The Ultimate Guide to Unaccompanied Minors: Part 1 – North American Airline Policies

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Sending children to fly by themselves as Unaccompanied Minors is a big milestone for kids and parents alike.

If it’s your first time booking your children to fly solo on paid or award tickets, airline regulations, procedures, and fees can be confusing.  Each airline is different, and it’s important to be aware of the rules before you book!

Unaccompanied Minors Airlines

Sending Your Kids Solo? You’ll Need to Know Your Airline’s Unaccompanied Minor Policies Before You Make Their Reservation!

So I’ve created a handy list of Unaccompanied Minor policies for major North American airlines.

Airline Unaccompanied Minor Policies

Before you book your child’s flight, it’s important to consider:

  • Age restrictions for Unaccompanied Minor travel
  • Routing rules (for example: non-stop, direct, or connecting flights, not the last flight of day, partner or codeshare flights included)
  • Fees (you’ll pay extra to send your child by themselves)
  • Identification requirements (for children and folks dropping-off and picking-up)
  • Booking method (online, by phone, or through a travel agent)
  • Other restrictions (like medical or dietary conditions, traveling with a pet, etc)

And most importantly, is your child mature and experienced enough to handle a flight on their own?  You know your child best, but it’s NOT a good idea to send them solo if they’re not used to flying or are nervous being by themselves!

Here are the Unaccompanied Minor policies for major North American airlines.

1.   Air Canada

Link:   Air Canada

Link:   Air Canada Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied Minors Airlines

Air Canada Allows Children Aged 8 to 17 to Travel As Unaccompanied Minors on Non-Stop Flights Only

a.   Age Restrictions

If your child is:

  • Under 8 years old – must travel with an accompanying adult aged 16 or older
  • 8 to 11 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is mandatory
  • 12 to 17 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is optional
b.   Routing Rules

Unaccompanied Minors may only travel on non-stop flights operated by Air Canada or Air Canada Express.  Partner or codeshare flights are NOT eligible.

c.   Fees

There’s a fee of $100 per child each way for Unaccompanied Minor service.  This provides escort by an Air Canada employee at the departure and arrival airports, and includes a meal or hot snack onboard.

At some airports, parents / guardians may accompany their child to the departure gate.  You must remain in the airport until the flight departs.

d.   Identification Requirements
  • For children:   Birth certificate (original) on flights within Canada, valid passport for international flights
  • For parents / guardians (picking-up and dropping-off):   Government issued photo identification
e.   Booking Method

Contact Air Canada Reservations or your travel agent to book.

f.   Other Restrictions

Air Canada will NOT accept Unaccompanied Minors who:

  • Are blind or deaf
  • Have a severe peanut or cat allergy
  • Have a medical condition that hasn’t been cleared by the Air Canada Medical Assistance desk (call 800-667-4732)
  • Are traveling with a pet

2.   Alaska Airlines

Link:   Alaska Airlines

Link:   Alaska Airlines Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied Minors Airlines

Alaska Airlines Will Accept Unaccompanied Minors as Young as Age 5, but There Are Important Restrictions

a.   Age Restrictions

If your child is:

  • Under 5 years old – must travel with an accompanying adult aged 18 or older
  • 5 to 12 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is mandatory
  • 13 to 17 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is optional
b.   Routing Rules

Unaccompanied Minors may only travel:

  • 5 to 7 years old:  On non-stop or direct flights
  • 8 to 12 years old:   May book flights involving transfers or connections on Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, SkyWest Flight Series 3440-3499, PenAir, or Ravn Alaska only
  • 13 to 17 years old:   No restrictions, but if connecting to another airline requiring Unaccompanied Minor service, Alaska Airlines service is mandatory and an adult must meet them at the connection point to make the transfer to the other airline.

For all Unaccompanied Minors, travel may not begin between 9:00 pm and 5:00 am.  And if the flight involves a connection, the layover may not be more than 2 hours and the connecting flight must NOT be the last flight of the day (unless no other options are available).

c.   Fees

There’s a fee of $25 per child each way for non-stop or direct flights, or $50 each way for connecting flights.  You’re required to escort your child to the gate at most airports (some international airports do not allow this, in which case your child will be brought to the gate by Alaska Airlines staff).

