Can my child fly alone? We explain what’s meant by Unaccompanied Minors

  • 04 May, 2023
  • Alice Fowler
  • 269 Comments

child on plane

There are plenty of reasons for children to need to fly alone these days, from going to visit relatives abroad without parents, to logistics surrounding school terms finishing at different times. It is important to note that children flying alone are usually called “Unaccompanied Minors” and that each airline sets its own rules and regulations regarding these. Ages, prices, and routes allowed are all variable.

Headteachers now have the power to set their own holiday schedules for their schools, which can result in more schools having different term dates to each other; a problem for parents with children in different establishments!

This might result in an increase of children flying alone to join their family on holiday, or going out to stay with relatives or friends.

Of course, there are many other reasons for children needing to fly alone, so we’ve compiled the information you need to know before waving goodbye at the airport! Many airlines offer these services, from United Airlines, to Lufthansa, to Qantas and ANA. KLM even have a dedicated lounge at Amsterdam Airport!

Unaccompanied minors info

Before you book

We suggest that you thoroughly research the airline and destination that you are planning to use for your child as many airlines will not accept unaccompanied minors on routes that require a connecting flight or stop over such as Alaska Airlines (5-7 year olds), JetBlue and Norwegian. Virgin Atlantic allow this, however only if the connection is to or from another Virgin flight.

Some even have restrictions regarding the time of the flight – for instance, unaccompanied minors are may not be permitted on the last flight of the day to certain locations.

If you are flying from America, ensure your airline allows children on international flights, for example South West Airlines only allow domestic trips.

In some cases the budget airlines, such as EasyJet, WizzAir and Ryanair, do not allow children under 14 (under 16 for Ryanair) to fly alone at all. The age that a child is classed as an adult by the airline varies as well, so it is really important to double check this if you have two children flying together.

You can find a list of airlines and their policies that we have compiled at the end of this blog.

Using the services

Throughout most airlines, the service generally works in a similar way. You will have to book it separately in most cases, sometimes online and sometimes through their offices.  You will probably need to fill out some paperwork, which will include all the information the airline need to know about the child, as well as information about the parents and of whomever is collecting the child at the destination.

How Old Do You Have To Be To Fly Alone?

Children between 5 and 12 years old

Please be aware that most airlines will not allow a child under 5 to fly without someone over the age of at least 16.

At the airport, you can accompany your child whilst they check in, at which point they will be assigned a member of staff who will oversee the whole process.

In some cases, you can be granted a pass to allow you to accompany your child to certain points within the airport; this can vary from just up to security, to right through to the departure gate.

someone with child

If this isn’t available, or an option for you, your child can also be assigned an escort who will guide them through the airport, up until they board the plane. They will then be handed over to a member of the airline crew, usually the lead air steward, and will be overseen throughout the flight. They will then be escorted off the plane and handed over to the adult collecting them, after identification checks to ensure this is the correct person!

12-18 year olds

They may still be able to use the Unaccompanied Minor Service, but may not have the option to be escorted through the airport or monitored on the flight. This does differ with each airline, so just double check what their packages include!

It can also mean that they will be responsible for their travel in the same way in which an adult would –  checking in, dealing with flight delays and getting through security – so make you they are well prepared and know what to expect!

Cost

The price of a ticket can vary vastly; from a discounted rate to a full adult fare. Don’t forget, you may also be subject to an additional fee, too – in some cases, this can be upwards of £130 (if this is the case, be sure to check whether this is each way!).

Always check with the airline before you book, and be sure to do some comparisons across different airlines for the best deals.

Children flying alone – Airline Unaccompanied Minors Policies

Air France

Name of Service KIDS SOLO
Age Restrictions
  • For 4 – 11 years old, who may be travelling within metropolitan France, to & from overseas France*, or on a flight within the Caribbean**, they’ll be required to travel as Unaccompanied Minors. They benefit from the Kids Solo service which is included in the ticket price.
  • For 5 – 14 years old, if they’re travelling on an international flight, they must travel as Unaccompanied Minors.
  • For 12 – 17 years old who are either travelling within metropolitan France, to & from overseas France, or on a flight within the Caribbean, will have to travel as Unaccompanied Minors.
  • For 15 – 17 years old, who are travelling alone, they can receive Air France assistance upon request, they’ll benefit from the Kids Solo service but it is a chargeable service.

