Every year, millions of parents put their trust in airlines to help their kids travel solo as an unaccompanied minor, always on the lookout for the best airlines for unaccompanied minors.. Whether it’s a visit to a family member or attending a camp, the unaccompanied minor policies by popular airlines are extremely useful for families who want to, or end up having to send their children off to explore the world of traveling on their own.
A minor child traveling alone on an airplane can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for any parent, and can be just as daunting for the child. Crowded airports, security checks, baggage claims, and getting to the boarding gate for a child who is alone can be extremely overwhelming. Some of the leading airlines today recognize this and have put in place dedicated policies and programs for unaccompanied minors traveling alone on their flights.
The comprehensive programs designed by the best airline for unaccompanied minors, combined with your impeccable arrangements can help your child have a smooth and stress-free travel experience; a travel experience that they can look forward to.
Let’s take a look at the list below and find the best airline for unaccompanied minors.
Don’t miss our specially curated quick & ultimate checklist every parent needs when their minor child is flying alone.
By definition, an unaccompanied minor is a child who is anywhere between 5-14 years of age, traveling on a flight without the supervision of a parent or designated guardian.
Most of the big airlines allow an unaccompanied minor to travel on their flight, subject to the regulations of their unaccompanied minor policy, and usually for a fee.
Airlines provide services in accordance with their Unaccompanied Minors Program for an additional fee to take care of all the needs of your minor when traveling alone. The typical age group for these programs is from the age of 5 to 15 years. However, this may vary slightly with each airline and their policies.
Majority airlines in the United States have a dedicated Unaccompanied Minor policy or UMNR policy. These policies typically entail an unaccompanied minor fee, staff supervision on board, assistance with flight connections whenever required.
According to these policies, a parent or guardian is supposed to take the minor to the first departure gate and a parent or designated guardian is supposed to receive the minor at the destination arrivals.
Choosing the right airline in the midst of tens and hundreds of airlines with similar services is a crucial task, especially because it’s about the safety and comfort of your child. In the age of TSA regulations and rising airfares, flying your minor child alone is not only expensive, but finding the right airline is also a major challenge.
Before we proceed, let’s take a quick look at all the questions that come together to make a reliable UMNR policy. These are the parameters you need to base your comparison and final decision on when choosing an airline for your minor.
We have compiled a list of 10 best airline for unaccompanied minors operating in the United States. These airlines have comprehensive dedicated policies for unaccompanied minors, with excellent services and for a fee that makes it all worth it.
Our recommendation - Pick any one of these airlines and you can have your child travel solo with zero stress.
The Delta Unaccompanied Minor policy is among the best programs for minors traveling alone. This program by Delta is applicable for kids between 5 to 14 years of age, and is optional for those between the ages of 15 to 17 years. Delta is always on the top to make it to the list of the best airline for unaccompanied minors.
Get all details and information on Delta Unaccompanied Minor Policy
Alaska Air’s unaccompanied minor policy and fee is a great deal in terms of money. This program is applicable for kids between 5 to 12 years of age. Children who are 13 years or older are allowed to travel as adults. With enough entertainment options during flight, Alaska Air is preferred by many parents as an airline for their child to travel alone.
The United Airlines Unaccompanied Minor policy is applicable for children between the ages 5 to 11 years of age. Children who are 12 years and older can travel as an adult on any United Airlines flight if they want. Flights with purchasable meal service include free meals for children under the United Airlines Unaccompanied Minor program.
The Southwest Unaccompanied Minor policy is applicable for kids between 5 to 11 years of age traveling alone on a Southwest flight, and is optional for kids who are 12 years and older. Also, a 12 years and older child can escort a child between 5-11 years of age on a Southwest flight, under the Southwest Unaccompanied Minor Program.
Get all details on the Southwest Unaccompanied Minor Policy
Hawaiian Airlines has one of the cheapest Unaccompanied Minor fees in the U.S. Also, they have the lowest age cut off where children can travel without having to pay a UMNR fee. This is definitely an airline you can explore, especially if you’re running on a tight budget.
American Airlines, one of the leading names in the airlines industry, has an Unaccompanied Minor policy that is designed to ensure a comfortable and secure traveling experience for solo minors. The American Airlines Unaccompanied Minor policy is applicable to children between 5-14 years of age, with a cap of maximum 4 minors traveling alone per flight.
Get all details on the American Airlines Unaccompanied Minor Policy.
Emirates Airlines is known to provide some of the top-notch services to its passengers. Their Unaccompanied Minor policy is no different, with an exceptional policy designed for children between the age 5-15 years. The personable and attentive staff at Emirates make sure that your child’s flight is luxurious, safe, and entertaining. These airlines do have certain restrictions on alone-child travel for some routes and flights. so make sure to check that before you make your final bookings.
