The thought of sending your child alone on a plane might be scary, but there is really nothing to worry about. Children flying alone is a common occurrence in our day and age, and many airlines have systems in place that help these kids feel safe and get them securely to their destination.
So, if you need to send a kid somewhere or you just want to know more about the rules for unaccompanied minors flying alone, you’re definitely in the right place. This guide covers everything you need to know, including which airlines have unaccompanied minor services that will help your child feel safe when traveling alone.
Generally speaking, minors are allowed to fly alone in most cases. There are certain restrictions in place, like the minimum age of a child who can fly alone, but unaccompanied minors older than 5 are often allowed to fly. Many airlines even have programs in place that provide assistance to unaccompanied minors and help them get safely from point A to point B.
This service is often available at an additional fee, but it’s worth every penny if you’re sending a young child along on a plane. Navigating the airport can be challenging and overwhelming for young children, even if they’ve already flown several times.
Unaccompanied minors are allowed on nonstop Air Canada flights. The child must be at least 8 years old – younger kids are not allowed to travel alone with this airline. Air Canada offers an unaccompanied minor service, which is mandatory for children aged 8-11. This service is optional for 12-17-year-olds, and it’s worth noting that children in this age range are allowed on connecting flights. The fee for this service is $100 for each flight.
Alaska Airlines allows children aged 5-17 to fly alone, and they have an unaccompanied minor program that provides help to kids traveling alone. It’s called the Junior Jetsetters service, and it allows the children to board the airplane early so they can get comfortable in their seats. The service is mandatory for children aged 5-12, and it’s $50 per direct flight or $75 for connecting flights.
Junior Jetsetters are also given special bracelets so that the airport personnel can easily spot them and offer assistance if necessary. These kids get a special safety briefing from the flight attendant, as well as a free meal that they can pre-order ahead of the flight.
American Airlines lets children aged 5-14 fly alone, but they have to use their unaccompanied minor service. For kids aged 14-17, this service is not mandatory. Their unaccompanied minor program includes early boarding, child-only lounges for children who are on connecting flights, complimentary snacks, and an airport escort that will make sure your child gets safely through the airport.
A parent or guardian needs to fill out the unaccompanied minor form to sign up for this flight and the service is $150 each way, for both nonstop and connecting flights. It’s worth noting that the service fee covers all siblings, so it’s the best value if you’re sending multiple kids on a flight by themselves.
Delta Airlines allows children aged 5-14 to fly alone, but they must sign up for the unaccompanied minor service. Children aged 5-7 are allowed to travel only on nonstop or direct flights, while kids aged 7-14 can travel on both connecting and direct flights. The fee for the unaccompanied minor service is $150 per flight, and it’s valid for up to four children.
Unfortunately, Frontier Airlines doesn’t allow accompanied minors on their flights since 2018. Children must be at least 15 years old to travel alone on their flights, and any kids younger than 15 must be on the same reservation as the adults accompanying them.
Hawaiian Airlines allows kids between the ages of 5 and 11 to fly alone. The kids are considered unaccompanied minors and have to sign up for the service, which is $35 per flight within the state of Hawaii, but $100 per flight for travel within North America. Kisd aged 5-11 are not allowed to travel internationally alone on this airline.
Children who are between 12 and 17 can fly alone without signing up for the unaccompanied minor service. Additionally, it’s worth noting that Hawaiian airlines do not allow unaccompanied minors to board a connecting flight to a different airline.
JetBlue is fine with kids aged 5-14 flying alone on their planes if they are signed up for the unaccompanied minor program. This service is $150 per flight per person. It’s worth noting that JetBlue allows unaccompanied minors only on nonstop flights, and they have a limit of three unaccompanied minors per flight.
Kids aged 5-15 can fly alone on direct flights with Norwegian Air. If the child is 5-11 years old, they must be signed up for the airline’s unaccompanied minor program, which costs 50 Euros per flight. This service is optional for children between the aged of 12 and 15, and any teenagers older than 15 will have to travel alone as adults.
Unaccompanied minor service is mandatory for children aged 5-11 who are flying alone with Southwest Airlines. You can even sign up multiple unaccompanied minors on the same reservation, but you have to pay individually for the service, which is $50 per flight per minor.