*Cayenne, Fort-de-France, Saint-Denis de la Réunion, Papeete, Pointe-à-Pitre and Saint Martin. For Noumea, the children have to be aged 5 – 11.
**Cayenne, Fort de France, Pointe-à-Pitre and Port au Prince

Additional Information With Kids Solo, you can track your child’s route in the app! In the case of a delayed or cancelled flight, your child will be accompanied by a staff member till they either board the flight or incase of cancellation, they need to be picked up. The parents will be notified instantly
Prices
  • For children aged 12 – 17 years old, the service is optional but your child can still use but they will be charged for this. The charge will depend on where you’re travelling from.
  • For 5 – 14 years old, if they’re travelling on an international flight, they must travel as Unaccompanied Minors.
  • For 12 – 17 years old who are either travelling within metropolitan France, to & from overseas France, or on a flight within the Caribbean, will have to travel as Unaccompanied Minors.
  • For 15 – 17 years old, who are travelling alone, they can receive Air France assistance upon request, they’ll benefit from the Kids Solo service but it is a chargeable service

Alaska Airlines

Name of Service Unaccompanied Minor Service
Age Restrictions
  • For 5-17 year olds – No departures between 9pm and 5am.
  • For 5-7 year olds – No connections.
  • For 8-12 year olds – no connections to the last flight of the day or more than 2 hours stopover.
Additional Information Service is available on domestic and international flights
Prices
  • 5-7 year olds – $50 USD/CAD each way per child
  • 8-17 year olds – $50 USD/CAD each way per child for non-stop/direct flights,$75 USD/CAD each way per child for connecting flights

American Airlines

Name of Service Unaccompanied Minor Service
Age Restrictions
  • Ages 2 – 4 must be accompanied by adult over age of 16.
  • Ages 5-7 require the service and can only travel on non-stop or direct flights. You’re also required a guardian to escort you to the gate. 
  • Ages 8-14 require the service and can travel on direct flights as well as journeys that connect through the following airports: CLT, DCA, DFW, JFK, LGA, LAX, MIA, ORD, PHL, PHX. You’re also required a guardian to escort you to the gate.
  • 15-17 year olds are not required to use the service but can request it. But they’ll still be required a guardian to escort them to the gate. They can travel on direct flights as well as journeys that connect through the following airports: CLT, DCA, DFW, JFK, LGA, LAX, MIA, ORD, PHL, PHX.
Additional Information
  • Unaccompanied minors cannot travel on the last scheduled flight of the day from the connection city, and their journey cannot include any overnight connecting flights.
  • Anyone travelling internationally under 18 may need to present a Letter of Consent.
Prices $150 surcharge plus tax each way if you want to use unaccompanied minor service, plus the adult fare. However, if there are 2 unaccompanied minors but they belong to the same family and are travelling on the same flight as well, they won’t be charged the fee twice. They will only pay the $150 surcharge plus taxes.

British Airways

Name of Service None
Age Restrictions
  • Only children above the age of 14 years old may travel alone on British Airways. Any child under the age of 14 wishing to fly will need to be accompanied by someone over the age of 16 years old.
  • Although, SUN-AIR is an exception. If you’re flying with them, children from the ages of 5-11 years old can travel alone but the airline needs to be aware of this beforehand.
  • Children over 12 can travel alone but they do have the option of SUN-AIR Unaccompanied Service, should they require it.
Additional Information British Airways have removed their Unaccompanied Minors Service as of May 2018. No assistance will be given to those flying alone.
Prices Children will have to travel as an adult, and therefore the cost is the price of their adult ticket.

easyJet

Name of Service None
Age Restrictions
  • 14 days – 2 years are only allowed to fly with an adult
  • 2 – 15 years old cannot travel unless they are accompanied by an adult who is at least 16 years old and who will take full responsibility for them. If there’s no accompanying adult, they’re not allowed to travel by themselves because easyJet doesn’t provide an unaccompanied service.
Additional Information N/A
Prices N/A

Emirates

Name of Service Unaccompanied Minors
Age Restrictions
  • Children above 5 and under 11 years of age must use the unaccompanied minor service. This also applies to children under 8 that are travelling in a different cabin from their parents.
  • This also applies to children under 8 who are travelling in a different cabin from their parents
  • Children between 12 – 15 years old that are travelling alone can also use this service on request.
Additional Information There are lounges available especially for unaccompanied children, it’s near the check in area.
Prices
  • For children aged between 5 – 12, you’d have to pay an adult fare and the service will be included in the ticket price.
  • For children between 12 – 15 years old, they will still have to pay the adult price. But if they want to use the Unaccompanied Minor service, they will have to $50 each way

