In the event that a child is stranded at the airport overnight despite everyone’s best efforts, different airlines have different procedures, all of which are subject to the approval of the parent or guardian. Usually, the airline will put the child up in a hotel room. An airline staffer may stay in the room with the child or in an adjoining room. Some airlines will post a guard outside the room. In most cases the airline assigns a staffer of the same sex as the child to serve as an escort. Some airlines may turn a stranded child over to a local child welfare agency for the night.
One of the biggest challenges for those in charge of watching children is keeping those children amused. Doing so is particularly difficult in the case of long flights. Many of the larger airlines have established facilities designed for children at major airports, where children can wait for their connecting flights. These rooms have games and other activities for children. They also will have other children, so that young travelers will feel less lonely.
Under no circumstances will airline personnel turn a child over to a waiting adult without seeing definitive identification and matching that carefully to the information filled out on the pre-departure form.