Parents / guardians must remain at the gate or in the airport until the flight departs.

d.   Identification Requirements
  • For children:   You may be asked to show a birth certificate on domestic flights, valid passport required for international flights
  • For parents / guardians (picking-up and dropping-off):   Valid photo identification
e.   Booking Method

You can book Unaccompanied Minors on the Alaska Airlines website by selecting “0” adults and the number of children flying.  It’s your responsibility to ensure other booking regulations are met.

Or call Alaska Airlines Reservations at 800-252-7522.

f.   Other Restrictions

Alaska Airlines will NOT accept Unaccompanied Minors if weather or other factors are likely to interrupt their safe travel to destination or a connection point.

Also:

  • If there’s an unplanned travel interruption, Alaska Airlines requires a guardian’s authorization before rebooking a child
  • Alaska Airlines will not administer or control your child’s medication
  • If your child becomes ill, Alaska Airlines will attempt to reach one of the guardians (or will contact medical personnel in event of serious illness)

3.   American Airlines

Link:   American Airlines

Link:   American Airlines Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied Minors Airlines

Children Age 5 and up Can Fly As Unaccompanied Minors on Certain American Airlines Flights, but There’s a $150 (Plus Tax) Fee Each Way

a.   Age Restrictions

If your child is:

  • 2 to 5 years old – must travel with an accompanying adult aged 16 or older
  • 5 to 14 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is mandatory
  • 15 to 17 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is optional
b.   Routing Rules

Unaccompanied Minors may only travel:

  • 5 to 7 years old:  On non-stop or direct flights
  • 8 to 14 years old:  On any non-stop or direct flight, or any connecting flight through Charlotte, Washington, DC (DCA), Dallas – Fort Worth (DFW), New York (JFK and LGA), Los Angeles , Miami, Chicago (ORD), Philadelphia (PHL) and Phoenix
  • 13 to 17 years old:   No restrictions, but if connecting to another airline requiring Unaccompanied Minor service, Alaska Airlines service is mandatory and an adult must meet them at the connection point to make the transfer to the other airline.

And American Airlines will not accept Unaccompanied Minors if the itinerary involves:

  • A connection to or from another airline (including codeshare and oneworld partners)
  • Ground / co-terminal connections (Unaccompanied Minors under 15 years can’t use ground transportation alone)
  • The last flight of the day from the last connection city (unless it’s the only option available)
  • Overnight connecting flights, unless it’s the only flight offered
c.   Fees

There’s a fee of $150 + tax per child each way.  However, if 2 or more Unaccompanied Minors from the same family are traveling together on the same flights, you’ll only have to pay one $150 fee.

Parents / guardians must remain at the gate or in the airport until the flight departs.

d.   Identification Requirements
  • For children:   You may be asked to show a birth certificate on domestic flights, valid passport required for international flights
  • For parents / guardians (picking-up and dropping-off):   Valid photo identification
e.   Booking Method

You must book Unaccompanied Minors by calling American Airlines reservations at 800-433-7300.

f.   Other Restrictions

If your child is traveling internationally, you may be required to provide a Letter of Consent.

And if flights change or are cancelled, or if there are delays that make it likely that the Unaccompanied Minor won’t make a connecting flight, American Airlines will call the contacts on the Unaccompanied Minor form and make alternate arrangements if required.

4.   Delta

Link:   Delta

Link:   Delta Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied Minors Airlines

a.   Age Restrictions

If your child is:

  • Under 5 years old – must travel with an accompanying adult aged 18 or older
  • 5 to 14 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is mandatory
  • 15 to 17 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is optional
b.   Routing Rules

Unaccompanied Minors may only travel:

  • 5 to 7 years old:  On non-stop flights only
  • 8 to 14 years old:  On non-stop or connecting flights
  • 15 to 17 years old:   On non-stop or connecting flights

And Delta’s Unaccompanied Minor program only allows flights on Delta and Delta connection.  Or connecting flights on Delta, Delta connection, Air France, and KLM.

Additionally:

  • Unaccompanied minors can NOT travel on the last connecting flight of the day (unless it’s the only connection offered)
  • Red-eye (between 9:00 pm and 5:00 am) flights are NOT permitted, unless a qualifying connection flight isn’t available from the airport (for international flights, short-haul domestic flights under 2 hours, flights to or from Alaska or Hawaii)
c.   Fees

There’s a fee of $150 per child each way.  However, up to 4 children can travel together and pay one $150 fee.

