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.