The Lufthansa Unaccompanied Minor policy is applicable for kids between 5-11 years of age. Special check-in counter, boarding assistance, in-flight facilities, and secure transfer are all the benefits they seamlessly deliver. Lufthansa Airlines also has an additional service for providing extra support to your child at an additional unaccompanied minor fee.
Get all details on the Lufthansa Unaccompanied Minor policy.
British Airways, a legacy airline, have a dedicated Unaccompanied Minor policy in place for kids between the ages 5-17 years. Personal escort, attractive waiting area, and assistance with their baggage are only some of the many benefits they offer. Like every other airline, they do have some restrictions in terms of routes, flights, or number of unaccompanied minors allowed per flight.
The Air Canada Unaccompanied Minor policy is applicable for kids between 8-17 years of age, and includes all the special assistance and services to make the flight experience of your minor pleasant, comfortable, and safe.
|UMNR Policy||Age Cut-off [Non-Stop flight]||Age Cut-off [Connecting flight]||Airline Fee||Age of Accompanying Adult|
|American Airlines Unaccompanied Minor Policy||5 to 14 years||8 to 14 years(terms & conditions apply)||$150, each way||16|
|Delta Unaccompanied Minor Policy||5 to 14 years||8 to 14 years||$150, each way||18|
|Hawaiian Unaccompanied Minor Policy||5 to 11 years||5 to 11 years||$35, each segment within Hawaii$100, each segment between North America & Hawaii||15 (domestic flights)|
|Alaska Air Unaccompanied Minor Policy||5 to 12 years||8 to 12 years||$50, each way on non-stop$75, each way on connecting||18|
|Southwest Unaccompanied Minor Policy||5 to 11 years||Not allowed||$50, each way||12|
|United Airlines Unaccompanied Minor Policy||5 to 14 years||Not allowed||$150, each way||18|
|Emirates Unaccompanied Minor Policy||5 to 11 years||$50, each way for 12 to 15 years old minors||16|
|Lufthansa Airlines Unaccompanied Minor Policy||5 to 11 years||Refer to chart||18|
Once you have booked your child’s ticket with one of these airlines, the next step is to prepare for your child’s big day flying solo! Before anything, make sure you read your chosen airline’s unaccompanied minor policy carefully and thoroughly to help you prepare for everything.
Here’s a quick checklist of everything you need to know or do before you send off your child on their solo flight -
Communicate with your child and help them prepare for the entire flight process, who they can ask for help during the journey, and who will meet them at the destination airport. If you’re going to take a flight with your child before their solo flight, you can use that trip as an opportunity to prepare them to navigate their way around the airport and the flight.
Be mindful of the kind and the size of luggage you choose for your unaccompanied child on their trip. We recommend a comfortable and spacious backpack for a carry-on which can be carried out easily and hold everything they might need on during their journey. Other than that, make sure you check the luggage that can be managed by an airport staff or an adult who is going to pick them up at the destination airport.
Get all the airline mandated documents and paperwork ready and packed safely with your child, for both the origin airport and the destination airport. Go through the list of documents required by your airline and make sure you have everything ready and updated.
Although most leading airlines provide meals or snacks to unaccompanied minors, it's still recommended to pack some of your child’s favorite snacks in their carry-on, even if they’re not fussy eaters.
Make sure your unaccompanied child has enough cash on them for emergencies. If they’re old enough to take care of valuables, you can even consider giving them a credit card along with the cash.
Most airlines pre-board unaccompanied minors which is why getting them to the boarding gate early may be necessary. Make sure you reach the airport well in advance to go through the process of paperwork, luggage, and everything else smoothly and without overwhelming your child.
Give your child an active mobile phone that they know how to use to reach out to you in case of an emergency. Even though airport authorities can always reach out to the designated guardians or parents when required, a mobile phone to your child can keep some of their jitters away; not to mention keep them entertained. Make sure you pack the charger in their carry-on.
Make sure the adult picking up your child at the destination airport has everything they need and know exactly where they need to be when your child arrives. Have them keep enough buffer time to be able to go through the process smoothly.
For your own mental peace and the mental peace of your child, stay at the airport until take-off. Also, make sure to let your child know that you will stay until their flight takes off. Some airlines put this as a requirement for parents or guardians accompanying the child to the airport.
Letting your minor child travel solo is an excellent milestone for your child and for you as a parent. However, this step calls for a lot of meticulous planning and preparation, and a big part of that plan is to choose the airline that works the best for you.
You’ll see that there is no right or wrong choice if you stick to this list. All these airlines are perfectly equipped to deliver an exceptional and safe traveling experience to your child. The only thing left for you to do is see what works for you and what works best for your child.
Help your child create a wonderful experience for your child, something they will treasure for years to come.