Sending your child on a flight by themselves can be an exciting (and nerve-wracking) experience.
Whether they’ve been flying with you since babyhood or just getting their travel legs now, it’s very important for you and your child to be prepared for travel as an unaccompanied minor.
In the U.S., airlines have a wide array of rules and costs when it comes to young flyers traveling alone. Let’s take a look at each airline’s policy to see exactly what you need to know before your big kid takes to the skies on their own.
Unaccompanied Minor Basics
For countless reasons, you may find sending your child on a flight by themselves makes sense for you and your family.
Whether they are going to meet up with their other parent, grandparents, friends, family, school, or summer camp, being prepared will help ensure a safe and comfortable trip.
Although rules vary by airline, in most cases, an unaccompanied minor is a child between the ages of 5 and 14. You can expect to pay up to $150 for an unaccompanied service from the airline to help with the travel logistics.
Below is a chart to take a quick view of policies followed by a more in-depth breakdown of each airline.
Unaccompanied Minor Policies
*prices shown are for one-way flights in addition to the price of the ticket
Alaska Airlines has Junior Jetsetters, an unaccompanied minor service for kids ages 5 to 17 on both domestic and international flights.
When flying with Alaska, Junior Jettsetters will receive a lanyard and a wristband so that staff and crew can easily identify them. Kids will receive early boarding and a special safety briefing to make sure they are familiar with the emergency protocols.
Your child will be supervised for their entire journey for $50 on nonstop flights. Kids ages 8 to 17 can fly a more complex itinerary with connections for $75.
Junior Jetsetters who have attained MVP, MVP Gold, Gold 75K, or Gold 100K Mileage Plan status will have these fees waived.
Parents or guardians can escort the child all the way to the gate as long as they have obtained an escort pass at the ticket counter.
To book a ticket for an unaccompanied minor on Alaska Airlines, you must call 800-252-7522.
Hot Tip: Unaccompanied minors cannot fly to or from Sun Valley (SUN) in Idaho between December 1 and April 1 annually due to severe weather often impacting flights.
Allegiant Air does not allow unaccompanied minors.
The airline considers anyone 15 and older an adult. So anyone under the age of 15 must be accompanied by an adult ticketed on the same reservation.
American Airlines provides an unaccompanied minor service for children ages 5 to 14, which is optional for kids ages 15 to 17. The cost is $150, which covers the cost of siblings as well, if needed.
The AA unaccompanied minor service includes early boarding to get comfortable and meet the flight attendants, kids-only lounge access (in select cities), Kids’ Kits from Quaker with snacks and activities (for ages 5 to 10 in hub cities), and an escort for connecting and arriving flights.
If your child has a connecting flight, they will have access to an unaccompanied minor lounge in the following airports:
- Charlotte (CLT)
- Chicago (ORD)
- Dallas (DFW)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Miami (MIA)
- New York (JFK and LGA)
- Philadelphia (PHL)
- Phoenix (PHX)
- Washington, D.C. (DCA)
For international flights, rules vary by age and destination and can be found on AA.com.
To book a ticket for an unaccompanied minor on American Airlines, you must call 800-433-7300.
Breeze Airways does not provide an unaccompanied minor service. The airline allows children 13 and older to fly by themselves without an accompanying adult.
Children 13 and older can also accompany younger children without an adult.
Children ages 13 to 17 will need to provide government documentation stating their age.
Delta has an unaccompanied minor program that is available for both domestic and international travel for kids ages 5 to 14 and is optional for kids ages 15 to 17. The service costs $150 each way for up to 4 children.
Only children 8 and older can travel on itineraries with connections. Younger children must be booked on nonstop flights.
Minors traveling with the unaccompanied minor program will receive a trackable wristband, access to the Sky Zone lounge for kids, and a personal escort throughout their travel day.
Sky Zones are children-only areas where children who are flying alone can use the complimentary phones to call their parents, wait for connections, play with toys and video games, and have the support of Delta representatives.