Iberia

Name of Service Minor Companion Service
Age Restrictions
  • 5 – 11 years old – They must book this service as it is mandatory for them. This also applies to children who may be travelling in a different cabin from their parents
  • 12 – 17 – They have the option of booking this service should they wish it. Unless they’re departing from Italy, in which case, it is mandatory that to use this service if you’re under 14 years old.
Additional Information
  • It is recommended that you book in advance as seats of this kind can be limited.
  • This service is available for transfers as well but there is an extra fee for that.
Prices Domestic flights – £40

  • Europe, the Canary Islands, the Middle East and North Africa – £65
  • America, South Africa and Asia – £110

Flights with transfers:

  • Domestic flights – £65
  • Europe, the Canary Islands, the Middle East and North Africa – £90
  • America, South Africa and Asia – £135

Lufthansa

Name of Service Unaccompanied Minors
Age Restrictions
  • Ages 5 – 11 can only fly alone if using the service or flying with someone over 12.
  • Ages 12-17 don’t have to use the service but can request it.
Additional Information
  • Partner airlines may vary.
  • Cannot be booked online.
Prices Price of the flight with an additional surcharge:

  • Europe – £75
  • North Africa & the Levant – £85
  • Middle East, Central Africa and the Arab region – £100
  • Medium-haul Intercontinental flights – £110
  • Long-haul Intercontinental flights – £130

Qatar

Name of Service Escort service
Age Restrictions
  • 0 – 5 years old – the service is not available
  • 5 – 15 years old – the service is available
Additional Information
  • Must be booked through the office and 72 hours prior.
  • An adult fare will be charged for the child.
Prices Return fare will be charged for the airline representative

RyanAir

Name of Service N/A
Age Restrictions Children under the age of 16 years oldmust always be accompanied by a passenger over 16 years.
Additional Information N/A
Prices N/A

Southwest Airlines

Name of Service Unaccompanied Minors service
Age Restrictions Ages 5-11 – Must use South West’s Unaccompanied Minor service unless accompanied by someone else over the age of 12 years old.
Additional Information Can only fly on nonstop or direct domestic flights, and not on international flights.
Prices $50 each way

Turkish Airlines

Name of Service N/A
Age Restrictions
  • 2 – 7 years old – must be under supervision of one of the cabin staff
  • 7 – 12 years old – they may travel alone
Additional Information
  • Unaccompanied Minor Declaration Forms are required to be filled in at the check-in counters and must be signed by parents or guardians.
  • If you would like your child to be accompanied by a cabin crew, you must make the request at least 48 hours in advance.
Prices There is a charge for using the service, contact the airline directly to find out more

United Airlines

Name of Service Unaccompanied Minor Service
Age Restrictions
  • Ages 5-14 – must use unaccompanied minor service
  • 15 years old or over – they don’t have to use the service but can use it upon request.
Additional Information They can only travel on nonstop flights which are operated by either United or United Express
Prices 150 USD on top of flight price for any destination, each way. If there are two siblings travelling, they’ll be charged the price for one.


A full list of airline policies can be found here


How to apply for unaccompanied minors service?



process for parents

About Alice Fowler

I love to travel and working in the airport parking world for nearly a decade has given me inside out knowledge of the industry. I love to help travellers get the best out of their trip, and their journey to the airport is an important part of that. Whether it's using our data to spot trends and pinpoint when people can save money, or opening the lid on airport parking tips and tricks, if it helps our customers, I'll write about it!

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269 responses to “Can my child fly alone? We explain what’s meant by Unaccompanied Minors”

  1. HI, I just wanted to double check the situation for 16 year olds.

    MY daughter (aged 16) is flying out to France on her own – with Ryanair. I can see from the airlines perspective that she is OK to fly unaccompanied. But someone has mentioned that you need to be 18 to fly out of France. Does that apply to UK citizens on a trip, or just to French Citizens?

    • Hi Kevin,

      Our guess is if the airline are ok for her to fly as a UK Citizen, she should be ok. If you are still worried, perhaps speak to the appropriate authority in France? Even just speaking to the airport will give you a better idea

  2. my daughter will be travelling to A Caruna in Spain from Heathrow, London on her own for 1 week. She will be staying with a Spanish family who will be meeting her and taking her back to the airport. She is flying with Vueling, and I bought her ticket through Iberia website & bought an adult ticket as she will have just turned 15.What paperwork does she need and where do I get it from? Also I’m a single parent and she doesn’t stay with her father, but he is named on her birth certificate-does he need to sign consent too?

  3. Hey, my daughter is 13 and is planning to fly from Cardiff to Belfast to meet a friend. I was wondering what are the rules and regulations if she was to fly with Flybe (the only flight operators which fly this route) and what documentation would she need to travel?

