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FlyerTalk Forums Thread Wiki: Unaccompanied Minors
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Unaccompanied Minor Travel

Q. What is "unaccompanied minor" service provided by an airline?

As posted by a FT Flight Attendant: "The UM (service) provides escorted service on and off the plane, as well as handoff to the correct party. It also includes making sure the child gets the proper inflight service (food and beverages). It does not provide entertaining the child or supervising them."

Q. How old must minors be to travel unaccompanied?

The age will differ by airline. Call or read the website of the carrier you will use. If it's multiple carriers, many airlines will refuse to allow an unaccompanied minor.

For one example, read American Airlines' UNMR policy: Link to PDF.

Quote:
American Airlines: Unaccompanied minor service

Our unaccompanied minor service is to ensure your child is boarded onto the aircraft, introduced to the flight attendant, chaperoned during connections and released to the appropriate person at their destination.

We won’t accept unaccompanied minors when their itineraries include:
  • A connection to/from another airline, including codeshare and oneworld® partners
  • Ground / co-terminal connections (unaccompanied minors under 15 years, can’t use ground transportation alone)
Link to full AA policy.
Q. Does airline unaccompanied minor travel any cost in addition to the ticket?

That will also differ by carrier, just as connection and other policies will differ. American charges $150 for one or two UNMRs each way.

Quote:
American Airlines:
  • The unaccompanied minor service fee is $150 (plus tax) each way
  • 2 or more unaccompanied minors from the same family, traveling on the same flights, will only be charged $150 (plus tax) each way
Q. What documents do unaccompanied minors require for travel within the USA?

The airline generally requires proof of age for the child traveling alone (birth certificate, passport, etc.). The TSA will likely require this as well.

Q. What documentation do minors require for international travel?

Your unaccompanied minor will generally require his or her own passport for international travel.

Be sure your unaccompanied minor has a letter signed by both parents / guardians (or copy of documentation showing there is one person with sole custody) granting him permission to travel and noting who s/he will be residing with (and I suggest another granting the adults s/he to secure medical care for the minor). The letter should probably be notarized.

Quote:
US Department of State:

LETTER OF CONSENT FOR TRAVEL OF A MINOR CHILD

Because of increasing instances of child abduction in custody cases, and a growing number of children who are the victims of trafficking or pornography, an immigration officer, airline, or travel company may ask you to provide some form of letter of consent if your child is traveling internationally with only one parent or with another adult, such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc. The sample letter below is a guide only. You may also wish to have the letter of consent notarized.

Link to PDF of sample letter.
If your minor does not possess such a letter s/he may be denied flight, or otherwise be inconvenienced due to the international convention on childhood abduction the USA and most nations are signatories to.

Q. What if the minor is traveling internationally with another adult (accompanied minor)?

See the letter authorizing travel, mentioned above. As well, you can ask the airline to add a "TCP* note" in his PNR (booking record) to show s/he is traveling with another adult(s) other than both parents (one parent, relatives, friends). It might be useful to do the same for the adult; this also may help the airline to assure they're not assigned different flights in case of travel disruption.

* "To Complete Party"
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Old Jun 15, 06, 11:05 am   #1
Moderator, El Al and Starwood Preferred Guest
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Arrow Unaccompanied Minors

My kids (5 and 8) will be flying LY EWR-TLV unaccompanied on a flight with tons of families and kids. The issue is that they'll be flying on a plane with a configuration of 3-4-3 and I'm not sure where best to seat them. If they are in say AB then they'll have to disturb C every time they need to use the bathroom. If they are in BC then they'll be bummed they aren't at the window seat. If they are in DE then they won't have to bother anyone at all, will still be bummed about the window, and the likelihood of them roaming the plane is higher. Not that they'll cause a raucous but I'm one of those sticklers for kids keeping their butts planted firmly in their seats.

