Unaccompanied minors – children flying safely solo

boy in air suspended by bungee cords

Image credit: Adadahass 2008

Most of the major airlines other than the cheapies accept unaccompanied minors.  The number of unaccompanied minors permitted on a flight is limited by aviation regulations and depends on how many flight attendants are available to keep an eye on the children.  It is not always guaranteed that the request will be confirmed.

Airline requirements for unaccompanied minors

A ticket will never be issued until the request has been confirmed.  If you are making the booking yourself rather make the booking over the phone, in preference to online, to ensure that the payment will only be made once the request has been confirmed.  If you do it online without doing this, the likelihood is that your child would not be permitted to check in, let alone board.

Some low cost carriers do not accept unaccompanied minors.  Check with the airline to find out if they do.

What sort of information will the airline require to process an unaccompanied minor request?

  • Age
  • Language
  • Name that they are known by (if different to that on the passport, eg Kate where name on passport is Katherine)
  • Contact details of the person accompanying the child to check-in and contact details of the person coming to collect at the final destination.  This must include telephone number and home address.

Confirmation of a request to book for an unaccompanied minor will take between 24 and 48 hours.

Most airlines are very strict about who comes to collect the child.  It cannot be anyone other than the person whose details were given initially.  The person will need to bring suitable photo identification with them, such as a passport.

Who is classified as an unaccompanied minor?

For most airlines anyone under the age of sixteen who is not travelling with a responsible person (usually a parent) is an unaccompanied minor.

Child fares

Child fares are only applicable to the age of eleven, after which an adult fare applies.  Adult fares also frequently apply to domestic journeys, particularly on low cost carriers or budget airlines.  Taxes however, are always the same for adults and children.

Unaccompanied minor fares are slightly more than for accompanied children.  Where the average child fare is usually between 67 – 75% of the adult fare, for the same child travelling unaccompanied the airline may decide to charge 90% of the adult fare.

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