Parents / guardians must remain at the gate or in the airport until the flight departs.

d.   Identification Requirements
  • For children:   You may be asked to show a birth certificate on domestic flights, valid passport required for international flights
  • For parents / guardians (picking-up and dropping-off):   Valid photo identification
e.   Booking Method

You can book Unaccompanied Minors online, through a travel agent, or by calling Delta reservations at 800-221-1212.

If you book online or through a travel agent, you’ll have to call Delta reservations afterwards to complete the Unaccompanied Minor booking process.

f.   Other Restrictions

If it looks like your child’s flights won’t operate as scheduled, Delta will contact you and arrange for a rebooking.

And if there’s a delay or cancellation enroute, Delta will notify you and the person picking your child up.  They’ll rebook the child on the next available flight and arrange for accommodation, food, and supervision should there be an overnight delay.

5.   Frontier Airlines

Link:   Frontier Airlines

Link:   Frontier Airlines Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied Minors Airlines

Children Ages 5 to 14 Can Travel Unaccompanied on Frontier Airlines, but Only on Non-Stop Flights

a.   Age Restrictions

If your child is:

  • Under 5 years old – must travel with an accompanying adult
  • 5 to 14 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is mandatory
b.   Routing Rules

Unaccompanied Minors may only travel on non-stop flights.

c.   Fees

The Unaccompanied Minor fee is $110 per child each way.  This includes a drink and a snack onboard.

Parents / guardians must remain at the gate or in the airport until the flight departs.

d.   Identification Requirements
  • For children:   You may be asked to show a birth certificate on domestic flights.  Passport required for international flights.
  • For parents / guardians (picking-up and dropping-off):   Valid photo identification
e.   Booking Method

You can book Unaccompanied Minors online or by calling Frontier Airlines reservations at 801-401-9000.

f.   Other Restrictions

Children who are Mexican citizens traveling to or from Mexico must have a notarized letter of consent, court letter, and a departure for minors form.  Contact Frontier Airlines for more details.

6.   Hawaiian Airlines

Link:   Hawaiian Airlines

Link:   Hawaiian Airlines Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied Minors Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines Accepts Unaccompanied Minors on Domestic Flights, but NOT International

a.   Age Restrictions

If your child is:

  • Under 5 years old – must travel with an accompanying adult
  • 5 to 11 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is mandatory
  • 12 to 17 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is optional
b.   Routing Rules

Unaccompanied Minors aged 5 to 11 years old may only travel on domestic flights.  However, they can be non-stop, direct, or connecting to / from Hawaiian Airlines only.

Children over 12 may travel on international flights, but not as an Unaccompanied Minor.

Also:

  • Flights departing between 9:00 pm and 5:00 am are NOT permitted, unless the flight departs from Honolulu and is the only flight of the day
  • Codeshare or connecting flights on another airline are NOT allowed, except for ‘Ohana by Hawaiian operated by Empire Airlines
  • Unaccompanied minors can’t travel on the last connecting flight of the day, or have connections more than 2 hours (unless that’s the only option)
c.   Fees

The Unaccompanied Minor fee depends on the routing.  For flights within Hawaii, it’s $35 per child each way.  On flights between Hawaii and the continental US, it’s $100 per child each way.  You can pay a single fee for up to 2 children traveling together.

Parents / guardians must remain at the gate or in the airport until the flight departs.

d.   Identification Requirements
  • For children:   You may be asked to show a birth certificate on domestic flights, valid passport required for international flights
  • For parents / guardians (picking-up and dropping-off):   Valid photo identification
e.   Booking Method

You can book Unaccompanied Minors online or by calling Hawaiian Airlines reservations at 800-367-5320.

f.   Other Restrictions

If a flight or connection looks like it will be delayed, Hawaiian Airlines may rebook your child on a different flight or date.

7.   JetBlue

Link:   JetBlue

Link:   JetBlue Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied Minors Airlines

Your Child Can Fly JetBlue as an Unaccompanied Minor From Age 5 to 13 – but Only on Non-Stop Flights

a.   Age Restrictions

If your child is:

  • Age 2 to 5 years old – must travel with an accompanying adult age 15 or older
  • 5 to 14 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is mandatory
  • 14 to 17 years old – No Unaccompanied Minor Service, but you can call JetBlue at 800-538-2583 to arrange for assistance
b.   Routing Rules

Unaccompanied Minors may only travel on non-stop JetBlue flights.  Direct flights (which stop without a plane change) and connecting flights are NOT allowed.

c.   Fees

The Unaccompanied Minor fee is $100 per child each way.

