Sending your child on a flight by themselves can be quite a daunting experience. No one wants any problems to occur, so many airlines make sure that children who fly alone aren’t actually alone, they are escorted and monitored at all times.

Air hostess helping a kid

Most airlines require that an adult drops the child off at the designated check-in counter and waits in the airport until the flight has actually taken off before they leave. They also require children to travel as part of an unaccompanied minor travel service which must be booked in advance when the tickets are purchased.

The conditions under which different airlines accept children flying alone varies, and it’s always important to check directly with the airline before you assume anything as rules and regulations do change, and are different for certain routes. The following chart gives details for many of the airlines’ basic rules which will give you a guideline to work with.

Airline Unaccompanied Minor Travel Rules Specific to the Airline
Air France Children between the ages of 5 and 11 may travel unaccompanied and be given priority boarding.  On flights within French territories the ages are 4-11.
Air New Zealand Children between the ages of 5 and 12 can travel as unaccompanied minors.  There are restrictions for 5-7 year olds however.
American Airlines Under5s may only travel with someone aged 15 or older.  Children between 5 and 7 may travel as unaccompanied minors on most routes but not those requiring a change of aircraft.  8-14 year olds can travel alone as long as there is no onward connecting flight.  15-17 year olds are considered to be ‘Young Adults’ and do not need to make use of the unaccompanied minors service but can do so should they wish.
British Airways Children between 5 and 12 can travel alone but must register with the Skyflyer Solo service provided by British Airways.  Alternatively they must be accompanied by someone over 16. Certain restrictions do apply including to journeys which include a stop over of six hours or more.
Cathay Pacific Children between 6 and 12 must be registered as unaccompanied minors to travel alone.  12-18 year olds can also make use of the service by request, and those under 6 may not fly without an adult.
Continental Airlines Solo flyers aged 5-14 are designated as unaccompanied minors, with 5-7 year olds only allowed to travel on non-stop flights.  8-14 year olds can also fly routes which have connecting services as long as an overnight stop is not required.
Emirates Those aged 5-11 are classified as unaccompanied minors and cared for by dedicated ground staff.  12-15 year olds are classed as ‘young passengers’.
KLM Children between 5 and 11 are required to travel using the unaccompanied minors service while those aged 12-17 may do so but may alternatively travel independently. No child under 5 may travel unaccompanied.
Monarch No unaccompanied child may travel on a Monarch flight.
Qantas An unaccompanied minor form must be filled out for every child between 5 and 11 years old.  Children between 12 and 15 may also travel as unaccompanied minors should they or their parent/guardian so wish it.
Singapore Airlines Any child aged 5-17 travelling without an adult must be registered with Singapore Airline’s unaccompanied minor scheme.
Thomas Cook Airlines No child under 16 may travel alone but must be accompanied by a passenger who is 16 or over.
US Airways Children aged 5-14 may travel unaccompanied on direct flights with assistance from US Airways staff.  Those from 15-17 may travel unassisted.
Virgin Atlantic Children aged 5 to 15 may travel unaccompanied.