Airline Rules and Tips for Unaccompanied Minors

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Unaccompanied Minors
(Children Travelling Alone)

Whether travelling to visit family, for school, or any other reasons, children may have to travel alone. Our guide will help you to not only find out what the unaccompanied minors policies are, but also offers tips on how you can help an unaccompanied minor to travel.

Important Notice - May 2019

In May 2019, in order to negate the threat of child trafficking, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration in Namibia changed the laws of travelling as a child. See our Air Namibia page if you're a parent/guardian travelling with a child.

Travelling as an Unaccompanied minor to and from Namibia

All unaccompanied minors must provide a number of different documents in order for them to be allowed to travel. These include:

  • Proof of consent for a parent or legal guardian (in the form of a letter or affidavit)
  • A letter from the person(s) who is collecting and accommodating the child. This letter must include the address of where the child will be staying and details on how to contact the address
  • A copy of ID or a valid passport and visa/permanent residence permit of the person collecting and accommodating the child
  • Contact details of the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the child

 

What is the minimum age to fly alone?

This will depend on the airline, but the absolute minimum age for flying alone is 5 years old. This will vary by airline; many of which offering this service from the age of 8. Please see below for more specific information for each airline.

Which airlines allow unaccompanied minors to fly?

Airlines that let minors (children) fly alone include:

- Air Canada

- Alaska Airlines

- American Airlines

- British Airways

- Delta Air Lines

- Frontier Airlines

- Hawaiian Airlines

- Icelandair

- JetBlue

- Norwegian Air

- Porter Airlines

- Southwest Airlines

- United

- WestJet

- WOW air

 


Air Canada

Minimum age

The minimum age for unaccompanied minors for Air Canada is 8. Children under 8 years of age cannot travel alone on Air Canada flights.

Unaccompanied passengers aged 8 to 11 years must have the Unaccompanied Minors (UM) service purchased for them.

For passengers aged 12 to 17 years, the Unaccompanied Minors (UM) service is optional.

Flight restrictions

The Air Canada Unaccompanied Minors (UM) service is available on non-stop flights only, for Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge, or for Air Canada Express flight operated by Jazz, Sky Regional, Air Georgian GX (Flight series 7350-7499, or Exploits Valley Air 8K - Flight series 7615-7649)

The Unaccompanied Minors (UM) service cannot be purchased for connecting flights or codeshare flights.

Unaccompanied Minors (UM) cannot travel with a pet in the cabin.

Only passengers aged 16 years or over can act as accompanying adults for minors of 12 years and under.

Is an escort service offered?

Yes, the Air Canada Unaccompanied Minors (UM) service includes a member of staff escorting the children and young people from the check-in area to their destination.


Alaska Airlines

Minimum age

The minimum age for unaccompanied minors for Alaska Airlines is 5, and this is for non-stop flights only. Children under 5 years of age cannot travel alone on Alaska Airlines flights.

Passengers between 8 and 12 years of age can travel alone on non-stop and connecting flights.

Flight restrictions

Unaccompanied Minors cannot begin their travel between 9pm and 5am.


American Airlines

Minimum age

The minimum age for unaccompanied minors for American Airlines is 5, and this is for non-stop and direct flights only. Children under 5 years of age cannot travel alone on American Airlines flights.

Passengers between 8 and 12 years of age can travel alone on non-stop and direct flights, as well as connecting flights through Charlotte, NC (CLT), Washington Reagan, D.C. (DCA), Dallas-Forth Worth, TX (DFW), New York, NY (JFK and LGA), Los Angeles, CA (LAX), Miami, FL (MIA), Chicago, IL (ORD), Philadelphia, PA (PHL) and Phoenix, AZ (PHX).

Flight restrictions

American Airlines do not accept unaccompanied minors where their flights include:

The last flight of the day (unless it is the only scheduled flight offered for that route)

Overnight connecting flights (unless it is the only scheduled flight offered for that route)

Connections to and from other airlines, including oneworld alliance and codeshare partners

Ground/co-terminal connections


British Airways

Minimum age

The minimum age for unaccompanied minors for British Airways is 6, and the Openskies Solo Flyer service must be purchased for these passengers.

For passengers between the ages of 12 and 17 years, the Openskies Solo Flyer service is optional.

Children under the age of 5 cannot travel alone on British Airways flights.

Flight restrictions

The Openskies Solo Flyer service is only available for flights departing from the U.S. or France.

Is an escort service offered on British Airways flights?

Yes, the Openskies Solo Flyer service includes an escort by Openskies staff throughout the service user’s journey.


