Can children fly alone?

Rules and regulations on children flying alone

When you are planning on sending your child on a flight unaccompanied you should always check to see what the rules on unaccompanied children are as it varies from airline to airline.

Child on a plane

I have listed the guidelines of a few of the major airlines:

Thomas Cook
Children can travel alone from the age of 14 or over. Anyone under the age of 14 is not allowed to travel alone. They must also be able to be able to travel unaccompanied. Thomas Cook also require a Young Persons Declaration to be completed before booking (More information can be attained from the Thomas Cook website). Young Persons are only permitted on direct routes and the Young Person will usually be pre-seated near the front to allow the crew to observe the young person during the flight.

British Airways
British airways allows for any child from 12 and above to travel alone on their flights. However, they stress that the child will be booked as an adult and will have to make their way through departures and arrivals by themselves as BA take no responsibility for them.

Ryanair will not allow minors under the age of 16 to travel unaccompanied. Any minor under 16 must be accompanied by someone who is over the age of 16.

EasyJet does not allow children under the age of 14 to board a plane unaccompanied and must be accompanied by someone who is over the age of 18. Any child aged 14-15 is allowed to travel unaccompanied by an adult but EasyJet does not offer an escort service. Children under 14 are allowed to travel in a ratio of 10 to 1 so 10 under 14’s to 1 adult and in these conditions anyone aged 16 or above is considered an adult.

Flybe will allow any child aged 5-11 to travel unaccompanied as long as there is a named custodian of the child present at each end of the flight. However, this is for point to point flights only and Flybe apply a charge of £39 per child per flight for the service provided. Any child between the ages of 12-16 can travel unaccompanied either as an adult or as an unaccompanied minor.

Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic allow children between the ages of 5-11 to travel unaccompanied and children aged 12-18 can be considered as an unaccompanied child but unless stated will be treated as an adult. If a child is going to be taking a Virgin Flight the parent must stay at the departing airport until the flight has departed. If you child is travelling in upper class then they are not permitted to use shared lounges, clubhouses or the limo service. They will also be charged an adult fare.

Any Person aged 14 or over is allowed to travel unaccompanied on a Jet2 flight however if your child is under 14 they must be accompanied by someone aged 16 or over and this person will be responsible for the child at all times. Special conditions apply to some countries of origin and destination.

Qatar Airways
Qatar airways offers an escort service for your child which accompanies them from the departing airport to the handing over to parent/guardian at receiving airport. To be eligible the child must be between the ages of 5-15 and the cost of this is covered by purchasing an adult fare for the child. Also, Qatar will charge for the return flight of the representative looking after the child.

Emirates offer a service for unaccompanied minors and it is for children aged 5-15 who are flying alone. This service includes Help through the airport, Priority boarding, dedicated lounges for children, on board care and support when the child lands. The fare for this is covered by paying an adult fare for your child. This service is mandatory for children under 12.

A general rule for children travelling to and from France, Spain or Portugal is to get a signed, written letter of consent from the parent along with the Passport of the child. If your child has an Italian passport and is travelling to or from Italy they cannot be under the age of 14. Also, if the child is travelling to Romania then they will need to be accompanied by an adult as it is Romanian state law.

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