Provisions for Minors Travelling Alone on International Flights
Issues Related to Children Flying Alone
Contemplating whether you should send your child alone on an international flight? Wondering whether it is a wise option? Then, you will be relieved to know that thousands of children safely fly unaccompanied on international routes every year. However, before you rush to make a flight booking for your child, there are certain things that you should know. Airlines around the world have specific rules and restrictions when it comes to allowing children to travel on their own on a flight, be it international or domestic. Each carrier has its own set of policies, but more or less they all consider the same things. Listed below are some of these general rules, restrictions, tips and check list that you need to keep in mind before you send your child on an international flight, alone.
Minor Age Limit in International Air Travel
The Rule for Age Limit
Most carriers offer the unaccompanied minor service for children aged between 5 and 12 years. In case, the child is less than the minimum age limit, he or she is required to travel with an adult, known to him or her. However, if the child has crossed the maximum age limit and still wishes to opt for the service, then airlines ask for proper documents as a proof of age. Though older children are allowed to travel under the rules of the unaccompanied children programme, they might not necessarily be able to use all the special services of it. One such service is getting an escort at the airport.
This unaccompanied minor service by airlines is offered at an additional cost above the actual ticket price, and the same cost increases in case of connecting flights.
Children Identification Documents
Identity Documents Verification
Most airlines like Jet Airways might not ask for any identification documents for children below the set maximum age limit for issuing a ticket or boarding pass for a domestic journey. However, in the case of international travel, airlines do ask for certain documents to allow a child to fly with them. It is advised that these children should carry a recent photo identity card, which could be the identity card issued to them at school or college. In addition, adults responsible for the child are required to provide valid identification documents at departure and arrival airports. Documents such as driving licence, voter ID card or passport, among others can be asked for verification.
All airlines also have another set of restrictions when it comes to unaccompanied children programme on their international air ticket. Typically, this includes not allowing children on the last flight of the day for the chosen destination. It also does not allow children to travel on flights where there is involvement of a second or partner carrier. The restriction can also be allowing these children only on non-stop flights that do not require changing the plane.
Some parents might not like these restrictions in case they feel their child is mature enough to travel without any assistance on international flights. In such a scenario, there is no need to opt for the airline’s unaccompanied children facility. However, it is important to keep in mind that this can only be done if the child is older than the maximum age limit set by the concerned airline.
Airline Service for Children
Issues with Travelling without Unaccompanied Children Service
Not opting for the unaccompanied children service for older children has its downside. In case, there are flight cancellations or delays; lost or damaged baggage; airline security issues or personal safety, each aspect will have to be handled by the child on its own. Therefore, it is quite important for parents to prepare their children for all the common problems that may arise during an international flight.
Minors on International Flights
Tips for Parents
There are certain things that parents need to do to ensure that their child travels safely on the flight and reaches the destination without any issues, whether they have opted for the unaccompanied children service or not. In this regard, first they need to make their child understand and prepare for various situations that might occur during their journey like delays or unscheduled landings or diversions. They need to tell their child to contact the flight staff in case of any problem. On the other hand, parents also need to make sure that the chief flight attendant is aware of their child travelling unaccompanied. If there is a case where a connecting flight has to be taken, then the child must be made aware that he or she needs to stay with the airline representative to be escorted safely to the next flight.
Another important thing that parents need to do is to escort their child not only through the check-in process, but as well as security and may be even to their seat. For this purpose, they need to get an escort pass or designated document from the carrier. Some airlines might only allow parents to escort their child to the terminal gate. In such a scenario, parents need to ensure that only an airline representative escorts their child to the aircraft. They also need to ensure that the person supposed to pick their child from the arrival gate reaches the airport on time.
Important Points for Parents and Children
Parents need to:
- Understand all the policies of the airline regarding unaccompanied minor service before making the ticket booking for their child.
- Take permission from the airline to escort the child to the allotted seat on the aircraft, if allowed.
- Carry along valid photo identity card to the airport and ask the person picking up the child from the arrival airport to do the same.
- Get contact information of the airline for both the departure and arrival airports.
- Provide their contact numbers and that of the person supposed to receive the child at the arrival point to the airline.
- Give the same copy of contact numbers to the child.
- Provide the child with a telephone, in case he or she knows how to use it.
Children need to:
- Find the airline representative responsible for their escort to the aircraft, in case their parents are not allowed to escort them to the aircraft.
- Need to stay in sight of the representative responsible for escorting them till they are seated in the aircraft.
- Must contact the flight attendant on board in case any problem arises.
- Contact their parents and the person (if they have a telephone) responsible for picking them from the arrival gate as soon as reaching the destination airport.