Traveling alone is an adventure, especially if it is your first time. For minors that are traveling on their own for the first time, there are a few airlines that allow 14-year-olds and below to travel alone.
So, how old do you have to be to fly alone? Most airlines allow kids starting at 5 years of age to fly on their own. You will need to register them with the airline’s unaccompanied minor program to ensure that they will be guided until they reach their destination.
In this article, we have compiled a guide on how to prepare kids for flying alone. We have also provided a list of airlines that have an unaccompanied minor program.
How to Prepare Kids for Flying Alone
Do kids need ID to fly? What should kids bring to the airport? Below are the answers to these frequently asked questions, plus a few more information.
1. Choose the best flight schedule.
It is recommended to book a flight that departs in the morning. This gives you enough time to plan the next steps in case the flight is delayed or canceled. This also ensures that the minor will be alert and ready for their flight.
When booking, be sure to immediately inform the airline’s representative that the seat is for an unaccompanied minor. Make the necessary arrangements when booking to ensure a hassle-free journey once the child is in the airport.
2. Be sure to bring the important documents.
The most important thing that your kid should have when flying alone is documentation. Make sure that they have a copy of their flight details and boarding pass. They also need to bring a copy of a valid ID like their birth certificate.
If the child has any important medical information, like allergies or medications, ensure that they have a copy of all these details with them.
Aside from these documents, they must know who will be picking them up at their destination. Most airlines will require the parent or guardian to register the name of the person who will pick them up at their destination.
3. Provide emergency funds.
Aside from the essential documents, the minor must also have enough cash for emergencies. This cash should be able to cover any emergency purchases in case of flight delays, such as food and water.
4. Pack and use appropriate travel wear.
The minor must wear appropriate travel clothes when flying alone. Be sure that they choose comfortable clothes to wear. Aside from wearing comfy clothing, check that they have packed a travel pillow or blanket for the long flight.
Packing a few things to keep them entertained is also a good idea. Include some books to read or a portable gaming console if the child has one. To make sure that your child doesn’t leave anything behind, pack everything in a simple carry-on, like a backpack. Make sure that the backpack has the child’s name as well as emergency contact information.
>> Make a journal of your trip with a handy notebook.
5. Bring some snacks.
Preparing for a flight would not be complete without packing some snacks. This is a great idea to keep the child from getting hungry while on the flight. Having their own snacks will also ensure that they save their emergency funds in case anything goes wrong.
Airlines with Unaccompanied Minor Programs
Just because an airline has an unaccompanied minor program, it doesn’t mean that you need to send your 5-year-old child on a flight on their own. You must balance the need for flying alone with the child’s maturity and preparedness to do so.
If you deem that your minor is ready, here is a list of airlines that allow 14-year-olds and below to fly alone.
The unaccompanied minor programs of these first four airlines are required for minors from 5 to 14 years of age and optional for those 15 to 17 years of age. For minors flying Hawaiian Airlines or Southwest, the program is required for minors from 5 to 11 years of age.
1. American Airlines
The American Airlines program includes early boarding and kid-exclusive airport lounges. It does not accept children who are traveling with connecting flights using a different airline, or those requiring transfers to a different airport.
The program costs $150 for a one-way flight for a child and their siblings.
2. Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines’ unaccompanied minors are given a wristband to wear for the duration of the flight. The parent or guardian will also be given special passage through the airport so that they can assist the minor until the flight takes off. At the destination, the person who will pick up the minor is also required to secure a gate pass to be at the gate upon landing.
The program costs $150 for a one-way flight for up to 4 minors.
3. Spirit Airlines
Spirit’s program covers minors on direct flights only. Minors who need to go on international flights or connecting flights will not be accepted. A lanyard will be given to unaccompanied minors for easy identification. Adults will be given gate passes so they can accompany the minor to the gate before boarding. During the flight, minors will receive a snack and drink on board.
The program costs $100 for a one-way flight per minor.
Children using United’s unaccompanied minor program will be allowed to board first to meet the flight attendants. They will also be given a free snack mid-flight. They can only travel on direct or nonstop flights.
The program costs $150 for a one-way flight for two minors.
5. Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines’ unaccompanied minor program covers domestic flights only. Minors are not allowed on international flights if they are traveling alone.
The program costs $135 for a one-way flight within Hawaii and $100 for a one-way flight between Hawaii and North America. It is required for minors from 5 to 11 years of age.
Southwest’s program is required for domestic and nonstop flights. International flights do not have an unaccompanied minor program. Parents or guardians must secure a gate pass to accompany the minor through the airport. All minors will be given a lanyard to wear for the duration of the journey.
The program costs $50 for a one-way flight.
The next time that your kids want to go visit their grandpa and grandma or go on a summer camp alone, take note of this list of airlines that allow 14-year-olds and below to go on their unaccompanied minor program. Just be sure that the kids have everything they need for the trip so they will arrive safely at their destination. Get vacation ideas for kids here!