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How Old Do You Have To Be To Fly On An Airplane By Yourself


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Joletta Farrington




Travelling alone can be an exciting and empowering experience, and for younger individuals eager to spread their wings, flying on an airplane by themselves is often a significant milestone. However, for safety reasons, airlines have specific guidelines regarding the age at which a child can fly unaccompanied. These guidelines are in place to ensure the well-being and security of young travelers.


In this article, we will explore the age requirements for flying on an airplane without a guardian or parent. We will also delve into the policies and procedures that airlines have implemented to take care of unaccompanied minors during their journey. From documentation and consent requirements to additional services offered, we will cover all the essential information you need to know if you are considering allowing your child to fly alone.


Embarking on an adventure alone comes with responsibilities and considerations, and understanding the age restrictions and protocols will ensure a smooth and worry-free experience for both the young flyer and their parents or guardians.


So, if you are wondering how old your child has to be to fly on an airplane by themselves, read on to discover all the important details and guidelines that will help you make an informed decision.


Age Requirement for Unaccompanied Minors


Every airline has its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to allowing children to fly unaccompanied. The age requirement varies from airline to airline, but generally, children must be at least 5 to 7 years old to travel alone. However, some airlines may have a higher minimum age requirement, typically around 12 years old.


It’s important to note that the age requirement for unaccompanied minors can also vary depending on the specific flight. For example, international flights may have different age restrictions compared to domestic flights. Additionally, certain routes or destinations may have their own age regulations due to local laws or safety considerations.


Furthermore, most airlines classify unaccompanied minors into different age groups to ensure their safety and provide appropriate assistance during the flight. Typically, these age groups are categorized as follows:

  • 5 to 7 years old: Most airlines require children in this age range to travel with an adult or guardian.
  • 8 to 11 years old: Many airlines allow children in this age group to travel alone, but they may have additional requirements, such as using the airline’s unaccompanied minor service.
  • 12 to 17 years old: Children in this age range are generally considered old enough to travel alone without any special assistance. However, parents can still choose to purchase the unaccompanied minor service for added peace of mind.

Keep in mind that these age ranges are not set in stone and may vary between airlines. It’s crucial to check with the specific airline you plan to book with to understand their age requirements and guidelines for unaccompanied minors.


Airlines’ Policies on Unaccompanied Minors


As mentioned earlier, airlines have specific policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety and well-being of unaccompanied minors. These policies may include mandatory use of the airline’s unaccompanied minor service, additional fees, and specific guidelines for check-in, boarding, and arrival procedures.


One common aspect of airlines’ policies is the requirement for parents or guardians to complete certain forms and provide consent for their child to travel alone. These forms typically include contact information, emergency contacts, and details about the person who will be picking up the child at the destination.


Most airlines also offer an optional service known as the unaccompanied minor service. This service ensures that designated airline staff members are responsible for the child’s well-being throughout the journey. These staff members will assist the child during check-in, accompany them during boarding, and ensure that they are safely handed off to the designated person at the destination. It’s important to note that this service often incurs an additional fee, which varies between airlines.


Furthermore, many airlines have specific guidelines regarding the flights that unaccompanied minors can be booked on. Some airlines may restrict unaccompanied minors from traveling on overnight flights or flights with layovers. These restrictions are in place to minimize potential risks and provide a smoother travel experience for young flyers.


It’s worth mentioning that airlines may also have different policies for siblings travelling together as unaccompanied minors. Some airlines may require that siblings be within a certain age range to travel together without adult supervision, while others may have additional requirements or restrictions.


Overall, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the policies of the specific airline you plan to book with. By doing so, you can ensure that you have a clear understanding of their procedures, requirements, and any additional services available for unaccompanied minors.


Additional Services for Unaccompanied Minors


When it comes to ensuring the comfort and safety of unaccompanied minors, many airlines offer additional services to ease their journey and provide peace of mind for both the child and their parents or guardians.


One common service provided for unaccompanied minors is dedicated assistance from airline staff. These staff members are specially trained to take care of young travelers and ensure that they have a smooth and enjoyable experience. They will guide the child through the check-in process, help them with their luggage, and ensure they are safely escorted to the boarding gate.


During the flight, unaccompanied minors are typically seated in a designated area. Some airlines may place them close to the flight attendant’s station, allowing for easy access and additional supervision. This ensures that the child can seek assistance if needed during the flight.


In-flight entertainment is another aspect that airlines consider for unaccompanied minors. Many airlines offer a wide range of movies, TV shows, games, and activities to keep younger passengers entertained throughout the flight. Some airlines even provide kid-friendly meal options to cater to their preferences.


In the case of long-haul or international flights, airlines may arrange for special services such as escorted transfers during layovers. This ensures that the child is accompanied and supervised during any stopovers or connecting flights, minimizing the chance of any mishaps.


It’s important to note that while these additional services aim to provide a positive travel experience for unaccompanied minors, they may vary depending on the airline and the specific flight. It is advisable to check with the airline beforehand to understand the extent of the services available for your child.


Remember, these services often come at an additional cost, so it’s essential to factor this into your travel budget. The fees associated with unaccompanied minor services vary between airlines and can depend on factors such as the length of the flight and the level of assistance required.


By taking advantage of these additional services, parents and guardians can have peace of mind knowing that their child is well taken care of throughout their journey.


