Sending your child alone on an airplane flight may not be top of mind for every parent, but if it makes sense for your family it’s important to follow certain procedures and rules. Each airline offers its own unaccompanied minor policy with differing age requirements, costs and travel limitations – here’s a breakdown of some popular US airlines so you can decide what’s best for your family!
Booking travel for unaccompanied minors should be done through an airline website. Booking an unaccompanied minor ticket should be similar to making any online reservation – simply enter cities, dates and number of passengers before selecting your flight – however when reaching the passenger details screen they’ll prompt you for their date of birth which will flag their ticket as unaccompanied minor status.
Spirit, Southwest and JetBlue all provide online booking capabilities to book unaccompanied minor flights; just click “Unaccompanied Minor” in your booking screen and follow the prompts for an unaccompanied minor reservation. When filling out this form you will need your child’s date of birth, contact details as well as information for their parent or guardian and payment of the Unaccompanied Minor service fee which will appear on your ticket price breakdown.
Once at their destination airport, an airline staff member will accompany your child through customs and immigration, and board them in time for their connecting flight. Transit stops will remain under the care of cabin crew or ground staff until it’s time for their final journey – where an airline staff member will release them to an adult designated on their release form.
Before booking any flight arrangements with an airline, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with their unaccompanied minor policy and fees. Hawaiian defines unaccompanied minor as anyone aged 5-11 flying alone while Delta Air Lines defines it as anyone aged 12-17. Furthermore, each airline imposes different UM fees which usually cover one flight segment (outbound + return) without including food or beverages onboard.
As an aid for travelers scouring airline websites for unaccompanied minor policies and guidelines, I’ve put together this printable chart of US domestic airlines’ unaccompanied minor policies and guidelines (fully up-to-date as of early 2023):