Unaccompanied Minor - Air India

Old Sep 13, 19, 9:49 pm
  #1  
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Unaccompanied Minor - Air India

Hi friends,

My 11 year old son will be travelling as an unaccompanied minor from BLR to LHR on AI 177 (direct, non-stop flight). I am opening this thread to both document the process, and to ask a few questions.

AI webpage on this topic: Unaccompanied children - Air India

Booking:
AI does not allow booking of unaccompanied minors through their Website/App/Call centre. We had to go to their city office in BLR to get the tickets issued. We took the filled in Unaccompanied Minor form in triplicate as per the AI webpage. Travel was in the end of September and we went to buy tickets mid-August. The booking agent was quite reluctant to issue the ticket because travel was still "quite a while away" and that they might "misplace the documentation for the Unaccompanied Minor". However, we insisted that she issue the tickets since fares might go up. She issued the ticket and we had to pay the normal adult fare. There was no demand for any extra fees for the Unaccompanied Minor service. The booking agent asked us to come "closer to the travel date" to submit documentation (three copies of each of the following: AI unaccompanied minor form, return ticket, passport copy, visa of minor, passport copy of person picking up the child, their visa, passport copy of the person handing over the child in BLR). The eTicket print out does not mention anywhere that the pax is an unaccompanied minor.

Document submission:
We went to the AI office yesterday to submit the documents. Once again there was some reluctance to accept the documents since "travel was more than 2 weeks away", but after some insistence, they collected one set of documents. The second set would have to be given at the airport on the day of travel and the third set should be in the possession of the child while travelling. The agent issued a "receipt". Only after we came back home, we noticed a few mistakes (my name was mis-spelt, my wife's phone number had a wrong digit). We will go again today to get these corrected.

Questions:
1) The booking agent mentioned that ~3 days before travel, the person picking up the child in LHR (me) would get a call to confirm that I would be able to pick up the child. Only after this "confirmation" would they give a go ahead to BLR to accept the child for travel. Does anyone have experience with this process? I would have international roaming activated in my Indian phone number while I am in London, but I am still worried that I might miss this call, creating confusion. When we go today to the AI office in BLR, we will try to get my e-mail address added, so that they can reach me through e-mail if they are not able to reach me through phone.
2) My wife would be dropping off our child in BLR - how far would she be able to accompany our son? Ideally, it would be great if she can get till the gate to see our son off, but I am guessing that might not be possible. Any experiences dropping off a child in BLR?
3) Any experience picking up an unaccompanied minor in LHR? AI 177 lands in T2, and I am assuming I will be able to get till the arrivals area. Where do I have to "report" to? Will there be an AI counter in the arrivals area of T2? I am assuming AI staff will accompany my child through immigration and customs.

Will continue to update this thread.
ajayr is offline  
Old Sep 13, 19, 10:23 pm
  #2  
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my cousin had to go through this process for many years with her daughter's travel between del - sin....when my niece was a minor, she would travel unaccompanied twice a year to singapore to visit her father....

i accompanied her once to the booking office in delhi & the process was pretty smooth....it also helped that she did this regularly for 6-7 years so she got to know the staff at the booking office, who in turn made the whole process a lot easier for her....she never had a problem booking tickets months in advance....

Originally Posted by ajayr View Post
1) The booking agent mentioned that ~3 days before travel, the person picking up the child in LHR (me) would get a call to confirm that I would be able to pick up the child. Only after this "confirmation" would they give a go ahead to BLR to accept the child for travel. Does anyone have experience with this process? I would have international roaming activated in my Indian phone number while I am in London, but I am still worried that I might miss this call, creating confusion. When we go today to the AI office in BLR, we will try to get my e-mail address added, so that they can reach me through e-mail if they are not able to reach me through phone.
my suggestion would be to have your wife visit the booking office in the event you don't get the call 3 days out....i don't think they will reach out to you via email....

Originally Posted by ajayr View Post
2) My wife would be dropping off our child in BLR - how far would she be able to accompany our son? Ideally, it would be great if she can get till the gate to see our son off, but I am guessing that might not be possible. Any experiences dropping off a child in BLR?
your wife will only be able to accompany him till the immigration check-in area (but she won't be able to get to the immigration counter)....there will be an ai agent at the check-in counter who will take your son through immigration & then stay with him till he boards the flight....

Originally Posted by ajayr View Post
3) Any experience picking up an unaccompanied minor in LHR? AI 177 lands in T2, and I am assuming I will be able to get till the arrivals area. Where do I have to "report" to? Will there be an AI counter in the arrivals area of T2? I am assuming AI staff will accompany my child through immigration and customs.
i can't comment on lhr but in del my cousin would get permission to come to the immigration area where she would receive her daughter immediately after she cleared immigration....
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Old Sep 13, 19, 11:07 pm
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Thanks for your response!

Originally Posted by Keyser View Post
my suggestion would be to have your wife visit the booking office in the event you don't get the call 3 days out....i don't think they will reach out to you via email....
That's a good recommendation, will follow this in case I do not get the call.
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Old Sep 19, 19, 1:05 pm
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Originally Posted by ajayr View Post
travel was still "quite a while away" and that they might "misplace the documentation for the Unaccompanied Minor".
Probably the only airline in the world which uses a parchi/challan system instead of a computer for a UAM.
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Old Sep 28, 19, 3:19 pm
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Update on this: My son had a comfortable journey to London and reached safely.

I did not receive any call from AI three days before the travel. My wife visited the AI office in BLR and they told that I would get a call on the day of travel (which also never came, eventually).

On the day of travel, my wife dropped my son in the AI ticket counter in the airport. She was not allowed in. The AI staff kept possession of the child's passport and other documents all through the flight. He was made to sit in the AI counter till about an hour before the flight. During the flight he was made to sit in a row full of kids. According to my son, the air hostess was quite kind and even prepared garlic bread and served it to him at his request.

In LHR, I was waiting at arrivals. An AI official accompanied him and after verifying my identity, got my signatures and handed over my son.

Overall my son had a very comfortable, safe journey and was well cared for throughout. Kudos to AI. Wouldn't hesitate to use this service again.
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Old Sep 29, 19, 12:38 pm
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Finally a win for AI on FT!
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