Documentation and Consent Requirements


When allowing your child to fly alone as an unaccompanied minor, specific documentation and consent requirements must be met to ensure a smooth travel experience. These requirements vary between airlines and may include:


Identification: Most airlines require unaccompanied minors to present a valid form of identification. This typically includes a passport for international flights or a government-issued ID for domestic flights. It’s essential to check with the airline regarding their specific ID requirements for unaccompanied minors.


Consent Forms: Parents or guardians are usually required to complete and sign consent forms provided by the airline. These forms contain essential information about the child, including contact details, emergency contacts, and any specific instructions or requests. The consent forms also specify the person who will be responsible for picking up the child at the destination.


Supervision Requirements: Some airlines may have additional requirements when it comes to the level of supervision for unaccompanied minors. For example, they may require an adult or guardian to accompany the child to the gate and remain there until the flight has departed. This ensures that the child is properly handed over to the airline staff responsible for their care.


Travel Authorization Letters: In certain situations, such as when a child is traveling internationally without one or both parents, airlines may require a travel authorization letter. This letter grants permission for the child to travel alone and includes specific details about the trip, the child’s travel companions, and the consent of the absent parent(s).


It’s crucial to thoroughly review the documentation and consent requirements provided by the airline. Ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork completed accurately and bring extra copies for your records. Failure to meet these requirements may result in delays or even refusal of travel for the unaccompanied minor.


Additionally, it’s prudent to keep a copy of all relevant documents with the child during their travel as a precautionary measure. This includes a copy of their identification, consent forms, and any necessary travel authorization letters.


By following these documentation and consent requirements, you can ensure a hassle-free experience for your child as they embark on their solo flying adventure.


Tips for Unaccompanied Minors Flying Alone


As a parent or guardian, it’s natural to feel a mix of excitement and apprehension when allowing your child to fly alone as an unaccompanied minor. To help ease any worries and ensure a positive experience, here are some helpful tips to consider:


1. Familiarize Yourself with the Airline’s Policies: Take the time to thoroughly understand the airline’s policies regarding unaccompanied minors. This includes age requirements, fees, additional services, and any necessary documentation. Knowing the rules and procedures will help you prepare your child and set appropriate expectations.


2. Communicate and Rehearse: Have an open and honest conversation with your child about what to expect during their journey. Walk them through the entire process, from check-in to arrival, and answer any questions they may have. Role-play different scenarios to help them feel more confident and prepared.


3. Pack Essential Items: Ensure your child has a carry-on bag with all the necessary items they may need during the flight. This can include snacks, a water bottle, entertainment such as books or games, a fully charged electronic device, and any comfort items that bring them reassurance.


4. Dress Comfortably: Encourage your child to wear comfortable clothing and choose layers to adjust to the temperature on the plane. Comfortable shoes are also a must, as they may need to walk longer distances during the journey.


5. Provide Contact Information: Make sure your child has a laminated card or a wristband with their name, your contact information, and the designated person who will be picking them up at the destination. This will make it easier for airport staff to assist them if needed.


6. Arrive Early: Arrive at the airport well in advance to allow ample time for check-in and any necessary procedures. This will also give your child a chance to familiarize themselves with the airport layout and alleviate any last-minute stress.


7. Stay in Touch: Encourage your child to stay connected with you throughout the journey. Provide them with a fully charged cell phone or a calling card to reach out to you or the designated pickup person. Agree on specific times to check in to ensure peace of mind for both parties.


8. Remain Calm and Positive: It’s normal for both you and your child to feel some nervousness. However, it’s essential to remain calm and positive to keep their spirits high. Reassure them of the exciting adventure they are about to embark on, and let them know you are just a phone call away.


9. Follow Airport Security Procedures: Emphasize the importance of following all airport security procedures to your child. This includes going through security screenings and showing proper identification when required. Remind them to stay with an airline staff member at all times if they need assistance.


10. Pick-up Procedure: Inform the designated person who will be picking up your child about the airport’s arrival procedures. Provide them with all the necessary information and ensure they have proper identification to present when collecting the child.


By following these tips and offering your guidance and support, you can help your child feel confident and prepared for their journey as an unaccompanied minor. Remember, their first solo flight is a significant milestone, and it will pave the way for future adventures and independence.




Allowing your child to fly alone as an unaccompanied minor can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. However, with proper understanding of the age requirements, airline policies, and additional services available, you can ensure a smooth and secure experience for your young traveler.


Make sure to familiarize yourself with the specific age requirements set by the airline you plan to book with. Additionally, be aware of the different policies and guidelines they have in place for unaccompanied minors. This includes completing the necessary documentation and consent forms, as well as considering any additional services that can enhance your child’s journey.


By providing open communication, rehearsing the travel process, and packing essential items, you can prepare your child for their solo adventure in the skies. Encourage them to dress comfortably, provide them with contact information, and ensure they have a clear understanding of airport security procedures.


Finally, as a parent or guardian, it is important to remain calm and positive. Stay in touch with your child throughout their journey and reassure them of your presence and support. By following these tips and guidelines, you can help your child navigate their first solo flight with confidence and independence.


Remember, every airline may have its own specific requirements and procedures, so it is vital to gather all the necessary information from your chosen airline. By being well-informed and well-prepared, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for your child as they embark on their solo flying adventure.