Parents / guardians must remain at the gate or in the airport until the child is onboard the aircraft, and must leave a cell phone number in the event the plane returns to the gate.

d.   Identification Requirements
  • For children:   No identification required for domestic flights, valid passport required for international flights
  • For parents / guardians (picking-up and dropping-off):   Valid photo identification
e.   Booking Method

You can book Unaccompanied Minors online or by calling JetBlue reservations at 800-538-2583.

f.   Other Restrictions

For international travel, check for destination – specific requirements.  Many countries require legal documentation, such as notarized letters.  You can see all the rules here.

JetBlue allows a maximum of 3 Unaccompanied Minors per flight.

8.   Southwest

Link:   Southwest

Link:   Southwest Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied Minors Airlines

Southwest Accepts Unaccompanied Minors on Domestic Itineraries Between Age 5 and 11

a.   Age Restrictions

If your child is:

  • Under 5 years old – must travel with an accompanying adult
  • 5 to 11 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is mandatory, unless traveling with someone age 12 or older
  • 14 to 17 years old – No Unaccompanied Minor Service
b.   Routing Rules

Unaccompanied Minors may only travel on non-stop or direct (stops, but no plane change) Southwest flights.

And Unaccompanied Minors may NOT fly on international flights.

c.   Fees

The Unaccompanied Minor fee is $50 per child each way.

Parents / guardians must remain at the gate or in the airport until the flight has taken off.

d.   Identification Requirements
  • For children:   Birth certificate or other identification showing the child’s age
  • For parents / guardians (picking-up and dropping-off):   Valid government issued photo identification
e.   Booking Method

You can book Unaccompanied Minors online or by calling Southwest reservations at 800-435-9792.

f.   Other Restrictions

Southwest won’t accept Unaccompanied Minors on flights that may get diverted or cancelled.

Be sure to send your child with food or snacks, because Southwest doesn’t offer a meal service.

9.   Spirit

Link:   Spirit

Link:   Spirit Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied Minors Airlines

Unaccompanied Minors Can Fly Non-Stop Spirit Flights Within the US and to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands

a.   Age Restrictions

If your child is:

  • Under 5 years old – must travel with an accompanying adult aged 15 or older
  • 5 to 14 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is mandatory, unless traveling with someone age 15 or older
  • 15 to 17 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is optional
b.   Routing Rules

Unaccompanied Minors may only travel on non-stop or direct (stops, but no plane change) Spirit flights.

International flights are NOT allowed.  However, unaccompanied minors may travel on flights to / from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

c.   Fees

Spirit charges a fee of $100 per child each way.  This includes an onboard snack and drink.

Parents / guardians must remain at the gate or in the airport until the flight has taken off.

d.   Identification Requirements
  • For children:   Birth certificate or other identification showing the child’s age
  • For parents / guardians (picking-up and dropping-off):   Valid government issued photo identification
e.   Booking Method

You can book your Unaccompanied Minor online or by phone at 801-401-2222.

f.   Other Restrictions

Children aged 15 or older traveling on international flights require a passport and a notarized letter of consent, plus additional travel documents depending on the country.

10.   United Airlines

Link:   United Airlines

Link:   United Airlines Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied Minors Airlines

Children Aged 5 to 15 Must Travel as Unaccompanied Minors on United Airlines

a.   Age Restrictions

If your child is:

  • Under 5 years old – must travel with an accompanying adult aged 18 or older
  • 5 to 15 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is mandatory, unless traveling with someone age 18 or older
  • 16 to 17 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is not available
b.   Routing Rules

Unaccompanied Minors may only travel on non-stop flights operated by United Airlines or United Express.

International flights are allowed.

c.   Fees

You’ll pay a fee of $150 per child each way.  This includes an onboard food item on flights that offer food for purchase.

You can book up to 9 children on the same reservation (as long as departure and arrival flights are the same) and pay a single fee.

Parents / guardians must remain at the gate or in the airport until the flight has taken off.

d.   Identification Requirements
  • For children:   A passport is required for international flights
  • For parents / guardians (picking-up and dropping-off):   Valid photo identification
e.   Booking Method

United Airlines lets you book Unaccompanied Minors online or by phone at 800-864-8331.  There’s a $25 fee for phone reservations.

f.   Other Restrictions

If your child’s flight is delayed or cancelled, United Airlines will make alternate arrangements.

