Big Kids: 7-9 • Tweens: 10-12 • Teens: 13-17

What Are the Regulations & Rules for Kids Flying Alone?

Teenager's Sneakers on Suitcase at Airport; Courtesy of cunaplus/Shutterstock.com

For anyone who needs to send their children to grandma’s or an ex’s house that’s not within driving distance, allowing kids to fly alone is inevitable. Whether or not you feel your child is ready to fly without your assistance, the airlines have their own regulations. We detail them here so you have everything you need to make an educated decision. In all cases, you will either be required to or have the choice to pay for your child to fly as an Unaccompanied Minor, receiving special assistance from flight attendants and other safety measures.

American Airlines

Ages: Children 5 to 17 may fly alone, but children 5 to 7 may only travel on nonstop/direct flights and are not allowed to connect. Children 8 to 14 can fly alone on select connecting flights. When children 5 to 14 fly alone, you are required to purchase the Unaccompanied Minor service. Children 15 to 17 are not required to use this service (no fee is applied), but it can be requested in which case a fee will be applied. Children 2 to 14 can travel as an unaccompanied minor with someone 16 years or older.
Fee: The Unaccompanied Minor service fee per child is $150 each way, in addition to airfare, snacks and meals. Note: The airline does not accept cash for snack or beverage purchases.
Service Includes: Agents will help children get settled into their seats prior to regular passenger boarding, and will continue to provide children with help during the flight.
Booking: Reservations must be made through the reservations line and not online, although electronic ticketing is available.
Special Notes: Children may not fly on the last connection, and may not connect to or from another airline.
Forms: An Unaccompanied Minor form must be completed by a parent at the ticket counter. Children under 18 may need to have proof of age, such as a birth certificate or passport.
Parents: One parent may obtain a boarding pass from the ticket counter to pass through security and accompany their child to the gate, and are required to stay at the gate until the flight has departed. One parent or family member will also receive a boarding pass to bypass security at the final destination.
International Flights: Parents will need to complete Customs and Immigration forms pre-flight. International flights may not allow parents to bypass security, in which case an airline representative will escort your child to the gate, and remain with your child until the flight departs.
See American Airlines’ official rules for unaccompanied minors.

Delta

Ages: Children 5 to 17 may travel unaccompanied, but children 5 to 7 may only travel on nonstop/direct flights and are not allowed to connect. Children 8 and up may fly on connecting flights operated by Delta. When children 5 to 14 fly alone, you are required to purchase the Unaccompanied Minor service. Children 15 to 17 are not required to use the Unaccompanied Minor service (no fee is applied), but this service can be requested, in which case a fee will be applied. Travel is not permitted on the last flight of the day or on red eye flights unless they are international or flights to/from Alaska and Hawaii.
Fee: The Unaccompanied Minor fee is $150 one way, in addition to airfare, snacks and meals. Four or more children from the same family traveling together will be charged only once.
Service Includes: Agents will help children get settled into their seats prior to regular passenger boarding, and will continue to provide children with help during the flight.
Booking: Reservations can be made online, but you’ll need to contact the Reservations line to add the unaccompanied minor’s flight information.
Special Notes: Kids flying alone can enjoy the Delta Sky Zone at a number of airports while waiting for a flight, where books, TVs, games and toys are provided. These can be found in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, JFK in New York, Los Angeles, Memphis, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City.
Forms: An Unaccompanied Minor form must be completed by a parent at the ticket counter. Children under 18 may need to have proof of age, such as a birth certificate or passport.
Parents: One parent may obtain a boarding pass from the ticket counter to pass through security and accompany their child to the gate, and are required to stay at the gate until the flight has departed. One parent or family member will also receive a boarding pass to bypass security at the final destination.
See Delta’s official rules for unaccompanied minors.

Frontier Airlines

Ages: Children ages 5 to 14 are considered unaccompanied minors on Frontier Airlines. They may fly on any non-stop Frontier flight, including international flights. Minors are not permitted to travel on connecting flights.
Fee: The Unaccompanied Minor service fee is $110 one-way.
Service Includes: The service fee includes gate access for guardians at drop-off; a lanyard with a card indicating the child’s destination; hand-off from gate agent to flight attendant; an in-flight beverage and snack; gate agent oversight of the unaccompanied minor for as long as the child is not picked up at the gate on time by the guardian; and a gate issuance pass for guardians at pick-up.
Booking: Reservations can be made online.
Forms: An Unaccompanied Minor form must be completed; it’s best to download and fill out the form prior to arrival. Children ages 15 to 17 are not required to have identification, though it’s best to bring a form of ID for the child, regardless of age.
Parents: A guardian may obtain a boarding pass (included in service fee) from the ticket counter to pass through security and accompany their child to the gate. One family member will also receive a boarding pass to bypass security at the child’s final destination.
See Frontier Airlines’ official rules for unaccompanied minors