Comments? Questions? Dirty words? Any input is appreciated.
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Old Jun 15, 06, 1:07 pm   #2
  
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I didn't know children that young were allowed to fly unaccompanied. Especially on an international flight. 5 years old????
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Old Jun 15, 06, 1:20 pm   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tazi
I didn't know children that young were allowed to fly unaccompanied. Especially on an international flight. 5 years old????
5 is the minimum age for LY. They don't even accept 4 years and 50 weeks. Fortunately or unfortunately his birthday is 2 weeks after we are flying or we'd have sent them on their own and then met them for the second half of the trip. As it works out though I'll be stateside for the 4th of July for the first time in nearly 20 years. I loooove fireworks.
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Old Jun 26, 06, 1:02 pm   #4
  
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5 & 7 y.o. Flying Unaccompanied Tonight

So our 5 & 7 y.o. are flying unaccompanied SEA-ANC tonight. Ugh. The Mr. was in support of this. The airline allows it. The few people I have queried have agreed it should be fine. In the meantime I am starting to sweat.

They are experienced flyers. The only worry I have is that they'll fight with each other. As long as they don't talk the FAs into giving them pop they should be fine. Right now they are in opposing aisle seats a few rows apart. I am thinking maybe leave them like that? Booking at the last minute I could not get them together, they are in the rear of the aircraft.

I am just doing a desperate plea to hear from other parents of young unaccompanied minors to tell me it worked out all right.

By the way, the kids are absolutely ecstatic they get to fly by themselves. They are feeling very important!

A
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Old Jun 26, 06, 1:12 pm   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AinA
So our 5 & 7 y.o. are flying unaccompanied SEA-ANC tonight. Ugh. The Mr. was in support of this. The airline allows it. The few people I have queried have agreed it should be fine. In the meantime I am starting to sweat.

They are experienced flyers. The only worry I have is that they'll fight with each other. As long as they don't talk the FAs into giving them pop they should be fine. Right now they are in opposing aisle seats a few rows apart. I am thinking maybe leave them like that? Booking at the last minute I could not get them together, they are in the rear of the aircraft.

I am just doing a desperate plea to hear from other parents of young unaccompanied minors to tell me it worked out all right.

By the way, the kids are absolutely ecstatic they get to fly by themselves. They are feeling very important!

A
If you are dropping them off at the gate, you can explain or give instructions
to the FA or whoever that takes the responsibility to escort them to their seats.

I've travelled with unaccompnied children sitting next to me or nearby.
I think FAs generally handle them well.
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Old Jun 26, 06, 2:55 pm   #6
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AinA
By the way, the kids are absolutely ecstatic they get to fly by themselves. They are feeling very important!
This is VERY good. Make sure they know that you expect them to behave themselves on the flight and that, if they don't, they won't have another chance to feel important like that for a long time.

Relax (it's easy for me to say), they'll be fine.

Michael
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Old Jun 26, 06, 3:29 pm   #7
  
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My son (now 15) flew as an UM for years, and never had a problem at all. It's harder for the parents than for the kids!

My only suggestion is perhaps to see if you can seat them together, with an empty seat between them? Although there is the risk of fighting (I have two boys myself) I think it is also comforting, especially for the 5-year-old.

I would also go over all the rules again with them pre-flight, and discuss "rewarding good behavior" in advance.

Let us know how it turns out!
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Old Jun 27, 06, 2:08 am   #8
  
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Well... they landed safely.

When we got to the airport I had the 7 y.o. figure out their gate and flight number and seat assignments from his boarding pass. He was able to get us to the gate although he was a little stymied looking at the Do Not Enter sign for what was clearly labeled C Gate Exit. The guard could see what was happening and let him work out the problem on his own. Finally he just looked at me and said, "We gotta keep going."

He showed his little sister how to wait to go through the WTMD while I was loading their backpacks and carry on full of food onto the belt. When we got to the gate they were still boarding an earlier flight so I did offer the suggestion to him of verifying the gate with the GA, which he did. They found some kids in the waiting area to play with and totally ignored me while I hovered.

For some dumb reason I thought I would get to put them in their seats. Oh well. THey moved people around and they seated them middle and aisle together in a row towards the back. Would have preferred opposing aisle seats but the flight was full and we bought our tickets at the last minute. Sent money for digi-players and instructions for no sugar or caffeine (for the FAs sake) and they were gone.

