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Unaccompanied Minors Not Permitted on 2+ Hour Connections

Unaccompanied Minors Not Permitted on 2+ Hour Connections

Old Nov 27, 18, 6:02 pm
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Unaccompanied Minors Not Permitted on 2+ Hour Connections

From the Alaska Airlines website:
Children traveling alone, ages 8 through 12 years old, may be booked on flights involving transfers or connections to flights operated by Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, SkyWest Flight Series 3440-3499, PenAir, or Ravn Alaska
I use Alaska a couple of times a year to send my daughter to her mom's house in California simply because their UM fees are the most reasonable. Earlier this year - before Alaska raised their UM fees - my daughter was able to fly alone on SkyWest flights with a number below 3440.

I went to book her travel for Christmas now and I'm forced to select more expensive flights and in many cases the "last flight out" simply because all earlier/cheaper flights have a SkyWest flight number below 3440.

This is a new change and when I asked Alaska "why" I wasn't given an answer - just directed to look at other options. I'm curious if anyone knows why this limitation is in place... I guess it would make me feel better if I knew there was a logical reason for this seemingly arbitrary limitation or it might help me to determine if this is something flexible with appropriate escalation.
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Old Nov 27, 18, 8:26 pm
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I know it's uncool to reply to your own post, but in case anyone else experiences this...

I decided to call back and escalate. I was unsuccessful but after a second time, I reached a supervisor who still couldn't explain "why" but decided to manually override the computer and book my child on our desired flight anyway even though the flight number was below 3440 and operated by SkyWest. The supervisor saw the restriction online and in her system but said something to the effect of "it must be some kind of mistake". I guess persistence pays off and the old mantra of HUCA (hang up, call again) is alive and well. It's also good to know that front-line supervisors are empowered to do overrides.
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Old Nov 27, 18, 8:33 pm
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Just to confirm, you’re booking a ticket with a connecting flight? The flight number restriction doesn’t appear to apply to nonstop flights.

If no one else offers an explanation, I’d use the contact webform on the AS site to inquire further.

https://www.alaskaair.com/feedback/general-comments

Edit: I see you got it resolved. ^
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Old Nov 27, 18, 8:36 pm
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I wouldn't ask further about the rule until the flights have been flown, assuming that the supervisor properly documented the approval. You don't want to get attention that risks having the ticket cancelled.
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Old Nov 28, 18, 9:48 am
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My only guess would be that the flight number range is intended to distinguish "AlaskaSkyWest" flights from AS codeshares on American Eagle flights operated by SkyWest (or, in the past, Delta Connection operated by SkyWest). It looks like they only allow online connections to Alaska prime flights (which makes sense; they don't want to deal with the added complexity and risk of handing an unaccompanied minor off from AS and their policies to a partner airline and their policies unless they've done work to make procedures compatible). Was there some time in the past when AS 3440-3499 covered all the AlaskaSkyWest flights and they used that old list?
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Old Nov 28, 18, 9:51 am
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Is there any concern that since it's not supposed to be allowed, they may not be prepared or accustomed to dealing with an unaccompanied minor?
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Old Nov 28, 18, 5:05 pm
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From the description, it doesn't sound like an airport issue since the airport in question has flights within and outside the range, but that timing seemed to play a role and that it wasn't an option on the early flights.

Sounds to me like it's built around staffing. They might be running more "bare bones" staffing in the early morning and as a general policy don't want people tied up escorting and watching UMs. Later in the day, maybe they have more staff or shifts overlapping, it's probably easier to handle UMs.

That being said, I don't think they'll just push the kiddos off the plane to fend for themselves - but OP might be making someone's day more stressful by short handing them at a position.
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Old Nov 28, 18, 8:16 pm
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Originally Posted by nearlysober View Post
From the description, it doesn't sound like an airport issue since the airport in question has flights within and outside the range, but that timing seemed to play a role and that it wasn't an option on the early flights.

Sounds to me like it's built around staffing. They might be running more "bare bones" staffing in the early morning and as a general policy don't want people tied up escorting and watching UMs. Later in the day, maybe they have more staff or shifts overlapping, it's probably easier to handle UMs.
Are flight numbers organized by time of day reliably enough for AS/SkyWest to plan around it as you describe? I highly doubt it; in fact, I doubt that flight numbers are ordered by time of day as you describe (ie all SkyWest flights with flight numbers below some value are at a certain time of day) at all. And I highly doubt that they’re choosing flight numbers to be organized around unaccompanied minor policies.

If time of day were the issue, wouldn’t it be a lot easier to say “no unaccompanied minors on connecting itineraries arriving in the connection city before X:00?”?
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Old Nov 28, 18, 8:48 pm
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Originally Posted by ashill View Post
Are flight numbers organized by time of day reliably enough for AS/SkyWest to plan around it as you describe? I highly doubt it; in fact, I doubt that flight numbers are ordered by time of day as you describe (ie all SkyWest flights with flight numbers below some value are at a certain time of day) at all. And I highly doubt that they’re choosing flight numbers to be organized around unaccompanied minor policies.
Twenty seconds of Googling shows that AS 3400 is a 06:30 SJC-SNA while 3401 is a 15:00 LAX-SLC. So that's definitely not what's going on.
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Old Nov 28, 18, 9:04 pm
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@missydarlin might be able to provide some insight, unless she's in MSY or LIH for we'll deserved R&R.
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Old Nov 29, 18, 11:34 am
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Originally Posted by beckoa View Post
@missydarlin might be able to provide some insight, unless she's in MSY or LIH for we'll deserved R&R.
I'm 7 days away from a long weekend in CHS

@nethak are you saying that alaskaair.com isn't allowing you to book those flights? What markets? At what point is it stopping you?

I just tried shopping for a 10 yr old UM and was able to view and select a flight that in the 3300 range.
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Old Nov 29, 18, 12:01 pm
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The flight series text is incorrect. But I'm going to guess that the inhibition has way more to do with one of the two highlighted rules than with the flight series. I was successfuly able to shop online for both nonstop and connection flights using <3400 series flights for a UM


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Old Nov 29, 18, 12:08 pm
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Originally Posted by nethak View Post
I went to book her travel for Christmas now and I'm forced to select more expensive flights and in many cases the "last flight out" simply because all earlier/cheaper flights have a SkyWest flight number below 3440.
(Emphasis added.)

Originally Posted by missydarlin View Post
The flight series text is incorrect. But I'm going to guess that the inhibition has way more to do with one of the two highlighted rules than with the flight series. I was successfuly able to shop online for both nonstop and connection flights using <3400 series flights for a UM


That makes sense, but then why would the OP be forced to book the last flight out (which would violate the sensible policy)?
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Old Nov 29, 18, 12:10 pm
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The problem with flight number ranges is that flight numbers eventually change and make the rule out of date (see: HU earning chart). It looks like that rule was set when 3440-3499 were the only OOdbaAS flights.
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Old Nov 29, 18, 1:04 pm
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Originally Posted by ashill View Post
(Emphasis added.)



That makes sense, but then why would the OP be forced to book the last flight out (which would violate the sensible policy)?
Are the other flight options longer than 2 hour connects? Maybe it's due to conflict between the two rules with the default resolution going to the last flight out? It looks like the 2 hour rule has the more restrictive wording of the two.
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