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Children Traveling Alone

What you need to know if your child will fly alone.

Millions of unaccompanied children between the ages of 5 and 12 (called "unaccompanied minors" by the airlines) travel on the major airlines every year. Airlines usually accept these children as passengers but impose restrictions and sometimes extra fees. Before you put your child on an airplane unaccompanied by an adult, learn what the airlines require, what your obligations are as a parent or legal guardian and what you can do to minimize problems during your child's trip.

Airline Requirements and Obligations

Most airlines impose restrictions on unaccompanied minor travel. Here are some of the common ones:

  • Some airlines only allow younger children to travel on nonstop or direct flights.
  • Many will charge a fee of $20-50 if an airline employee must assist a minor in order to change planes.
  • Most require the parent or guardian to fill out a form detailing the child's name, age, medical considerations and other relevant information.
  • Most require the parent or legal guardian to agree that the airline will not take any special responsibility of guardianship during the flight.

Airlines are careful to make clear that they have no obligations to the child before or after the flight. If no parent or guardian is available to pick up the minor at the end of the flight or even in the middle of a trip if a connecting flight is canceled or delayed, some airlines will turn the child over to the local child welfare authorities or the police.

Also, airline personnel cannot turn over an unaccompanied minor to a waiting parent or guardian without seeing the adult's identification and matching it with the information on the form filled out before departure.

Parent and Legal Guardian Requirements

Parents and legal guardians are responsible for bringing the child to the departure gate and having an authorized parent or guardian pick up the child upon arrival.

In order to minimize problems and ease your child's travel experience, follow the tips below.

Tips for Unaccompanied Minors

To minimize difficulties for unaccompanied minors, airlines have the following recommendations for parents or guardians:

  • Fly only nonstop or direct so that the child does not need to change airplanes. If a change of planes is necessary, use a small, less intimidating airport for the transfer, if possible.
  • Completely and clearly fill out all of the paperwork required for unaccompanied minors, especially the paperwork that must travel with the child.
  • Provide information about how flight delays or cancellations should be handled, including emergency contacts and a means to pay for necessities, such as overnight accommodation.

To read and printout a copy of the Form please link below.

Settlement Agreement (Breach of Contract)

You can download a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader here.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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