Home Family Unaccompanied Minors Program for Children Flying Alone

Unaccompanied Minors Program for Children Flying Alone

by TerriAnn
Understanding and How to Use the Unaccompanied Minors Program for Children Flying Alone #travel #kids

This last summer, our family was not able to travel very much due to work and finances. However, my relative invited my daughter to visit them in Georgia. If you’ve ever wondered about children flying alone as unaccompanied minors, you’ll definitely want to bookmark this!

Understanding and How to Use the Unaccompanied Minors Program for Children Flying Alone #travel #kids

My baby flying clear across the country alone?! Sure I used to travel to L.A. every summer to stay with family when I was young, but that was only 45-60 minute flight and a trip I took many times before. We only traveled to Georgia once as a family and Munchkin was only five years old at the time. She had never traveled by herself and this flight would be over five hours! On top of that, the girl has no sense of direction. I was sure my 13-year-old wouldn’t even find her way to the gate, let alone settle herself on a plane and figure her way out through baggage.

Fortunately, Delta has an Unaccompanied Minors Program that requires an flight attendant accompany children ages 5 to 14 for the duration of the flight. There is an extra fee for this service but, in my opinion, it is completely worth it.

Understanding and How to Use the Unaccompanied Minors Program for Children Flying Alone #travel #kids

Unaccompanied Minors Program for Children Flying Alone

Here is a rundown of how the program works and our experience with it.

  • The parent or guardian is given a special pass to go through security with the child.
    The extra fee was already paid when the ticket was purchased. Frans and I just had to check in at the airline desk to finish the process. The woman helping us was very familiar with how the Unaccompanied Minors Program worked and arranged passes so both of us could see our daughter off at the gate.
  • An attendant will walk your child into the plane and seat them in the back, near the attendant area.
    We did a direct hand-off with the attendant and waved to our little girl as she disappeared down the walkway. The parent or guardian isn’t supposed to leave until the plane takes off so Frans and I just hung out for a while and took photos. I tried to call Munchkin while waiting but she didn’t have her phone on. Ugh, we should have known something like that would happen. Parents – don’t forget to make sure your child’s phone is on and charged! If you have T-Mobile, you can get free Wi-Fi calling and texting on flights with Gogo. That would have been so nice.
  • An attendant will walk your child out of the plane to the person pre-designated for pickup.
    Our relative was supposed to be at the gate an hour early. The airline already had her name so she only had to show her ID to pick up Munchkin. We forgot to tell our daughter to text us when she arrived so we were frantically calling when we saw online that the plane had landed. Ugh, sometimes teens can be so clueless…

All in all, everything went smoothly for us and Munchkin got to Georgia and came home without incident. She had a great time but ten days away from us was a bit too long for her. Plus, due to a hectic schedule and not enough sleep, she ended up getting a cold for the last few days. Poor thing! It will be a while before she travels by herself again but at least this was a good experience and we know what to expect for next time.

Understanding and How to Use the Unaccompanied Minors Program for Children Flying Alone #travel #kids

Unaccompanied Minors on Domestic and International Flights

An Unaccompanied Minors Program is available on most major airlines. Required ages and extra fees vary. I listed some a few of the common domestic airlines for easy reference but you will want to be sure to check the official web sites or call for the most current information.

  • Alaska (5-12 years, optional for ages 13-17, $25 or $50/pp each way depending on if it’s a connecting flight)
  • American (5-14 years, optional for ages 15-17, $150 each way but is per family and not per child)
  • Delta (5-14 years, optional for ages 15-17, $100 each way but is per family and not per child)
  • JetBlue (5-13 years, $100/pp each way)
  • Hawaiian (5-11 years, optional for ages 12-17, $35 or $100/pp each way depending on if it’s within Hawaii or between North America)
  • Southwest (5-11 years, $50/pp each way)
  • United (5-11 years, optional for ages 12-17, call for fee)
  • US Airways (5-14 years, $150/pp each way)
  • Virgin America (5-14 years, optional for ages 15-17, $75-125/pp each way depending on destination)

International airlines such as Lufthansa, Air FranceKLM, Emirates, AeroMexico, and Air China also have options for unaccompanied minors.

Have your kids flown alone before? If not, would you consider it?

Understanding and How to Use the Unaccompanied Minors Program for Children Flying Alone #travel #kids

You may also like


Robin (Masshole Mommy) September 18, 2014 - 2:58 am

My step-son has flown alone a few times, but not until he was 14 or 15. He is an experienced traveler, so we weren’t worried.

