How to Book a Flight for an Unaccompanied Minor
Sending a child on an unaccompanied minor flight comes with additional fees and responsibilities to make sure she stays safe during the trip. Each airline sets its airline policies regarding young children who fly alone. Most consider unaccompanied minors to be 5 to 11 years of age. Some airlines extend that range up to 15 year-olds. You won't be able to book a flight for an unaccompanied minor through a discount airline website. The airlines typically require you to contact them directly or book through a travel agent.
1. Check the age restriction policy with your airline
Read the unaccompanied minor service policy for the airline you plan to use. Determine if your child falls within the age range, as well as any restrictions or guidelines you need to follow for domestic flights and international flights. For example, some airlines only allow unaccompanied minors on direct flights and nonstop flights, no connecting flights. The airlines have this information available on their websites, or you can call them directly to find the information and ask questions.
Plan the round trip travel dates for your child. Collaborate with the legal guardian on the other end who will pick up the child when she lands at the arrival gate in the destination airport.
Review the available flights on the airline for the dates your child will travel. The airline websites offer flight information in a search format, or you can call the airline to determine which flights are available for air travel.
2. Schedule flight early in the day
Select the child’s flight early in the day to account for possible delays or missed connections at the time of booking. This increases the chance of your child getting on a later flight. Choose a direct flight if at all possible. A through flight is another option for children flying alone. The plane does stop before reaching its destination, but your child won't have to switch planes because it will continue on to the destination.
Gather the child's information, including full name and birth date, and the adult contact information for the flight. Provide the airline with at least two adult phone numbers at both ends of the flight so someone is always available.
Call the airline directly to make the flight reservations. Request the specific flight you want the child to take. The airline may also have suggestions for the best flights or routes for your child to arrive at the destination.
3. When in doubt, ask for check-in procedures at the airport
Ask about the airport check-in procedures at the airport if you are unsure. The unaccompanied minor is typically required to check in with an agent at the ticket counter rather than using a self-service kiosk. You may also need to arrive at a particular time to ensure plenty of processing time for travel documents, photo ids, birth certificates and the unaccompanied minor form in order to verify the child age.
Ask if you are able to get a gate pass allowing you to walk to the departure gate with your child before drop-off. Some airlines also allow you to get on the plane with your child and a flight attendant before leaving. Ensure you understand all of the requirements and restrictions for boarding before completing the booking process and paying airfare and service fees with your credit card.
Review the information on the ticket or confirmation to ensure your child's details are listed correctly. Verify that the flight information matches the flight you selected.