Are you trying to figure out exactly what the rules are for Air Canada’s unaccompanied minor policy?
Don’t want to find yourself in a kerfuffle?
Below, we’ll break down the policy in very simple terms and tell you everything you need to know so that you’ll be prepared to drop off your unaccompanied minor with confidence.
Table of Contents
Air Canada unaccompanied minor policy summary
Air Canada requires children aged 8 to 11 who are traveling alone to use Air Canada’s unaccompanied minor service. The unaccompanied minors can only fly on nonstop flights and each segment requires a fee of $100 CAD.
- Any child under 12 must be accompanied by someone 16 years of age or older, unless they qualify as an unaccompanied minor.
- Children under the age of 8 cannot use the unaccompanied minor service and must be accompanied by a passenger age 16 or older.
- Children aged 12 through 17 can utilize the unaccompanied minor service but are not required to do so.
That’s a very high-level look at the policy but let’s take a closer look at some of the important details you don’t want to miss.
Air Canada unaccompanied minor policy fees
Air Canada charges a fee of $100 CAD ($118.00 USD) for each segment, per child.
So if a child is flying from Toronto to Vancouver on a round-trip the total fees would be $200 CAD. If two children were on that flight the total fees would be $400 CAD.
This fee applies no matter what type of class is flown (economy, business class, first class, etc.)
These fees are pretty reasonable and on the lower side when compared to legacy carriers in the US.
It’s worth noting that this fee does include the price of a meal on certain flights but more on the below.
Want extra tips on flying with an unaccompanied minor? Read: Unaccompanied Minor Policy Ultimate Guide
Unaccompanied minor policy rules
You can only purchase the unaccompanied minor service if your minor is flying on a non-stop flight operated by Air Canada or Air Canada Rouge or a non-stop Air Canada Express flight operated by Jazz.
No child under the age of eight can travel as an unaccompanied minor. Instead, they must be accompanied by a passenger who is at least 16 years old.
Children aged eight through 11 must use the unaccompanied minor service if they are traveling alone.
If a child is 12 through 17 they have the option of utilizing the unaccompanied minor service but it is not required.
Compared to US airlines, the age limit is a little high for Air Canada. For example, many US airlines allow kids aged five through eight to fly as an unaccompanied minor.
Air Canada does not allow unaccompanied minors to fly on routes that include a connecting flight. So any time an unaccompanied minor is traveling they must be on a nonstop flight.
This is one of the stricter policies but a lot of airlines don’t want to risk something happening on the connection. For example, the kid could get lost in the airport.
Another worry is that in the event of delays or cancellations, connections just make things that much more difficult to resolve.
So be sure to start your flight search by filtering for nonstop flights.
Air Canada likes to seat unaccompanied minors in one of the back 3 rows of the plane, and this should be confirmed during the booking process.
Although flight attendants are not full-time babysitters having all of the kids sitting together just makes things simpler for them. Plus, they are near the washroom(s).
Air Canada will not allow children to travel unaccompanied if they are:
- blind or deaf
- severely allergic to peanuts/peanut products or has other severe allergies
- severely allergic to cats and dogs
- has a medical (physical or psychological) condition (including but not limited to allergies) that requires any special care, or the administration of medication during the flight
- likely to react negatively to air travel without a responsible adult known to him/her
If your child has any other type of medical condition they will not be able to travel as an unaccompanied minor unless they have prior medical approval.
To see what type of documents you will need for medical approval just contact the Air Canada Medical Assistance desk.
Medical conditions with unaccompanied minors are always tricky. If your child has a serious medical condition, I would be really cautious about utilizing the unaccompanied minor service.
Even the most qualified flight attendant could make a mistake or not know how to handle the unique health situation of your child.
Unaccompanied minors are not allowed to bring pets with them into the cabin. Sorry, Fido.
When you arrive at the airport you will head to the Air Canada check-in counter.
First, you need to supply documentation for the child.