  4. Hi!

    My daughter is traveling from Romania to US. She is a Moldovan citizen, she is 17 and she is also a free card holder. She was visiting her dad in Moldova and now has to come back to US for the school year. I, her mom, live in the US. To visit her dad she landed in Romania.

    We returned one ticket that we bought from Moldova, because according to Moldovan law, she cannot leave the country, unless the flight is direct and she has an accompanying adult.

    There is no direct flight available, and I am trying to find out how she can leave from Romania alone or accompanied.

    According to Romanian law only Romanian minors cannot leave unless they are 18 unaccompanied, but it says nothing about foreign monies and green card holders.

    Than you for any info

    • Hi Mary

      We don’t have any information for such a specific case; we’d suggest contacting the relevant authority in Romania for further clarification

  5. Hello Franki, my sister and I live in London and she wants to travel to Madrid Spain to visit our Mother, she is 12years old and i was woundering what tipes of documents, letters, permitions does she need to travel and join my mother?and does she need and does she need someone to scort her?, thank you,

    • Hi Leticia

      It will depend on whether she travels with you or on her own, If you travel together and have the same surname, you be fine, If you’re travelling together but have different surnames to one another, read our other article here: https://www.airport-parking-shop.co.uk/blog/travelling-with-a-child-with-a-different-surname/

      If she will be travelling alone, you will need to look into the airlines that fly from your chosen airport to Madrid and look into their Unaccompanied Minor programme. In most cases, she will need to have a named guardian hand her to staff at the London Airport and have a named guardian collect her form Madrid Airport.

  6. Hi I have a son in NZ in his 40s who wants his nice to go there for her school holidays from uk Wales for about 6weeks she is only 14 her perants are happy about this is it possible for her to go with help from the a airline

    • Hi there,

      Her parents will need to look into the airlines that fly from Wales to NZ and look into their unaccompanied minors programmes

  7. Hello, I’ve finally been given legal guardianship of my 5-yr old sister. However, she is currently in the UK with our grandparents who live there. I just wanted to inquire if it would be possible for her to fly solo from Heathrow to LA — do you know which airlines allow this, and what documents are needed? Thanks.

    • Hi Daniel

      You will need to find out what airlines fly from Heathrow to your airport in LA and look into their unaccompanied minor programme.

      Airlines that fly direct to LAX from LHR include:
      Virgin Atlantic
      Finnair
      Air New Zealand
      British Airways

      Have a look into their policies to find one that suits you and your sister! Just worth mentioning that unaccompanied minor programmes aren’t usually available on flights with a change over so be sure to opt for a direct flight

  8. Hello, I am flying from Luton airport to Lithuania and I am 15 years old, what kind of documents do I need to have with me to be able to go through security?

    • Hi Lily

      It will depend on whether you are travelling as an unaccompanied minor or not. If you are, you will need to look into the requirements of the airline you plan to travel with

  9. Hi I’m 12 year old I want to go by myself from
    Birmingham to Glasgow but I don’t know what can I do ?

    • Hi Ali,

      Your parent or guardian will need to look into what airlines fly that route and will need to give permission for you to travel alone. You will also need someone to escort you to the airport in Manchester and you’ll need a named adult in Glasgow to collect you. Speak with your parents, have a look into some airlines and go from there

  10. hi, my daughters 14 and we know all flights are ok for her age and that Manchester airport is going to be fine. My only concern is if Alicante airport will let her through security and passport control ect without any issues. is there any way you could help inform us? Thankyou.

    • Hi Keira

      If your daughter is flying under an unaccompanied minor programme, all these details will be covered. If not and you are unsure on the process at Alicante Airport, we suggest you contact them for advice

  11. I want to fly to to a trip in London (from Israel) with a friend next summer. We will both be 15 by then. Do we need any special documents to do that (to fly and travel by ourselves)?

  12. Hello..
    I’m from Germany, im 14 years old, and I wanna fly alone to India, I need parents sing, permission ?

  13. My daughter is 17 and wants to go to tangiers with her boyfriend. Will they be allowed into the country

    • Hi Gillaine

      Most airlines consider 17yr olds adults so I’m sure they’ll be fine to enter the country

  14. Hi, my 4 year ok son who is British will be travelling from Strasbourg airport (France), to London Stansted, with my 17 year old sister who is French. They will be using Ryanair which I know is fine for them to travel on together, but I’m not sure what documents I need to provide for my son seeing as they do not have the same name and they have different nationalities. Help please.

  15. Can my mom escort me to the gate even if the airline doesn’t have a minor service for 14 year old or does it depend on the airlines policy

    • Hi Alex,

      It will depend on both the airline and the airport policy so best to check with them both

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