JetBlue

Ages: Children 5 to 14 may travel alone, but children 5 to 14 may only travel on nonstop/direct flights and are not allowed to connect. A child between ages 2 and 13 can fly escorted by a customer who is at least 14 years old.
Fee: The Unaccompanied Minor service fee is $100 each way, in addition to airfare, snacks and meals, per child.
Service Includes: Agents will help children get settled into their seats prior to regular passenger boarding, and will continue to provide children with help during the flight.
Booking: Reservations can be made online or over the phone.
Special Notes: Kids flying alone are seated in row 25 on A320s and E190s and row 32 on A321s so crew members can assist them during the flight.
Forms: An Unaccompanied Minor form must be completed by a parent at the ticket counter, which will remain with the child throughout his or her travels. Children under 18 may need to have proof of age, such as a birth certificate or passport.
Parents: One parent may obtain a boarding pass from the ticket counter to pass through security and accompany their child to the gate, and are required to stay at the gate until the flight has departed. One parent or family member will also receive a boarding pass to bypass security at the final destination. Parents will need to show a photo ID at both drop-off and pick-up.
See JetBlue’s official rules for unaccompanied minors.

Spirit Airlines

Ages: Children 5 to 17 may travel solo, but children 5 to 14 may only travel on nonstop/direct flights and are not allowed to connect. When children 5 to 14 fly alone, they are required to purchase the Unaccompanied Minor service. Children 15 and up are not required to use the Unaccompanied Minor service (thereby no fee is applied), but this service can be requested, in which case a fee will be applied.
Fee: The Unaccompanied Minor service fee is $100 each way, in addition to airfare, snacks and meals. Two or more children from the same family traveling together will be charged only once.
Service Includes: Agents will help children flying alone get settled into their seats prior to regular passenger boarding, and will continue to provide children with help during the flight.
Booking: Reservations must be made through the reservations line and not online, although electronic ticketing is available.
Forms: An Unaccompanied Minor form must be completed by a parent at the ticket counter. Children under 18 may need to have proof of age, such as a birth certificate or passport.
Parents: One parent may obtain a boarding pass from the ticket counter to pass through security and accompany their child to the gate, and is required to stay at the gate until the flight has departed. One parent or family member will also receive a boarding pass to bypass security at the final destination.
See Spirit Airlines’ official rules for unaccompanied minors.

Southwest Airlines

Ages: Children 5 to 11 may travel alone, but they may only travel on nonstop/direct flights and are not allowed to connect. No international destinations are permitted for children flying alone.
Fee: The Unaccompanied Minor service fee is $50 each way or $100 round-trip, per child, in addition to airfare, snacks and meals.
Service Includes: Agents will help children flying alone get settled into their seats prior to regular passenger boarding, and will continue to provide children with help during the flight.
Booking: Reservations can be made online or over the phone.
Forms: An Unaccompanied Minor form must be completed by a parent at the ticket counter, which will remain with the child throughout his or her travels. Children under 18 may need to have proof of age, such as a birth certificate or passport.
Parents: One parent may obtain a boarding pass from the ticket counter to pass through security and accompany their child to the gate, and are required to stay at the gate until the flight has departed. One parent or family member will also receive a boarding pass to bypass security at the final destination.
See Southwest Airlines’ official rules for unaccompanied minors.

United Airlines

Ages: Children 5 to 15 may travel unaccompanied, but may only travel on nonstop flights and are not allowed to connect. Children 16 and 17 are not required to use the Unaccompanied Minor service (thereby no fee is applied), but this service can be requested for children, in which case a fee will be applied.
Fee: The Unaccompanied Minor service fee is $150 each way, in addition to airfare, snacks and meals. Two or more children from the same family traveling together will be charged only once.
Service Includes: Agents will help kids flying alone get settled into their seats prior to regular passenger boarding, and will continue to provide children with help during the flight.
Booking: Reservations can be made online, through reservations or through a travel agent.
Forms: An Unaccompanied Minor Request for Carriage form must be completed by a parent at the ticket counter. Children under 18 may need to have proof of age, such as a birth certificate or passport.
Parents: One parent may obtain a boarding pass from the ticket counter to pass through security and accompany their child to the gate, and are required to stay at the gate until the flight has departed from the gate. One parent or family member will also receive a boarding pass to bypass security at the final destination.
See United Airlines’ official rules for unaccompanied minors.

Travel Tips for Unaccompanied Minors

  • If your child has never flown before, visit the airport to introduce him or her to the surroundings. On the day of departure, also let agents know if this is your child’s first flight alone.
  • Be sure your child has proper ID (even if it’s not required by the airline) and cash on him or her. Also pack a blanket, pillow, snacks, and any other creature comforts.
  • Keep carry-on baggage to a minimum so your child doesn’t have to carry or keep track of too much.
  • Personally introduce your child to the agents at the ticket counter and departure gate.

For more information, check out Children Flying Alone: What Every Parent Should Know About Unaccompanied Minors.

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