I stayed up way past my bedtime waiting on the phone to hear if they arrived safely. Dad walked up and the kids were distracted talking to some other UMs. The 5 y.o. responded that she did NOT recognise her dad when queried by the FA, her older brother said... That's DAD! Her response with a big sigh, "I know." ???? Don't tell me kids don't have a grasp on sarcasm! Of course Dad's ID was checked a little more thoroughly than normal at that point! FA totally cracked up. Dad did come bearing gifts for the FAs too. (Big bag of fresh cherries.)

The FA said they were great and could fly unaccompanied without worry. (Perhaps she just wants more cherries?) According to the kids they had fun. Apparently they did get pop after all. That alone made flying cool!!!

Would we do it again right away? Probably so although I do not forsee the opportunity in the near future. The FA being supportive is a plus. Glad I had FT to vent my fears at today. Thanks for the responses! Whew!

A
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Old Jun 27, 06, 5:05 am   #9
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Great!!! you've made it.. i mean the kids made it
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Old Jun 27, 06, 6:43 am   #10
  
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MY little ones leave on their first trip on this Thursday. I'm doing the freck thing too. My 9 & 7 year old girls are flying from MCI to CHI. To add to it My niece who is 7 (little girl) also is going too. Three little girls. Yickes. Its only an hour flight and they have been on 6 trips together already. My stress will only last a little over an hour.
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Old Jul 14, 06, 1:00 am   #11
  
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how do unaccompanied minors clear immigration/customs?

I'm wondering how kids traveling alone or as UM go through immigration? I looked at the BA site, but didn't see that subject covered. Do airline staff take them through the regular lanes, or is there special path for children? Are parents/guardians allowed to meet the kids before immigration?
(this question mainly pertains to kids who are U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. solo from western Europe, where they are met by a parent/grandparent)
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Old Jul 14, 06, 6:22 am   #12
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CDTraveler
I'm wondering how kids traveling alone or as UM go through immigration? I looked at the BA site, but didn't see that subject covered. Do airline staff take them through the regular lanes, or is there special path for children? Are parents/guardians allowed to meet the kids before immigration?
(this question mainly pertains to kids who are U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. solo from western Europe, where they are met by a parent/grandparent)
Be sure to agree with the airline who can meet your children at the airport, even if it is a close family member! (and bring proper identification). The airline will and must take care of your children until they are met. In your case I think the airline staff will take your kids through immigration through "special paths" but someone may know first hand. Generally I'd say this depends on airport. I've seen a special lane eg. in Paris while other airports may use the airline employee lanes. If you are within the Schengen zone in Europe then the parents may even -at some airports- be able to pick up their children at the gate.
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Old Jul 14, 06, 7:47 am   #13
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CDTraveler
I'm wondering how kids traveling alone or as UM go through immigration? ... Do airline staff take them through the regular lanes, or is there special path for children?
Airline staff definitely escort UMs through customs/immigration. Which lane depends on the airport but if there is a "special" lane, they'll generally use it.

Quote:
Are parents/guardians allowed to meet the kids before immigration?
No (at least in the US). That's why the airline will stick with them until they're delivered off to the authorized person.

Michael
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Old Nov 16, 06, 1:59 pm   #14
  
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Child travelling alone on WN?

I'd like to send my son, who will be 7.5 years old, to visit his dad in the spring. I can do direct, but not nonstop, flights on Southwest to accomplish this, but I'm wondering whether anyone has any experiences with the unaccompanied minor program, good or bad, to share. My plan would definitely be to send him on an early-in-the-day flight, because I know what can happen with weather and such. And he's an experienced flyer--probably has flown 3-4 times a year since he was born, including some transatlantic flights. What else should I be thinking about as I evaluate this plan?
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Old Nov 16, 06, 4:10 pm   #15
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Seek an airline that has a non-stop flight. It will be much easier for your child and less of a worry for you.
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