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Unaccompanied MinorsChildren between five and 12 who travel without a parent or guardian are known as "unaccompanied minors." Many airlines will not allow children who are under seven to make connections at all, but in the event a minor is old enough to change planes, they will probably be assisted by airline personnel for a fee.
If you send an unaccompanied minor by plane, you will be required to fill out a form detailing the child's name, age, medical considerations and other relevant information. Upon arrival, children will be escorted from the aircraft by a flight attendant and released to the person named by you prior to departure. In addition, you will have to agree that the airline is not taking on any special responsibility of guardianship during the flight. Legally, an unaccompanied minor is treated in the same way as an adult passenger.
What It Will Cost YouMost major airlines will charge you $30-$60 each way for an escort fee. This will depend on the airline and the age of the of the child, please check with the airline directly regarding any fees they may charge before booking your flights.
General Age Guidelines:Airline rules vary but this will give you a good idea of what to expect on domestic flights:
Children ages 1-4 may fly only when accompanied by a caretaker who is at least 12 years old. A child must be at least five to fly alone.
Kids 5-8 can take a direct flight to a single destination but not connecting flights.
Those over eight may change aircraft. If they're 8-11, they will be escorted by airline personnel to their connecting flight. An extra charge for this service is likely. Older kids - ages 12 through 15 - may not be routinely escorted, but you can request this assistance.
Anyone under age 17 who is flying alone on an international flight must have a signed note from a parent or responsible adult giving permission, destination and length of stay.
Minors must be met at the destination by another parent or responsible adult.
As these guidelines vary slightly by airline, be sure to contact your carrier for specific information.
Other Minor DetailsMany airlines offers discounts for minors travel to international destinations. Please check with the agent when you contact us.
On international flights, the age restrictions are more stringent. Additional fees may apply if a flight is longer than six hours in duration.
Your child must be brought to the airport of departure by an adult who will remain with the child until he or she boards the pane, and will remain in the airport until takeoff.
Tips For Smooth Sailing
- Never wait until you have reached the airport to inform the airline that you have a minor traveling unaccompanied. Always provide this information to the reservationist over the phone, and have them inform you of all your options, all fees involves, and so forth.
- If you can help it, fly only nonstop, so that your child does not need to change planes. If a change of planes is necessary, use a small, less intimidating airport for the transfer, if possible.
- When you send your child, make sure that he/she is traveling with emergency information. For example, leave instructions on how to handle flight delays or cancellations, including emergency contacts and a means to pay for necessities, such as overnight accommodation.
- Familiarize your child with the plane ticket and have him/her keep it in a safe place. Upon departure, the child will need to retain the ticket for the return flight or as a receipt.
- Try to book a morning flight. If it is delayed or canceled, you have the rest of the day to make alternate plans. A minor is never allowed on the last flight of the day between two cities.
- Small children may have trouble with checked baggage. If it can be avoided, don't send them with excess luggage. If not, when checking luggage, make sure to check the stubs yourself, to be sure that the luggage claim ticket and luggage tag match your child's final destination.
- Get to the airport early to ease check-in and get children accustomed to their surroundings. Show them where help desks are located, and get them to recognize uniformed employees.
- Give them a picture of the person meeting them -- with the full name, address and phone number written on the back. You will need to provide this information to the airline as well.
- Pack some snacks for the child: juice boxes, chips, sandwiches, trail mix or other finger foods like grapes or berries.
- Give your child a little cash to cover incidental expenses and phone calls in the event of an emergency.
- In addition to being sure your child knows how to place a collect call, you may want to give him/her a calling card before she travels, as well as a list of numbers to call if necessary.
- Some carriers require travelers to present the credit card they used to purchase the ticket online. If you are thinking about purchasing a ticket for a friend or relative who does not have access to your credit card, please call and check with the airline about their specific requirements. Note about E-tickets: If your reservation is not eligible for an E-ticket, we will issue a paper ticket and mail it to you. In the event a paper is issued and mailed, a FedEx shipping charge of $15 will apply.