Many family lawyers assist their clients in learning more about long distance parents and about how major airlines unaccompanied minor programs work. While researching the David and Sean Goldman case, I learned about a very helpful Internet tool that allows parents on both ends of the flight to keep track of where their children are in the journey. See Flight Aware at http://flightaware.com/live/flight/XFL5
In an earlier post on this Blog, guest poster Elizabeth Sadowski, Family Law Lawyer in Rochester, Michigan offered the rules from various airlines for having children fly as unaccompanied minors. That was written in early 2008, though, so I recommend checking with the airlines for updates.
To use Flight Aware simply put in your child's airline information such as Flight number, ( tail number in the case of the illustration, which was a charter flight from Rio to Orlando on December 24, 2009) and destination into Flight Aware's database.
I suggest that those with very young children or nervous stomachs use a direct flight. The airlines will allow you to walk the child to the plane. The other parent will be allowed to go through security in the destination city to pick the child up at the door of the jetway after the plane lands.