Kids Flying Solo Guide
Airline Policies for Unaccompanied Minors
|Airline||Age||Fee per child (each way)||Notes|
|Air Canada||8 to 11 years old – must purchase UM service12 to 17 years old – UM service optional||$100 CAD/USD||The Unaccompanied Minor (UM) service is available for nonstop flights only.|
|AirTran Airways||5 to 11 years old – nonstop, direct flights only||$50 for one-way$100 for round trip||Unaccompanied children cannot fly on the last flight of the day.|
|American Airlines||5 to 11 years old – nonstop, direct flights only||$100 each way(only one fee applies for two+ siblings flying same itinerary)|
|British Airways||5 to 6 years old – direct, nonstop flights only6 to12 years old – must use service but can fly on any BA flight|
12 to 18 years old – optional to use service
|$50 for flights within UK$75 for long-haul flights||Flights for unaccompanied minors cannot be booked online, and children must be registered with the Skyflyer Solo service 48 hours before departure.|
|Delta Air Lines||5 to 7 years old – nonstop or direct flights only8 to 14 years old – nonstop and connecting flights||$100 each way||Unaccompanied minors are not permitted on Red Eye flights (between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.), with the exception of flights departing from Alaska or Hawaii and connections to/from international flights.|
|Frontier Airlines||5 to 14 years old – nonstop or direct flights only||$100 each way|
|Porter Airlines||8 to 12 years old – service is mandatory12 to 17 years old – service is optional||$100 each way||Book via the Porter Call Centre (1-888-619-8622). Parents must wait at the airport until the flight has been airborne for 20 minutes.|
|United Airlines||5 to 11 years old – service is mandatory12 to 17 years old – service is optional||$150 each way||Unaccompanied minors can only travel on flights operated by United or United Express.|
|US Airways||5 to 11 years old – nonstop only12 to 17 years old – service is optional||$150 each way||If a flight is delayed or cancelled, US Airways will make alternate travel arrangements. If a flight is unavailable until the following day, they will arrange overnight accommodations at the airport with 2 stationed employees.|
|WestJet||8 to 11 years old – service is mandatory12 to 17 years old – service is optional||$100 each way||All reservations for an unaccompanied minor must be made by calling at 1-888-937-8538|
What to Pack:
- Cell phone: If your child doesn’t have a cell phone, get him or her a pay-as-you-go phone – an easy form of communication for emergencies. Pay-as-you-go phones can be purchased from any cell phone retailer. Make sure your child knows how to place a collect call and provide a calling card that can be used at public telephones.
- Gift cards: Invest in a few pre-paid gift cards worth $25 or $50, which will let your child purchase food or any unexpected expenses along the way. This will eliminate the worry of travelling with a tremendous amount of cash.
- Family/friends contact information: Give your child a complete list of names, numbers and addresses of the people who are picking your child up at the airport.
- Photographs: Provide a picture of the person(s) your child will be meeting at the airport, and write out the person’s complete contact information on the back of the photo.
- Medication: Make sure your child has all medications he or she needs and is comfortable taking medications on his or her own.
- Details of the day’s schedule: Make sure your child knows what to do in an emergency. For example, provide instructions on how to handle flight delays or cancellations. Let him know how to handle overnight accommodations if necessary. Provide at least two copies of this information and store it in two different places.
- Snacks: Pack some popular munchies such as chips, sandwiches, trail mix, grapes, berries, gum, etc. Also consider buying a bottle of juice or water for your child after passing through the security checkpoint.
- Entertainment: Make or buy a travel pack to keep him or her entertained during the flight. Include items like colouring books, crayons, books, Play-Dough or handheld video games – wonderful distractions for little ones.
Before the Flight:
- Contact your preferred carrier in advance of making a reservation for specific information and guidelines regarding children travelling alone.
- Try to book a morning flight. If it is delayed or cancelled, you have the rest of the day to make alternate plans.
- Anyone younger than 17 flying alone on an international flight must have a signed note from a parent or responsible adult giving permission, destination and length of stay.
- Parents must provide information regarding who will be dropping off and picking up their child from each airport. Children are escorted off the aircraft by a flight attendant and released to the designee or another designated employee.
- Familiarize your child with his or her itinerary and make sure all travel documents are kept in a safe place – especially if they’ll be needed for a return flight.
- Make sure your child doesn’t wear any clothing that has his or her name on it, which would make it easier for an impersonator to convince a child they can be trusted.
- Make sure your child’s luggage is easy for him or her to carry and recognize.
At the Airport:
- Early arrival is important. Unaccompanied minors are usually pre-boarded, so airlines recommend allowing plenty of time to check in and get through security. A relaxed pace will also be less stressful for your child.
- Make sure the flight attendants know your child is travelling alone. Confirm that he or she will be seated in an area of the aircraft that’s convenient for attendants to keep an eye out – the very front or very back of the aircraft is ideal.
- If a connection has to be made, pay any extra fees necessary to have a flight attendant assist your child to that connecting flight. Siblings flying together usually pay only one fee to be escorted to a connecting flight.
Featured image: Juhan Sonin