It’s hard to imagine when your children are small, but eventually the day will come when they begin to take on more responsibility. One milestone: the first time your child flies alone. It can be intimidating — for both of you — but this advice can help ensure you and your young traveler have the best experience possible.
Get the Answers to Common Questions
How Old Does a Child Have to Be to Fly Alone?
If your child is between the ages of 5 and 14 and is flying alone, they are technically considered “unaccompanied minors” by most airlines. However, different rules apply depending on their age.
- Ages 1-4: Your child may fly only when accompanied by an adult.
- Ages 5-7: Your child can take a direct flight to a single destination, but cannot take a connecting flight.
- Ages 8-11: Your child may take connecting flights on some airlines, and will be escorted by airline personnel to their connecting flight. If your child is 12 or older, you may need to request an escort for an additional fee.
All airlines are different. Before booking a flight, read up on their rules and regulations regarding children traveling alone. There may be additional restrictions for minors flying alone — for example, some airlines forbid unaccompanied minors on overnight flights.
Do Airlines Charge a Fee for Unaccompanied Minors?
Though it varies by airline and your child’s age, fees typically range from $50 to $150 each way, per child.
What Information Does an Airline Need for Minors Flying Alone?
Call the airline to make sure it has all the information it needs to ensure your child has a comfortable, stress-free flight. Specify that your child will be traveling alone. You will also need to provide the airline with the full names, phone numbers and addresses of the person dropping your child off and picking them up.
Prepare Your Child to Fly Alone
Do a Walk-Through
Once you’ve booked your flight, it’s time to prepare your child for their trip. Go over their itinerary and secure their travel documents in one safe place. If they’ve never flown before, take them to the airport a day or two in advance and point out things like the service desk and how to recognize uniformed personnel.
For younger children especially, it’s helpful to go over what they can expect as they go through security. They can practice removing their shoes, placing their items in a bin, and walking through metal detectors. Most airlines will allow you to accompany your child through the security checkpoint and wait with them at the gate until their plane takes off, which can help alleviate your anxiety — and theirs!
You don’t want your child to have to wrestle with luggage. Make sure they pack light; a single carry-on that can be stowed underneath the seat in front of them and a personal item is ideal. Include some TSA-approved snacks and an empty water bottle — remember, you can’t bring liquid through the security checkpoint.
Help your child stay entertained on the flight by packing books and a tablet with their favorite movies. If it’s the latter, make sure they understand the importance of turning electronic devices off during takeoff and landing. Give your child some cash or a pre-paid gift card for emergencies or extra snacks.
Prepare Your Traveler for the Unexpected
Delays and cancelations are common, so tell your child what to do and whom to contact if an issue occurs. Make sure they also have a picture of the adult picking them up at their destination with their address and phone number printed on the back. The person picking up your child should also have a photo I.D. to confirm their identity with airline personnel.
Successful Solo Travel
While the idea of your child traveling alone can be stressful, it’s also an opportunity to teach them skills that will serve them well in the future. Your Farm Bureau agent can help make their first solo flight a smooth one, too. Talk to your agent today about whether your upcoming trip warrants travel insurance.