Delta Air Lines

Minimum age

The Delta Air Lines Unaccompanied Minor service is required for all children aged 5-14 years old when not travelling in the same compartment with an adult of at least 18 years of age, or the child’s parent/guardian.

Young children under the age of 5 cannot fly unaccompanied on Delta Air Lines flights.

Children between the ages of 5 and 7 can fly using the Unaccompanied Minor service on nonstop flights only.

Children between the ages of 8 and 14 can fly on nonstop or connecting flights, but may only connect to other Delta, Delta Connection (excluding AA Eagle), and Air France flights.

Children between the ages of 15 and 17 are not required to use the Unaccompanied Minor service, however, Delta will provide this service when requested.

Flight restrictions

Unaccompanied minors cannot be booked onto the last connecting flight of the evening, nor are they permitted on red eye flights, with exceptions for:

International flights

Flights to or from Alaska or Hawaii

Markets with only one connection that is the last flight of the day

Domestic short haul flights (non stop, 2 hours or less)

Is an escort service offered?

Yes. Before the flight a Delta Air Lines employee will take the unaccompanied minor onto the plane and spend time helping them to familiarise with the attendants, crew and the aircraft itself.

Regarding transfers, a Delta employee will meet the child’s arriving flight; if the connection time is short then the escort will take the child directly to the connecting departure and escort them on-board. If the layover is longer, the child will be taken to a secure location such as the Delta Sky Zone, and turn the ticket and Unaccompanied Minor over to the next Delta Air Lines employee in the room, and then the child’s onward travel would then be as a regular flight.


Frontier Airlines

Minimum age

The Frontier Airlines unaccompanied minors service is available for children between the ages of 5 and 17. Passengers aged between 15 and 17 do not need the unaccompanied minors service, but if requested can be provided with it. Frontier Airlines does not accept unaccompanied minors less than 5 years old.

Flight restrictions

Unaccompanied minors can only travel on nonstop Frontier Airlines flights.

Is an escort service offered?

The Frontier Airlines unaccompanied minors service includes hand off from gate agent to flight attendant, flight attendant oversight, and hand-off from flight attendant to gate attendant, as well as gate agent oversight for as long as the unaccompanied minor is not picked up by the allocated guardian.


Hawaiian Airlines

Minimum age

Hawaiian Airlines offer an Unaccompanied Minor service to children between the ages of 5 and 11.

Flight restrictions

Unaccompanied minors cannot fly on:

International Flights (including those to and from American Samoa)

Flights departing between 9pm and 5am (unless the flight operates out of Honolulu and is the only flight of the day)

Any codeshare flights

Connecting flights to or from another carrier (apart from connecting on flights between Hawaiian Airlines and 'Ohana by Hawaiian operated by Empire Airlines)

Certain Hawaiian Airlines to Hawaiian Airlines connecting flights (such as the last connecting flight of the day, or where the connection time is longer than 2 hours)


Icelandair

Minimum age

Icelandair offer an Unaccompanied Minor service for children between 5 and 11 years of age who are not accompanied by another passenger of 12 years of age or older with the same reservation status and capable of taking full responsibility for the child. The service is also available or 12-15 year old passengers on an optional basis.

Flight restrictions

There is a maximum of 4 unaccompanied minors to be carried on each flight. Unaccompanied minors can only travel on nonstop Icelandair flights - not codeshare and other partner flights.


JetBlue

Minimum age

Passengers aged between 5 and 13 (inclusive) and travelling alone are considered by JetBlue as unaccompanied minors. A child must have reached their 5th birthday prior to travel to be able to travel as an unaccompanied minor, and those children who have reached their 14th birthday and is travelling alone, is not considered an unaccompanied minor unless additional assistance has been requested.

Flight restrictions

Unaccompanied minors can only travel on nonstop flights - they are not permitted on connecting flights, direct flights, or in Mint seats.

Unaccompanied minors cannot travel with an infant between the ages of 3 days and two years, or a child between 2 and 4 years of age.

There are additional restrictions and permissions for flying between the US and other countries such as Costa Rica, Colombia, and Bermuda, for example, so if the unaccompanied minor is flying internationally, it is the responsibility of the person booking the service to check with the airline whether there are additional requirements.


Norwegian Air

Minimum age

Norwegian Air offers an unaccompanied minors service for children aged between 5 and 15 years. Children under 5 years of age are too young to travel using the Norwegian Air unaccompanied minors service, and children over 15 years of age need to travel as an adult.

