Tuesday, December 1, 2015

If all U.S.
airlines opted for a similar
program, it could be life-changing for parents.
If you think traveling as a family is stressful, consider
this: each year, industry experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of
children travel unaccompanied, carrying a risk of getting stranded on a long
delay or even getting sent off to the wrong destination.
But Air New Zealand
is offering a service to help keep parents' worst fears at bay: they're
giving unaccompanied minors wristbands that track their progress through the
airport, alerting parents when their kids have passed security, reached the
gate, and boarded the plane.
We can't imagine too many parents will be sending their kids solo to New
Zealand (in most cases minors aren't allowed to fly alone on connecting
flights, anyway), but the Kiwi carrier's idea ought to serve as a template
for airlines this side of the Atlantic.
In fact, Delta has recently debuted a
similar service of their own: the carrier quietly introduced barcode bracelets
for unaccompanied minors as part of a growing effort to enhance safety for
young travelers.
More airlines should jump aboard soon.
RFID technology exists
widely—it's used everywhere from music festivals to Disney World—and is
an easy way to power these tracking systems.
In fact, many new airport
terminals are already incorporating RFID readers into their designs as a way
to offer passing travelers real-time smartphone notifications about their gate
location or nearby food options.
Given that unaccompanied minor tickets come
with hefty fees (often upwards of $150), airlines would be remiss to ignore
this low-hanging fruit—or to give parents the peace of mind they deserve in
this hyper-connected day and age. Air New Zealand is
offering a service to help keep parents' worst fears at bay: they're
giving unaccompanied minors wristbands that track their progress through the
airport, alerting parents when their kids have passed security, reached the
gate, and boarded the plane.

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