Legal Tips for Unaccompanied Minors at the Airport

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on March 29, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You'd rather be flying with your kids, but sometimes circumstances don't allow it. Or maybe you trust your children and are sending them on an adventure. Either way, sending your unaccompanied minor to the airport, and onto a plane, can be fraught with legal and emotional issues.

Here's what you need to know about unaccompanied minors flying on their own:

Travel Pricing and Fees

Unaccompanied minors will normally get some extra attention from airlines, in the form of additional identifying or ticket information on their person, supervision while at the airport, and an escort to and from the plane. This extra attention is great, but you can expect to pay a little extra for it.

Most airlines add an additional fee for unaccompanied minors onto the standard ticket price. Some airlines charge a flat rate anywhere from $50 to $150 each way, while others charge extra based on the duration of the flight. You should check with the airline about any additional fees when you book your ticket.

Travel Restrictions

While some airlines may charge extra for unaccompanied minors, others may not allow them to fly at all. Airlines may have travel restrictions that limit the types of flights and itineraries available to children flying alone. This may mean direct flights only without connecting or changing planes, no redeyes or last flights of the day, or barring them from oft-delayed or cancelled flights.

Again, restrictions can vary by airline so confirm any travel information when booking.

Travel Day

Some airlines may have additional forms or requirements on the day of travel, like confirmation of who will meet the child at his or her destination. And unaccompanied minors may have more difficulty navigating the airport or finding their way to the plane, even with an escort. This means you should be prepared to arrive even earlier for the flight than normal.

Airlines may also require a parent or guardian to remain at the airport until the flight has departed. And unaccompanied minors will have similar delays in getting off the plane and finding their way to meet you if you're at their destination, which means you may have to stay later than expected. So build some extra time before and after the flight into your itinerary.

If you have more questions about unaccompanied minors at the airport, or if your child suffered an injury while traveling on an airline, you may want to talk to an aviation attorney near you.

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