I call into Bob Sirott’s Morning Drive on WGN Radio regularly to give my travel tips and when I do, I usually get a lot of questions from listeners via email or Twitter. I’m always happy to help (though sometimes it takes me a while) but here’s one I thought was interesting to share. I called into Monday’s show and I received this kind email from Mike R:

“I appreciate your information when you guest on WGN, Chicago. I’m an avid listener to your program on the radio. Great program. Anyway, my daughter will be traveling alone from Chicago to Denver in a couple of weeks. She’ll have a five year old and two three year old twins. She and I are both worried about how she’s going to traverse the airport with her kids. She’s traveling Southwest out of Midway. When she contacted the airline and asked if any help could be provided, they said they couldn’t provide any assistance unless she were disabled. Any ideas?

Thanks for the kind words. Yeah, the airlines don’t help but if you’re willing to pay there’s usually a concierge service from a third party that will. But she could just ask some strangers around her to help with the bags when boarding. Especially, after traveling with my little ones, I know how difficult it can be even with my wife. So whenever I see a single parent boarding, I always offer my assistance. I know I’ve been on the receiving and giving end multiple times.

Follow-up question:
Thanks for your help. Is there any way my wife can get through security with my daughter and the kids if she doesn’t have a boarding pass, in order to help her get to her gate?

Follow-up answer:
The airlines will sometimes offer a gate pass but it depends on the agent. However, a way to guarantee your wife can go with her is to book a fully refundable fare or a regular fare and use the credit later for either the same flight or for one departing a few hours later so she gets a boarding pass and then can cancel the ticket before the flight takes off. Just find out what the cancellation rules are. 

Mike’s reply:
Thank you so much! Now there’s an idea and a possibility.

Like I said, traveling with kids can be difficult, even when you have the help of a spouse, partner or friend. And traveling with an elderly person can be hard, too, as I’ve experienced many times traveling with my dad. This tip is helpful if you’re desperate and can’t find any assistance from the airline itself or a concierge service. The airlines obviously don’t like you doing this and there could be repercussions, like taking your miles away, but that would likely only happen if you did it more than once.

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