Kids older than 11 are allowed to fly alone, but it’s interesting that you can’t sign them up for the unaccompanied minor program at all. Most airlines allow you to sign up an older kid for the program if it’s necessary, but Southwest doesn’t allow this. Children older than 11 are considered Young Travelers and are free to travel independently.
Spirit Airlines lets kids aged 5-14 fly alone with their airline. It’s mandatory for them to use the unaccompanied minor program, which is $150 per flight. Minors can travel alone only on direct flights, which do not include any changes in aircraft or flight numbers.
Kids older than 15 can fly alone, but they could be required to present a passport or a birth certificate – something that proves their age. They can still sign up for the unaccompanied minor service if they want, but it is not mandatory.
Unaccompanied minors aged 5-14 can fly alone on United Airlines flights. They must sign up for United’s unaccompanied minor service, which is $150 per flight. This service is also available to 15-17-year-old teenagers, but it’s not mandatory for them.
It’s worth noting that the fee is $150 per flight for one or two children. For three or four children, the fee is $300, and for five or six children, it’s $450 per flight.
WestJet allows unaccompanied minors to fly alone, but they must be at least 8 years old. The airline has a Guardian fare program, which is mandatory for all children aged 8-12. Teenagers aged 12-17 can sign up for this program if they want to, but it is not necessary. The fee for this service is $100 per flight.
It’s worth noting that unaccompanied minors can only fly on nonstop domestic flights in Canada with WestJet. They can’t fly to the United States and they cannot be on any flights that require a connection or take place between 10 PM and 5:30 AM.
You will need to fill out a few forms if you’re sending an unaccompanied minor on a flight. This includes the unaccompanied minor form, as well as any customs and immigration documents that might be necessary. The forms should stay with your child when they are at the airport.
Additionally, it’s smart to write phone numbers for your child and attach your own personal information to them, so that the airline personnel can easily contact you if necessary. Explain to your child what to expect at the airport step-by-step, and walk them through the process of going through security and boarding a plane, so that they can feel prepared.
Tell them all about flight attendants and their uniforms, so that they know how to spot them in case they need some assistance.
When you first get to the airport, you need to head straight to the check-in desk. There you need to present the airport personnel with the filled-out forms, as well as something that proves the child’s age (a birth certificate or a passport will suffice).
You also need to bring some sort of government-issued ID (with photo) of the child’s guardian that includes their current address, their (or your) photo, and finally the phone number, address, and full name of the adult who will be meeting the child at their destination.
When you complete the check-in process, you will be granted a security pass that allows you to escort your child all the way to their gate.
It’s important to make sure that your kid’s luggage is packed correctly and that they have everything necessary for a safe and comfortable flight. Double-check that their liquids are packed properly, make sure that everything they need to take out at security is easily accessible and have their in-flight entertainment.
You should also pack some snacks for the kid, as well as all the documentation they will need to board the flight (passport, forms, boarding pass, etc.). Airlines also advise parents and guardians to write down their contact information and include it in their children’s luggage, as well as the phone number of the adult that will pick up the child at the destination.
Yes, 17-year-olds can fly alone in the United States, and they can even fly alone on international flights. They can use the unaccompanied minor service if they want to, but this is usually not mandatory for children aged 15-17. They will need to present the same documents that standard passengers are required to have to board a plane.
The Child Travel Consent form is a document signed by both parents/legal guardians of a minor that states the minor has permission to travel without a legal guardian present. This is necessary if you’re flying somewhere with children who aren’t yours, so maybe it’s your kid’s friend or your sister’s little one. You need to present proof that the legal guardian okayed them to travel with you.
Parents who are escorting their child to a flight alone will be granted a security pass that allows them to take their kids to the departure gate. But that’s as far as you can go – you will not be allowed to board the aircraft with your child if you do not have a boarding pass.
Don’t worry about this – the flight attendants are instructed to take care of minors who are traveling alone, and this includes allowing them extra time to get comfy in their seats and explaining all the security rules and regulations to them one-on-one. Your child will be in good hands, as it should be since you’re paying good money for the airlines’ mandatory unaccompanied minor service.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.