Emily @ Baby Dickey September 18, 2014 - 7:40 am

My kids have not flown alone, but they are only 4 and 2! They might some day and my nephew flies alone every summer to his mom’s – this is a GREAT program, totally worth the fees for peace of mind!

Pam September 18, 2014 - 2:23 pm

I definitely agree! It’s much better to be safe than sorry, especially where your kids are concerned.

Liz Mays September 18, 2014 - 7:50 am

Thanks for the great information. Children travelling alone is a scary thought, so I’m glad these programs offer escort for the kids.

Jennifer September 18, 2014 - 7:51 am

These are great tips! I don’t have kids, but it’s nice to know if my friends’ kids ever travel alone, they’ll be safe and sound.

Dawn September 18, 2014 - 7:52 am

My son has never flown alone before. It’s nice to have these tips in case he ever needs to. Thanks!

Myrah - Coupon Mamacita September 18, 2014 - 7:52 am

These is such great information. It’s nice to know that unaccompanied minors aren’t really unaccompanied!

Penelope Guzman (NY Blogger) September 18, 2014 - 9:30 am

Ok, this is awesome..I would be TERRIFIED to ever leave my child to travel alone, so that there is an attendant who is with them so much who sees them safely from parent to parent rocks!

Janel September 18, 2014 - 11:46 am

This is extremely helpful! I’d love to start flying my boys up to see grandma for a week or two in the summer.

Crystal Green September 18, 2014 - 12:45 pm

I can attest to the fact that this program is well worth the money for any parent that wants to send their kids on a plane by themselves. The first time I flew on a plane on the way home from Ohio back to SC, my ear drums REFUSED to pop. I was scared out of my mind, but the flight attendant that was with me from start to finish of my flight with them really helped calm me down and tried all the tricks to help me. If it wasn’t for the fact that I had her there from the beginning of my flight I don’t think I would have gotten through it as well.

I’m glad that you shared this very important program with all of us. It’s very important thing for parents to have.

TerriAnn van Gosliga September 18, 2014 - 1:13 pm

Wow, thank you for sharing your experience Crystal. If you didn’t have her there to help you, it may have caused you to fear flying all together later on. I never even thought about that!

Chrystal @ YUM eating September 18, 2014 - 1:33 pm

They need a flyer program for scared adults LOL . Kiddo hasn’t flown alone and not sure if there will ever be a need to. I am sure between all her parents and grandparents, someone will always want to tag along 😉

Victoria September 18, 2014 - 1:36 pm

Hi TerriAnn,

We have several friends who do switch-offs with their children by flying to the child, and flying back home with them. For those who cannot afford two round-trip flights just for the exchange I think the Unaccompanied Minors program is genius! There are some circumstances where I would be more comfortable with the flight attendant flying with my child than some of our family members (ha ha).

I’m happy to see your little girl arrived in and returned from Georgia safely. I cannot imagine ten whole days without one of my little ones – kudos to you for surviving it!


Mom Does Reviews

Paula September 18, 2014 - 1:45 pm

How stressful that could have been (well more stressful). I am so glad there is a program like this so parents can rest assured their children are okay.

Pam September 18, 2014 - 2:10 pm

My kids never flew alone, mostly because they had nowhere to be that it wasn’t easier to drive. I’m glad there’s a program like this for kids that need to travel!

Shell September 18, 2014 - 2:13 pm

My mom has asked about my 9y/o flying to visit her. It makes me nervous b/c there are no direct flights, so we’d have to worry about the connection. It seems like airlines would take care of it, but it still makes me nervous!

Meagan Paullin September 18, 2014 - 2:36 pm

ACK!!! My little girl is supposed to go to KINDERGARTEN next year. Outside of my house, lol. I’m scared to death. I can’t imagine how I would feel if she had to travel somewhere alone – even once she got older.

I’ve heard of this program, but never knew the details. SO glad something like this exists 🙂

Tammilee Tips September 18, 2014 - 2:39 pm

Glad she had a great trip! I remember flying alone as a teen it can be overwhelming! What a great program they have for the kids!

Meagan Ivie September 18, 2014 - 2:39 pm

Letting your kid travel alone could be a scary experience for any parent! Good to know there are such great programs out there for young fliers!

Aimee Smith September 18, 2014 - 3:13 pm

Totally worth it for peace of mind! I remember one family trip where we all flew on travel rewards for different airlines. On the way home from Chicago to Az all our flights got delayed except my 12 year old brothers! He was the only one who got home and our friends had to go get him!