It is mandatory that children between the ages of 5 and 11 years travel as an unaccompanied minor (if they are travelling alone or without an adult aged 16 years or older). For children between the ages of 12 and 15, the Norwegian Air unaccompanied minors service is optional, however, if the service is not booked for children in this age group, it is advised that documentation stating who will pick them up at the destination airport, their accommodation and contact information for parents/legal guardians is brought with them.

Flight restrictions

The Norwegian Air unaccompanied minors service is not available for connecting flights.


Porter Airlines

Minimum age

Porter Airlines offers and unaccompanied minors service for children aged between 8 and 17 years inclusively. For children aged 8-11, the Porter Airlines unaccompanied minors service is mandatory, however, the service is optional for passengers aged 12-17 years.

Flight restrictions

The Porter Airlines unaccompanied minors service is not available on interline, connecting, or through flights (flights with a stop-over).

There is a maximum number of 4 unaccompanied minors accommodated per flights.

Unaccompanied minors cannot travel with pets, and the service will not be provided under extreme weather conditions or during labour disruption.


Southwest Airlines

Minimum age

The Southwest Airlines unaccompanied minors service is available for children aged from 5 to 11 years, and the service is mandatory for this kind of passenger.

Flight restrictions

The unaccompanied minors service is only available on non-stop and direct flights on Southwest Airlines, and is not available for flights to and from international destinations. If there is bad weather, or there are operational disruptions, then the service may be cancelled by the airline.


Spirit Airlines

Minimum age

The Spirit Airlines unaccompanied minors service is available on domestic (including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands) direct flights. The service is mandatory for children aged between 5 and 14; children aged 4 years and younger may not travel alone, and those aged 15 and over are not required to have the unaccompanied minor service.

Flight restrictions

Unaccompanied minors are not allowed to travel on international flights.


United Airlines

Minimum age

The United Airlines unaccompanied minors service is mandatory for children aged between 5 and 14 years (inclusive).

Flight restrictions

Unaccompanied minors can only fly on nonstop flights operated by United or United Express. Unaccompanied minors cannot fly on codeshare flights or other flights operated by United partner airlines.


WestJet

Minimum age

Westjet offer a mandatory unaccompanied minors service for children aged between 8 and 12 years, and an optional service for 12 to 18 year olds.

Flight restrictions

Flights for unaccompanied minors are only for travel between two Canadian cities and not on international flights (including to the US).

The flight must be a WestJet flight, and cannot be used on flights operated by WestJet travel partners

The flight must not require a connection to a different flight

The flight must not depart before 5.30am or arrive after 10pm (unless it is the only scheduled flight to that destination that day)

The flight must not be a red eye flight - ie one that takes place overnight


WOW air

Minimum age

WOW air offers an unaccompanied minors service for children aged 5 to 17 years inclusive. Children under the age of 5 cannot travel as unaccompanied minors or alone on WOW air flights. Children aged between 5 and 11 can travel as unaccompanied minors on WOW air flights as long as this is registered at time of booking and the appropriate procedures have been carried out.

Children aged between 12 and 17 can travel alone, without the unaccompanied minors service, however, it is available as and when necessary. Unaccompanied children in this age group cannot act as another child’s guardian on a flight.

Flight restrictions

The WOW air unaccompanied minors service is not available on connecting flights between North America and Europe. Children aged 16 and older can travel alone on these flights, however, those aged 15 cannot travel alone.

Unaccompanied Minors Travel Tips

What to Pack for Unaccompanied Minors

It is really important to ensure that the unaccompanied minor has what they need for their trip. Here are a few suggestions of what to pack for them:

- Mobile phone

- Prepaid card

- Contact information

- Photographs

- Copy of passport and other ID

- Medication

- Details of the schedule for the day(s)

- Snacks

- Entertainment

What to do before the flight

Here are some tips to help you ensure that an unaccompanied minor is fully prepared for their journey:

- Contact your carrier in advance to ensure all information, guidelines, etc are clarified

- Try to book a morning flight

- Write out the details

- Provide the right information

- Familiarise your child with the itinerary

- Make smart clothing choices

- Choose the right luggage

- Arrive to the airport early

- Inform the flight attendants and airline staff

- Get confirmation from your child as and when you can

Best Airlines for Unaccompanied Minors

Air Europa

  • Can travel from aged 5 years and up
  • Can travel to most international destinations
  • Children's meals available 
  • Person to accompany the child (depending on destination)

British Airways

  • Free kids meal in-flight
  • Free kids entertainment in-flight

easyJet

  • Kids snack pack available
  • Puzzles and games provided 

KLM

  • Can travel from aged 5 and up
  • Can travel to most national and international destinations
  • Junior jet lounge available with food, computer games, films, books and toys