Delta Sky Zones are available in the following airports:
- Atlanta (ATL)
- Cincinnati (CVG)
- Detroit (DTW)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Memphis (MEM)
- Minneapolis-Saint Paul (MSP)
- New York (JFK)
- Salt Lake City (SLC)
- Seattle-Tacoma (SEA)
After check-in, a parent or designated accompanying adult must take the unaccompanied minor to the departure gate and remain until the flight has left the ground. The person meeting the child at the other airport must be registered and provide an ID and signature.
To book a ticket for an unaccompanied minor on Delta Air Lines, you must call 800-325-8847.
Frontier Airlines does not allow unaccompanied minors.
The airline allows anyone 15 and older to fly by themselves. Anyone under the age of 15 must be accompanied by an adult ticketed on the same reservation.
Hawaiian Airlines offers Unaccompanied Minor Service Assistance, but the requirements vary based on age and final destination. The service costs $35 per flight segment on interisland flights and $100 per flight segment on flights between Hawaii and North America for up to 2 children from the same family.
Children ages 5 to 11 are considered unaccompanied minors and must pay for the Unaccompanied Minor Service Assistance. The service is optional for kids ages 12 to 17. Unaccompanied minors are not allowed on international flights.
A child between the ages of 5 to 11 can travel with a passenger 15 or older without Unaccompanied Minor Service Assistance.
At drop-off, the parent or responsible adult must submit a completed Request For Unaccompanied Minor form and inform the airline who will be picking up the child at the arrival airport. Pickup locations vary by airport and can be found on the Hawaiian Airlines website.
To book a ticket for an unaccompanied minor on Hawaiian Airlines, you must call 800-367-5320.
JetBlue allows for unaccompanied minors (UMNR) between the ages of 5 to 14 years old to travel on their own. Tickets can be booked online and carry a fee of $150 per person, each way.
There is a limit of 3 unaccompanied minors per flight and they are not allowed to occupy Mint or Even More Space seats. Seats A, B, and C are reserved in the last row of the plane so that crew can easily assist if needed.
Only nonstop flights are allowed to be booked for unaccompanied minors, with some international flights included. However, London is not available at the moment. Unaccompanied minors, even on Blue Basic Fares, are allowed to bring a carry-on at no extra charge.
At drop-off, a photo ID and 3 copies of a completed Unaccompanied Minor Form are required. Gate passes may be available at the discretion of TSA.
At pick-up, the guardian listed on the Unaccompanied Minor Form must be at least 18 years old and present an ID.
To book a ticket for an unaccompanied minor on JetBlue, you can use jetblue.com or call 800-538-2583.
Southwest allows for Unaccompanied Minors (UM) ages 5 to 11 to travel by themselves on domestic flights. There is a $50 fee each way.
Children 12 and over can use the Young Travelers service for no fee. However, parents cannot accompany their child all the way to the gate.
Unaccompanied minors can only fly on nonstop or direct flights in the U.S., and parents/guardians must provide proper identification during dropoff and pickup.
To book a ticket for an unaccompanied minor on Southwest you can use southwest.com, book at the ticket counter, or call 800-435-9792
Spirit Airlines allows unaccompanied minors ages 5 to 14 on select flights for a fee of $150 each way.
Flights must be domestic nonstop flights. Unaccompanied minors will receive a lanyard with their information on it, a snack, and drinks during their travels.
The drop-off parent or guardian should provide a valid ID and escort the child all the way to the gate (with a gate pass) and wait for 15 minutes after the flight takes off. The child will be preboarded and introduced to the flight crew.
The pick-up parent or guardian should request a gate pass at the ticket counter with a valid ID and be waiting at the arrival gate so that the flight attendant can release the child to the adult listed on their Unaccompanied Minor form.
To book a ticket for an unaccompanied minor on Spirit Airlines, you can use spirit.com or call 855-728-3555.