Nolie September 18, 2014 - 4:47 pm

This is a great program. The train here has one as well and this winter that is how I plan to get my step son back and forth.

Amy D September 18, 2014 - 5:06 pm

My kids have never flown and I doubt I would partake in this. Reason being is that I am petrified of planes.

Kathy September 18, 2014 - 5:30 pm

I would be a nervous wreak sending my child without an adult. I am glad there are programs like this available. I wish they weren’t so expensive though.

Shauna September 18, 2014 - 5:45 pm

Hubby had to go through this a lot with his daughter as she lives in MD and we are in Texas… He was so relieved that he could walk her to the gate and pick her up at the gate and it was really helpful that they allowed her to board and get off the plane first

Tammi @ My Organized Chaos September 18, 2014 - 6:38 pm

Awesome info here, thanks! My kids haven’t flown alone but they might soon, bookmarking this post!

Marina September 18, 2014 - 7:02 pm

Oh gosh. It absolutely terrifies me to think of my kids travelling without me! But at least now I know that they’re accompanied every step of the way if I ever do have to send them somewhere alone. Thanks!

brett September 18, 2014 - 7:19 pm

if my kids flew alone, i would 100% take advantage of the program. the peace of mind is worth it!

deb September 18, 2014 - 7:22 pm

Thankfully my kids never flew without me. I would have been a nervous wreck, but its great to know that the airlines offer services like this. It has to provide parents with piece of mind.

Liz Mays September 18, 2014 - 7:48 pm

I would absolutely pay extra for that peace of mind. I noticed a hand-off the other day when I was flying and I wasn’t exactly sure what their situation was. Now I know what was going on.

Tammy September 18, 2014 - 8:01 pm

Our daughter never did, we always traveled as a family. When my brother and I were young, we took a train trip on our own halfway across Canada. I still think my parents were kind of nuts to let us do that!

Sarah Marturano September 18, 2014 - 8:09 pm

My kids have never flown alone before. I would definitely pay the extra for the unaccompanied minors program.

Ann Bacciaglia September 18, 2014 - 8:52 pm

My daughter flew to Florida alone last winter. She had a connecting flight in Toronto and it all worked out. I was worried but we had done the connecting thing the year before so she knew what to expect.

Greta September 18, 2014 - 9:42 pm

I started flying alone when I was 5 or so. My parents did the unaccompanied minor a couple times, but that was more hassle than it was worth! A flight attendant telling me where I could or could not go? NO THANK YOU!!

Kay Adeola September 19, 2014 - 12:34 am

This is a great service and really great if you want your kiddies to be able to go to another relative without you.Not sure when I would be happy for my kids to do this though.I am a over the top worrier.

Mama to 5 BLessings September 19, 2014 - 5:52 am

No my kids have not even flown yet. Sounds like a great program but I am the over protective mom and I probably would not allow them to fly alone.

Stacie September 19, 2014 - 6:20 am

Many moons ago, my kids would fly alone. They had the same type of unaccompanied minors programs, but it was free LOL… They had to be around 5ish I believe to fly alone, but you didn’t have to pay extra for them to be cared for.

Jessica (Savory Experiments) September 19, 2014 - 6:40 am

I’m sending this to my sister-in-law, I think it is a great idea for her to ship our niece (7) and nephew (9) on a plane down to see us. It is only an hour flight and it builds independence and competence, but she doesn’t see it that way. Thanks!

LyndaS September 19, 2014 - 6:58 am

No, my kids haven’t flown alone. I don’t think that I would let them – I like to fly myself so that would be a reason to go with him/her.

Anne-Marie @ This Mama Cooks! On a Diet September 19, 2014 - 7:57 am

When you hear in the news about kids getting lost on flights is usually because they don’t have a cellphone and because there was a disruption in service like a delayed flight. The best thing is to go over worse case scenarios like “what if Uncle Harry wasn’t there to meet you” or “what if your flight was delayed” and to make sure their phone was on (ha) so that you could reach them while they’re in the terminal.

Beth@FrugalFroggie September 19, 2014 - 8:19 am

I have not had my kids fly alone. I am glad that airlines are so helpful with allowing minors to fly alone.

Donna September 19, 2014 - 9:26 am

I am scared of flying and have only flown once, but if my son did have to fly by himself, I would absolutely pay extra for the peace of mind.

krystalskitsch September 19, 2014 - 10:45 am

I’ve only flown a handful of times so I know I would be nervous to send my son on a plane! I like that it is safe.