11.   Virgin America

Link:   Virgin America

Link:   Virgin America Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied Minors Airlines

Children Flying Virgin America Will Enjoy the In-Flight Entertainment and Fun Service

a.   Age Restrictions

If your child is:

  • 2 to 4 old – must travel with an accompanying adult aged 12 or older
  • 5 to 11 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is mandatory, unless traveling with someone age 12 or older
  • 12 to 17 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is optional
b.   Routing Rules

Virgin America only allows Unaccompanied Minor travel on non-stop Virgin America flights (not connecting or through flights).

International flights are allowed, but special documentation may be required.

c.   Fees

Virgin America’s Unaccompanied Minor fee depends on the route:

  • $75 for short-haul flights (under 2 hours)
  • $100 for medium and long-haul flights (over 2 hours)
  • $125 for international (Mexico) flights

The fee includes a snack on short-haul flights, and a snack, fresh food item, and free movie on longer flights.

Parents / guardians must remain at the gate or in the airport until the flight has taken off.

d.   Identification Requirements
  • For children:   A passport is required for international flights
  • For parents / guardians (picking-up and dropping-off):   Valid photo identification
e.   Booking Method

To book an Unaccompanied Minor on Virgin America, you must call their reservations line at 877-359-8474.  They’ll waive the phone booking fee.

f.   Other Restrictions

If your child requires medical assistance or needs medication dispensed to them, they may not be eligible to fly as an Unaccompanied Minor.  Contact Virgin America for more details.

12.   WestJet

Link:   WestJet

Link:   WestJet Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied Minors Airlines

Sending Your Child Unaccompanied on WestJet? They Might Get to Fly on a Disney-Themed Plane!

a.   Age Restrictions

If your child is:

  • Under 8 years old – must travel with an accompanying adult
  • 8 to 11 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is mandatory
  • 12 to 17 years old – Unaccompanied Minor Service is optional
b.   Routing Rules

Unaccompanied Minors may only travel on non-stop or direct flights within Canada operated by WestJet.

International flights are NOT allowed.  However, WestJet has a guardian fare program which allows parents / guardians to travel with a child to their destination (including international) at a reduced rate, then immediately return to their departure city.

Also:

  • Red-eye (overnight) flights are not permitted
  • Flights must not depart before 5:30 am or arrive after 10:00 pm (unless it’s the only flight of the day to a destination)
c.   Fees

You’ll pay a fee of $100 per child each way.  This includes an snack, drink, headset, and onboard food item (on flights with food for purchase).

Parents / guardians must remain at the gate or in the airport until the flight has taken off.

d.   Identification Requirements
  • For children:   A photocopy of the child’s birth certificate or another piece of government issued identification showing the child’s date of birth and gender
  • For parents / guardians (picking-up and dropping-off):   Valid government issued photo identification
e.   Booking Method

WestJet requires you submit an Unaccompanied Minor request form online.  They’ll review the request and get back to you within 24 hours.  Then you’ll have 24 hours to complete the reservation and pay the Unaccompanied Minor fee.

f.   Other Restrictions

WestJet will only accept up to 4 Unaccompanied Minors per flight

And they won’t accept children who:

  • Are deaf or blind
  • Require an emotional support or service animal
  • Have an allergy that requires them to travel with an epinephrine auto-injector (like an Epi‑pen)
  • Require assistance to take essential medication
  • Have a disability which requires them to travel with a familiar guardian (however you could book a guardian fare)
  • Are not able to communicate in English or French

Bottom Line

Sending your child to travel as an Unaccompanied Minor is an exciting adventure!  Be sure your child is mature enough to fly alone before you consider booking them on a solo trip.

Each airline has different age limits, restrictions, and fees.  It’s best to check the airline’s most current policies before you book your child’s travel.

And remember to sign-your child up for the airline’s frequent flyer program so they can get a head start on earning miles and points!

Stay tuned for my next post on Unaccompanied Minor policies for international airlines!

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4 responses to “The Ultimate Guide to Unaccompanied Minors: Part 1 – North American Airline Policies

  1. We had an interesting experience on Southwest Monday. We were in the ST. Louis airport at our connecting gate when they announced there would be a one hour delay due to a minor needing to make the flight. They were flying her to St Louis so she could catch the flight. She appeared to be 12 or 13.

  2. The photo looks like it may be Emily!