through.
- When is a child ready to fly alone? Parents are the best judges of that. Is the child comfortable around strangers? Is he/she able to keep track of her belongings, follow directions and entertain herself quietly for extended periods of time? The responsibility that goes along with flying alone can give kids a great sense of independence and confidence. But, if a child is unsure of herself, shy or scared, flying can be a frightening experience. Parents can help alleviate some anxiety by preparing the child ahead of time. Like so many other parenting situations, children pick up on their parents’ feelings. The child should know what will happen at the airport, through security, on the plane and at the destination. If he will be changing planes, parents need to stress that he follows the directions of the flight attendant or gate agent.
- Is the Pre-boarding different? On the day of travel, parents should allow extra time at the airport to fill out paperwork and pass through security. Some airlines ask parents and UM’s to arrive three hours ahead of time. The reservation agent can provide that information. Parents can go through security to the gate with their child but won’t be able to board the plane with them.
- Additional Fees? Not all airlines charge a UM service fee, but many do. Charges can vary depending on whether the flight is domestic or international and if there are connecting flights. If two or more children are flying together, the fee is usually charged just once.
- Happy landings? Airlines ask parents to stay at the gate until the plane has pulled away from the gate since mechanical problems or weather delays could result in passengers deplaning. The plane should be well on its way before adults leave the gate. There should have be a back up plan (or two) for picking up the child at the destination. The child should have names and phone numbers of the persons he may need to call.
When your child is ready to fly alone, you have every reason to expect it will be a positive experience. A little bit of preparation and careful planning can make it a pleasant journey. Opportunity for your child to spread his wings and fly!