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Unaccompanied children

Getting your kids from A to B without you

Bundling your kids onto a flight by themselves can be a rather daunting experience for both parent and child. The last thing anyone wants is a real-life Home Alone scenario, which is why airlines ensure that underage passengers are escorted and monitored at all times. These Unaccompanied Minor services must be requested at the booking stage, with a surcharge usually being added to the standard adult fare.

Most carriers require that an adult drop off the child at the check-in counter and wait in the airport until their flight has departed. Airline staff will then chaperone the young flyer through every stage of their journey. Upon arrival at the destination, minors will only be released into the custody of a pre-approved adult with photo ID.

It's best to check with your airline prior to requesting this service as conditions vary according to the carrier and destination, with restrictions applying to routes in France and Portugal in particular. To check the details of your airline's Unaccompanied Minor service, simply consult our handy table below.

AirlineChild faresUnaccompanied Travel(quoted charges are for international/ long-haul flights)
Aer Lingus2-11, on transatlantic routesChildren under 12 are not permitted to travel alone on Aer Lingus flights. Those aged 12 to 15 can do so, but their parent or guardian must sign a Form of Indemnity.
Air France2-12 on France and overseas departments and territories flights and up to 15 on international routesChildren aged between 4 and 11 can travel unaccompanied on France flights and overseas departments and territories flights. On international flights the age range is 5-14 years. Unaccompanied Minor Assistance fee applies.
Air New Zealand2-11Children under 12 can travel as unaccompanied minors. 5 to 11-year-olds may go as UMs on same day domestic NZ flights or one single sector international flight. No-one under the age of 5 may travel alone. Travel as an UM is charged at the best available adult fare.
American Airlines2-11Children aged between 5 and 11 may travel alone. Unaccompanied Minor Assistance is required. The fee is $150/CAD 150 plus tax each way.
British Airways2-11, some routesChildren aged 5 to 12 can travel alone but must be registered with BA's Skyflyer Solo service (fee of $100 each way applies). Otherwise, they must be accompanied by an adult aged 16 or over. Restrictions apply to journeys which include a stop-over lasting more than six hours.
Cathay Pacific2-11Children aged between 6 and 12 must register as Unaccompanied Minors in order to travel alone. Those aged 12 to 18 can also make use of the service by request, while kids under 6 are not allowed to fly without an adult. Restrictions apply to journeys which include a stop-over lasting more than five hours. Fee of $64 applies.
Delta2-12, on international routesAn Unaccompanied Minors service is available for children between 5 and 14. Those aged 5 to 7 can only travel on nonstop flights, while some connecting services are open to older kids (8-14).
easyJetInfants onlyeasyJet does not accept unaccompanied minors under the age of 14 for travel.
Emirates2-11Children aged 5 to 11 are classified as unaccompanied minors and are cared for by dedicated ground staff.
Gulf Air2-11Children aged between 5 and 11, travelling alone, must be booked in advance as an unaccompanied minor.
Jet2.comInfants onlyChildren under the age of 14 can only travel with a person aged 16 years or older.
KLM2-11The Unaccompanied Minor service (reserve through KLM reservations) is available to 5 to 14 year olds. 15 to 17 year olds may opt to fly as UMs, but can also travel independently. €75 surcharge applies each way.
Lufthansa2-12Unaccompanied children ages 5-11 must make use of the airline's supervision service, or travel with someone who is at least 12 years of age. 12 to 17-year-olds can also be looked after at the request of a parent or guardian. Fee of €80 each way applies.
Malaysian Airlines2-11Special Assistance programmes for children aged between 5 and 14.
MonarchInfant fares, no child discountsMonarch does not allow unaccompanied children under 16 to travel on its flights.
Qantas2-11The parents of children aged between 5 and 11 who are travelling alone must fill out an Unaccompanied Minor form. Children aged between 12 and 15 may travel as unaccompanied minors.
Qatar Airways2-11Escort Service is available to children between the ages of 5 and 15 years.
Royal Brunei Airlines2-11Children aged between 6 and 11 travelling alone are considered “Unaccompanied Minors” and pay the full published fare.
RyanairInfant fares onlyRyanair does not permit children under 16 to travel unaccompanied.
Singapore Airlines2-11Children aged 5 to 12 must travel in the Unaccompanied Minors programme. It's optional for passengers aged between 12 and 18. Download the "UM Handling form" from the website and then contact the local Singapore Airlines office.
Thai Airways2-11Children aged 5 to 12 must register as unaccompanied minors if travelling alone. Any unaccompanied minor needs to travel on an adult published fare ticket. The Unaccompanied Minor Form needs to be completed and a fee of $60 per flight applies.
Thomas Cook AirlinesInfant fares onlyUnaccompanied minors between 5 and 12 require special assistance. It's also open to minors aged between 12 and 15. Fee is €50 per child per flight. Request in advance via the Contact Centre.
US Airways2-14Kids aged 5 to 11 can travel unaccompanied on direct flights, with assistance from US Airways staff. Assistance is available but not required for 12 to 17-year-olds. The fee is $150 each way.
Virgin Atlantic2-11Children aged 5 to 15 are allowed to fly unaccompanied. Arrange this via Reservations or a travel agent, not online.

Updated May 2014

Oonagh Shiel
Content Manager at Cheapflights whose travel life can be best summed up as BC (before children) and PC (post children). We only travel during the school holidays so short-haul trips and staycations are our specialities!