Airline Policies for Unaccompanied Children

Unaccompanied minor is the term that airlines use for a child who is travelling alone – that is, without a parent, custodian, or another adult whom the child knows. Unaccompanied Minors are common travellers and as such the airlines have unique standard operating procedures to handle such child travellers. Most airlines allow children to fly alone but the rules and restrictions may vary with each airline. It is prudent to be completely aware of all these rules before actually aiming to net those cheap airline tickets for your child.

This concise overview reveals the common restrictions imposed by the airlines before allowing a child to travel alone on an airplane.

Age Limit

Airlines have age of the child as the most important criteria to determine if the child qualifies to travel as an unaccompanied minor, followed by other factors or conditions which must be met before the child can actually commence travel. Generally, airlines describe the unaccompanied minors as children between five and eleven years of age (up to 15 for some extra restrictive airlines).

It is imperative to contact the carrier to ensure if they allow unaccompanied minors and what are the rules governing their travel.

If the child looks more than the maximum age limit set by the airline, one can be asked to furnish proofs confirming the age of the child. So be prepared with authentication documentation before travelling to the airport.

Rules for Older Children

If a child is older that than the maximum age specified by the airline for availing unaccompanied child program then that child can be considered to travel under the program but the child, in that case, will not be able to use special services for unaccompanied children. These services can include having an escort at the airport or being approved to board the aircraft before time.

Restrictions and Requirements

As mentioned earlier, different airlines have different set of rules to govern travel of unaccompanied children. However, below mentioned are some of the most common rules and restrictions that are applied by the carriers.

• Airlines can stipulate that unaccompanied children can fly only on nonstop flights.

• In case the child is required to change aircraft, the minimum age can be moved upwards.

• Unaccompanied children cannot be allowed on the last flight of the day for the destination.

• Unaccompanied children can be asked to check in earlier than normal time.

• Airlines can charge adult fares or extra fees for unaccompanied children.

Of course, an older child can avoid these restrictions by simply not opting for the airline's unaccompanied children program while booking cheap flight tickets. But then the kid must be mature enough to handle airport situations such as navigating the check in process or handling flight delays or schedule changes.

Checklist for adults

• Be sure to review the airline's written policies before looking for cheap flight tickets with the carrier.

• Make sure you provide the airline with at least two means to contact an adult at the departure as well as the arrival airport. Make your child carry a copy of the same information.

• It is highly important for adults who will drop off or pick up a child at airports to have valid photo identifications.

• In case a flight is delayed or diverted, make sure to contact both the airline and the adult at the destination airport.