Unaccompanied Minors: 5 Best International Airlines
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Unaccompanied Minors: 5 Best International Airlines

 

If your child is traveling alone as an unaccompanied minor, or even if s/he is on the same flight but in a different cabin or class of service, you may need to use the airline's unaccompanied minor service. Fortunately, this needn't be too difficult to arrange, and the service often is reasonably priced or in some cases, such as Singapore Airlines, even complimentary.

You can typically use frequent flyer miles for your child's ticket. In fact, this is what prompted me to ask Cathay Pacific about its unaccompanied minor policy, since I've booked my son in a higher class of service for one of our flights next year, using frequent flyer miles, and was wondering if I'd need to book him as an unaccompanied minor given that we're in different cabins.

Here are some of my favorite international airlines' unaccompanied minor policies:

1. Air New Zealand

Children's Ages: 

  • Under 5: May not fly unaccompanied
  • 5-11: Must use Air New Zealand's Unaccompanied Minor service if not traveling with an adult age 15 or older; unaccompanied minor service available on select flights
  • 12-16: May use Air New Zealand's Unaccompanied Minor service if available and requested by parents/guardians
  • See Air New Zealand Unaccompanied Minor chart for which flights an unaccompanied minor may travel on, by age.

Cost: USD $30 per child one way for an international flight, when booked in advance; USD $60 one way for an international flight if booked at the airport. For children who frequently travel alone and are booked with their Airpoints frequent flyer number, every 10 one-way journeys will receive Airpoints Dollars in the value of 10% of the total service fees paid.

How to Book: Call Air New Zealand when booking the child's ticket.

What to Do at the Airport: Check-in is available at Special Assistance counters. Bring your child's valid passport and visa if needed, and your own photo ID. Your child will be issued an Airband, which is scanned by staff and sends text notifications to up to 5 specified contacts, such as parents/guardians and those picking up the child:

  • At check-in
  • Upon boarding the plane
  • When the flight has landed and they meet ground staff
  • At pick-up to the designated pick-up person

 

2. Singapore Airlines

Children's Ages: 

Cost: Complimentary

How to Book: Complete the Singapore Airlines Unaccompanied Minor Form and return to your local Singapore Airlines office. Note the special requirements for unaccompanied minors from France and French Territories, Russia and South Africa on Singapore Airline's Unaccompanied Minors page.

 

3. Cathay Pacific

Children's Ages: 

  • Under 6: May not fly unaccompanied
  • 6-11: Must use Cathay Pacific's Unaccompanied Minor service
  • 12-17: May use Cathay Pacific's Unaccompanied Minor service

Cost:

  • Between Hong Kong and all destinations in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America, South Asia subcontinent, Southwest Pacific: HKD 500 / USD 64
  • Between Bangkok and Dubai: HKD 500 / USD 64
  • Other routes: HKD 200 / USD 26

How to Book: Call Cathay Pacific to make arrangements at least 24 hours before the flight. Note that the service is not available if the itinerary includes a transfer >5 hours.

May Not Be Needed if Flying in Different Cabins on the Same Flight: When I called in to check about booking my son as an unaccompanied minor, on a flight where I'm in a different cabin, I was told it wasn't needed. I still recommend calling in to double check, especially if you're on different reservations, as we are, so that Reservations knows that you're on the same flight as your child, just not in the same class of service. 

 

4. ANA Junior Pilot

Children's Ages: 

  • Under 5: May not fly unaccompanied
  • 5-11: Must use ANA's Junior Pilot Unaccompanied Minor Service if not accompanied by an adult over 12 years old
  • 12-16 (or 14-17 for flights to/from Mexico City): Airport Support available, to escort youngsters from check-in to the ANA Lounge, if eligible, or to the gate; similarly at the arrival airport passengers are escorted from the arriving gate to the arrival lobby

Cost: xxx

How to Book: Call ANA and specify that you would like to use the ANA Junior Pilot Unaccompanied Minor service.

What to Bring with You

At the Airport

When checking in, your child will be given an ANA Junior Pilot holder, with the points from boarding to arrival, to wear until your child is picked up at the destination.

 

5. Lufthansa

Children's Ages: 

  • Under 5: May not fly unaccompanied
  • 5-11: Must use Lufthansa's Unaccompanied Minor service OR fly with a companion at least 12 years old or older
  • 12-17: May use Lufthansa's Unaccompanied Minor service if parents request and pay for it.

Cost: Per segment pricing: EUR 60 / USD 90 per flight segment within Germany or within Europe. EUR 100 / USD 150 per intercontinental flight segment. Example: Vienna - Munich - New York = EUR 60 + EUR 100 = EUR 160 per unaccompanied minor.

How to Book: Call Lufthansa as soon as you book the flight

What to Bring With You

  • Completed Lufthansa Special Service Form
  • Child's valid passport
  • Visa if needed for the destination country
  • Copy of travel insurance policy
  • Details of child's allergies
  • Payment receipt for the Unaccompanied Minor service
  • Declaration of consent from both parents/legal guardians that child may travel unaccompanied
 
Have you ever used an international airline's Unaccompanied Minor Service, and if so, what was your experience?
 
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