Sun Country does not have an unaccompanied minor service and therefore doesn’t allow children under the age of 14 to travel alone.
On domestic flights, kids ages 15 to 17 can accompany 1 child between the ages of 5 to 14. Children under the age of 5 must be accompanied by an adult ticketed on the same reservation.
United Airlines welcomes young flyers and has an unaccompanied minor service for children ages 5 to 14. There is a fee of $150 each way for every 2 children using the service.
Unaccompanied minors can travel on both domestic and international flights, as long as it is nonstop on United or United Express. Young adults ages 15 to 17 can travel alone on any United or United Express flight, or they can choose to opt into the unaccompanied minor service.
The young flyers will receive a wristband, special bag tags, and an envelope with their unaccompanied minor forms. They will also receive early boarding to get settled and a free snack after takeoff.
The drop-off parent or guardian can accompany the child to the gate if allowed by the airport.
The pick-up parent or guardian can wait by the arrival gate if gate passes are available. A United representative will meet the child at the plane and bring them to the designated pick-up person.
To book a ticket for an unaccompanied minor on United Airlines, you can use united.com or call 800-864-8331.
Tips for Unaccompanied Minor Flights
You’ve made the decision to send your little one on their first big adventure by themselves, and you’ve confirmed that the airline will assist them, but there are still some things you can do to help set them up for a successful journey.
Here are some tips from fellow parents, as well as directly from the airlines, for when your child is going to fly as an unaccompanied minor.
Explain the Process
You are likely nervous, your kid probably is, too. Making sure that they are emotionally and mentally prepared will be extremely important.
By going over exactly what the trip will entail, what is expected of them, who they can rely on, and what to do in an emergency can be calming and helpful.
Remind them that the flight crew is there to help them and that there will be someone waiting for them at the other end of the flight.
Charge the Gadgets
For kids, there is nothing worse than their favorite piece of technology running out of battery.
Let them indulge in screen time and make sure that their phones, tablets, and other devices are all charged up for the trip. But still, send the chargers!
This will also ensure they will be able to stay in touch with you, if needed.
Use an AirTag
Apple AirTags have exploded in popularity as a way to keep track of checked luggage.
Well, there is no more precious cargo than your child. Toss an AirTag in their backpack (Apple sells a single AirTag for $29, or a pack of 4 AirTags for $99), or better yet, use an AirTag bracelet.
With an AirTag, you can see exactly where they are, which can be handy during pick-up.
Write Down Emergency Contacts
Yes, there will be cell phones and proper documentation from the airline, but you never know.
It can’t hurt to have a list of emergency contacts and phone numbers on a piece of paper if needed.
We all function better when we aren’t hungry, right?
Even though some unaccompanied minor services offer snacks, it’s a good idea to make sure your kid is well fed before their flight and has a bag full of snacks to munch on during their journey.
You’ve packed snacks and the airline will likely provide some as well, but it’s a good idea to give your kid some spending money just in case of a long delay.
Whether waiting to board or on the plane for longer than planned, having a little cash or a credit card can come in handy if they need to buy something.
This goes for all travelers, but the less you board with, the less that is likely to get left behind.
A backpack is probably the easiest for smaller travelers, so they don’t have to deal with reaching into overhead bins.
Track the Flight
Being able to track the flight will help calm your nerves and keep the person picking up the unaccompanied minor informed if there are any delays.
Whether using the airline’s app or a third-party app such as FlightAware, a little bit of technology in your pocket is nice to have.
Sending your little one on a flight by themselves is a huge moment filled with a plethora of feelings with everything from excitement to fear.
But with the right preparation, your unaccompanied minor could make their first successful trip of many to come.
Many airlines will make sure that your child has a safe and enjoyable flight, and if they are flying Alaska Airlines and have elite status, they won’t even charge you!
There are many factors that go into whether or not you and your family are comfortable enough with this type of travel. Hopefully, the information you found here will help with your decision.