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Logistical nightmare - booking flights for 10 year old

Kitchener
posts: 3
reviews: 1
Logistical nightmare - booking flights for 10 year old

We want to fly our son to visit family in California for the month of July. He is 10. I can fly him via Air Canada from Toronto on his own on a direct flight (which is the only option for an unaccompanied minor) OR I can accompany him and fly out of Buffalo for nearly the same price. The problem is logistics!

Here is the "sched".

Me and son leave Toronto together.

I return from CA alone after one week.

Son remains for one month

Son and his cousin (who is 11) fly back together (on Air Canada as unaccompanied minors).

Cousin flies back to CA with his grandmother.

Obviously we want all parties to be seated with each other on all flights but wow, the logistics of doing this are brutal. I am NOT an experienced flier! Any advice??

UK
posts: 39,571
reviews: 81
1. Re: Logistical nightmare - booking flights for 10 year old

I'm not sure what your issue is.

Are you perhaps assuming that if you dont book flights together, you can't sit together?

1. Book the flights you want for each party separately, where relevant ensuring that you are on the exact same flights as each other for the parts where you are together.

So for example you'd book tickets for your son Toronto-Somewhere-Toronto a month apart.

Then you'd book tickets for yourself Toronto-Somewhere-Toronto a week apart, but both leave toronto same date same time same flight.

2. Now you are both on the same flight outbound, so you book seats for each, and choose ones that are next to each other.

3. Continue for cousin and grandmother.

If this seems too hard you could write down your desired flights and phone or call into an Air Canada office with your list of people, dates, flights and get them to book it.

But as I see it, its merely four separate people each booking a ticket, and on soem parts of their journey, they are on the same planes.

Edited: 12:08 pm, April 29, 2013
Brooklyn, NY
Destination Expert
for New York City
posts: 19,787
2. Re: Logistical nightmare - booking flights for 10 year old

Yeah, I agree with joe, and am not getting what part is "brutal."

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 7,605
reviews: 53
3. Re: Logistical nightmare - booking flights for 10 year old

Glad the other posters agree with me. Seems pretty routine to me. Just need to select seats next to eachother and monitor for equipment changes or random seat changes. It wouldn't be the end of the world if they were split apart though would it, not like we're talking about a 3yr child here.

Brooklyn, NY
Destination Expert
for New York City
posts: 19,787
4. Re: Logistical nightmare - booking flights for 10 year old

And if we're missing the part that makes this complicated, please let us know what it is, we'd be more than happy to help you figure it out. Right now, yes, there are a lot of pieces, but no reason it should be complicated to book.

Kitchener
posts: 3
reviews: 1
5. Re: Logistical nightmare - booking flights for 10 year old

Well first, there are two people sharing the costs of the flights. If I book each flight as its own "entity, does that mean a billing/payment for each?

As stated, I really want to make sure the boys are seated with each other etc...didn't realize seats are assigned after the fact.

I'm also obviously attempting to get the best price for the fairs. So perhaps I am over-thinking this and making it more difficult than it has to be?

I guess I'm overwhelmed (not being a frequent flier at ALL) by the number of options and pricing available. It seems to be all over the place as far as pricing is concerned and I don't know if I'm seeing the best prices from the most reliable places. Maybe THAT's my worry?!

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 626
6. Re: Logistical nightmare - booking flights for 10 year old

You may want to try calling - unless AC's reps are particularly unhelpful. Some US carriers require you to call rather than book online for a UM anyway.

I had a similar situation once and spent about half an hour on the phone with Delta's call center in India but they got it. I was sending Person A out in order for him to unofficially escort back Person B (who would then go back with the airline's help) If they didn't both get on the same flight for the shared leg there was no point in Person A leaving home at all.

Call to book the first interlocking set of round trips: you and your son, with different return dates and your son as UM on his return. They will tell you how seats are assigned or can be booked.

Don't worry about the two cousins being "together" on the Canada-bound flight. Since they are both flying UM they don't HAVE to be together to look after each other. So you really just have to two sets of flights to take care of.

Depending on your experience on the phone, either hang up and have a cup of tea before you call again or move on to the other flights. This time you want Cousin and Grandma to be on the same flight back to California.

Make sure you read all the requirements for UM, usually they can't go on the last flight of the day.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for London
posts: 45,562
reviews: 14
7. Re: Logistical nightmare - booking flights for 10 year old

If I were making the bookings, I would do so at the AC website, not through a third party. Why? Because if irrops happen one can deal directly with the airline rather than via the third party.

With respect to ticket payment, I would pay for them myself then deal with the family after the fact. Making one booking will mean that everyone will travel on one PNR (passenger name record, aka locator code, aka confirmation number) so that OLCI (on line check in) will be easy, and those who need to do so can use the MMB (manage my booking) function at the AC website can do so with a single reference.

Switch off the phone, tell everyone you need 30 minutes of peace and quiet, settle down at the computer and start the process. Make a dummy booking first - go as far as the payment page and then let it go - to go through the process and then get stuck in for the real deal.

If you book flights for three or four people it won't be cheap, and you may well get a phone call from your credit card provider asking 'did you really do this?' so be prepared. You will very likely get a Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode page before making the final payment, so be prepared for that, if you've not come across either before.

Yorkshire
posts: 259
reviews: 6
8. Re: Logistical nightmare - booking flights for 10 year old

It may be not that routine because the son is to fly together with a parent onward and as an UM return. The online booking system of AC may or may not allow that and if it does, it may be indeed not straightforward for a not experienced person. Some years ago, I needed to fly somewhere with my daughter, then I swapped with my wife and they returned back together. It was impossible to book that online on the KLM site, but was easily sorted out by phone. As suggested in the reply #1, make a list of who, when and where and phone them or pop in their office.

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 626
9. Re: Logistical nightmare - booking flights for 10 year old

You probably can limit the options somewhat.

You've already picked the airline.

UMs can't be on the last flight of the day.

The UM flight has to be direct.

You probably don't want to put children and Grandma (or me) on the red-eye back from California.

Mid-week can be cheaper, but not always.

Credit card companies can get excited at multiple purchases from the same place but you can call and warn them or use multiple different cards.

Kitchener
posts: 3
reviews: 1
10. Re: Logistical nightmare - booking flights for 10 year old

Thanks! This was the difficulty I was experiencing...the UM booking cannot be done online. So flying out of Buffalo is fine, but the two UM's would be flying back on Air Canada so that has to be done over the phone.

Once I get the finances sorted, I now have a better understanding of what I'm up against when I attempt to do this.

Thanks so much for the great info. This really helps!