Marybeth Hamilton September 19, 2014 - 10:46 am

It’s funny that I’m on an airplane right now while I’m leaving this comment 🙂 The thought of putting my kids on a plane by themselves is enough to give me heart palpitations. I’m so glad there’s an unaccompanied minors program to assist parents when the need arises.

vanessa: thequeenofswag September 19, 2014 - 11:30 am

It’s always so scary to let the kids fly on their own. I’ve done it once and it was so nerve wracking.

Nicole Brady September 19, 2014 - 11:50 am

I flew once by myself when I was a kid… visiting family in Denver. It was a little scary but I was with an attendant. I thought that was just how they did it back then. I didn’t realize it was an official program. Glad to know something is available in case my girls want to fly to see family!

Christie September 19, 2014 - 12:08 pm

Thank you for writing out the age limits and directions here. I had the unfortunate experience where the adult didn’t accompany me for a minor flight

Tess September 19, 2014 - 1:17 pm

I flew as an unaccompanied minor when I was younger and remember it well. I remember getting the little wings and special treatment it was fun!

April @ Everyday Fitness and Nutrition September 19, 2014 - 3:35 pm

My daughter flew with a friend when she was 15 from Dallas to Houston so she was too old for the unaccompanied minor program. We worried about her since she’s directionally challenged and doesn’t always pay attention to detail but it worked out fine.

Colleen September 19, 2014 - 7:20 pm

I use to fly from FL to Michigan every summer with my sister to visit my dad and don’t know if it was even as good as it is now but we did get safely from one place to the next.

Theresa Gould @ Faith and Family Reviews September 19, 2014 - 8:57 pm

I’d be terrified! I’m glad it went well. I feel bad that she got a cold though:(

Janel (A Mom's Take) September 20, 2014 - 5:42 am

I remember flying with my brother this way when we were young. The flight attendant was so nice and took good care of us. My littlest brother has also flown this way by himself before. It definitely gives the parent piece of mind.

Tracey September 20, 2014 - 12:21 pm

This is a really great program. I am going to pass this along to a few friends that would find this post useful.

Danielle @ We Have It All September 20, 2014 - 12:46 pm

Gosh just the thought of this makes me nervous. I’ve never flown – until this year. I’m 39 and took my first trip on a plane and I was completely lost. My 3 older kids have flown with family so they’re a little better at it than I was. So… 2 of them have flown alone and I was so nervous. I was on edge until they were landed and with an adult again. I wish I would have known about this service, I would have used it.

Kristin Wheeler (@MamaLuvsBooks) September 20, 2014 - 1:28 pm

Thanks for this great information. Good to know they are looked after so carefully!

Crystal September 21, 2014 - 10:34 am

My niece did the same thing when she came to stay with us. On the receiving end, not much was different from an adult disembarking. I was grateful that the attendant verified my identity before releasing her to me. My niece felt very comfortable during the flight out and back. My own kids are still a little too young to fly alone, but not for much longer.

Jenn September 21, 2014 - 4:52 pm

I’m so glad there are programs like this, flying alone can be hectic even when you aren’t a child.

Raijean September 21, 2014 - 7:36 pm

I always wondered how that work, great post.

HilLesha September 21, 2014 - 8:20 pm

Honestly, I’d be so terrified of letting my children fly alone. I’m such a worrywart! However, that’s wonderful that they offer this program.

Racquel Bregg September 22, 2014 - 11:44 am

My kids have never flown at all! If they were to fly alone, I’d definitely want the piece of mind of this program.

Shannon Gosney September 22, 2014 - 2:49 pm

This sounds like a great program. I remember the first time I flew alone. I wish there would have been a program like this!

Liz @ Yes/No Films September 23, 2014 - 12:06 pm

Interesting post. The first time I flew alone, I was 19 – however, when we moved to Michigan, one of my Illinois friends came to visit me, and she was about 10 or 11. I bet her parents would have liked to use a program like this!

Camesha September 23, 2014 - 1:05 pm

You can fly by yourself as young as 5! Wow. I couldn’t imagine my son on a plan by himself. I don’t know at what age I’d be OK with my kids flying alone. There are so many crazy people in the world, I’d be seriously worried.

Angela September 23, 2014 - 3:38 pm

It’s good there is a special program for children flying alone. It would sure give me peace of mind.

Marcie W. October 14, 2014 - 6:16 am

My children have never flown alone, and with most of our family so close by, probably never will, but I think it is wonderful that these type of programs are in place for concerned parents and/or nervous kids.

Comments are closed.