For a flight within Canada, this can be a birth certificate, health card, passport or other government-issued identification.
(You need to bring original documents since they don’t trust photocopies.)
If there is an international flight, including flights to the US, the child must have a passport.
After providing identity documents, you will then fill out the “Request for Carriage” form.
This is basically the standard unaccompanied minor form and is going to require:
- Your child’s identification and flight number,
- The name(s) and contact information (including phone number and address) of the person(s) who will meet your child at his/her destination
- The authorizing signature of your child’s parent or guardian.
The agent will give your child an Unaccompanied Minor lanyard (hang-tag) so they may be easily identified by airport staff.
The staff will also have a UM envelope that will stay with an Air Canada agent.
This serves as a holder for the child’s passport and airline ticket along with other things like documents needed for immigration/customs.
Depending on the airport and the route, you may be given a “gate pass” which will allow you to escort unaccompanied minors all the way to the gate.
On international flights, this is not possible.
When you can’t accompany the child through security, and Air Canada agent will accompany them.
The unaccompanied minor will be able to take advantage of preboarding which will allow him or her to board in VIP style, before any of the main groups.
If you are the responsible adult for the unaccompanied minor you are required to not leave the airport until the flight takes off.
Note this is different from the flight leaving the gate.
Air Canada does not want you leaving until the flight actually leaves the ground because sometimes the flight has to return to the gate due to unforeseen issues.
By having you remain at the gate, the child will always have someone to take care of them in the event of a delay or cancellation.
Tip: If you are not able to go to the gate and watch the flight depart, you can use a flight tracking software or the airline’s app to monitor the status of the flight.
The flying experience
It’s always a good idea to pack some snacks with your child but they may also be able to chow down on some free snacks courtesy of Air Canada.
If your child age 8 to 17 is traveling as an unaccompanied minor on a flight offering only Air Canada Bistro service, the price of a meal or hot snack is included in the $100 fee.
Keep in mind that complimentary meal service will be provided for all passengers traveling in:
- North America and Caribbean Business Class
- International Business Class,
- International Economy Class, except on flights to/from Sun and Caribbean locations (Air Canada Bistro service is available on those flights).
Air Canada provides free nonalcoholic beverages on flights so your unaccompanied minor will be able to get something to drink without any additional cost.
Whenever your unaccompanied minor touches down at their destination, the In-flight Service Director will assist your child and give them over to an airport agent who will then escort them to arrivals where they can meet up with the individual listed on the UM envelope.
That individual will then be asked to provide photo identification and sign the UM envelope and then the process will be done.
If you have someone that can get a gate pass and meet your child at the gate that may be able to be done at some airports so contact Air Canada to see if that will be possible.
Also, remember that a lot of flights arrive early. It’s best to get to the airport extra early when picking up an unaccompanied minor, especially if you are trying to get a gate pass.
If something comes up and the assigned individual cannot be there to pick up the unaccompanied minor, contact Air Canada as soon as you can to work something out.
How to book unaccompanied minors on Air Canada
If you want to book an unaccompanied minor ticket, you need to contact Air Canada Reservations or your travel agent.
Just let them know that you have a child or children traveling alone and provide them with the details they need and they will be able to issue the ticket.
Unaccompanied minor flying tips
Try to keep carry-on baggage at a minimum so that nothing gets lost.
It is a good idea to attach ID and contact information on the outside or even the inside of their baggage.
Give your child some form of entertainment.
Popular items include tablets, books, and other toys to keep them occupied.
If they have a movie they love with a time length that is at least the duration of the flight time consider getting your kid to watch that. They could be glued to that the entire flight.
Remember, not all planes have seatback TVs and your kid might be more comfortable using something they are used to like a tablet.
Also, be sure that all the devices are properly charged because some planes may not have USB or power outlets and if they do they may not always be working.
Prepare the child properly
Do whatever you can to get your child comfortable and knowledgeable about traveling alone.
For example, let them know:
- The plane might shake a little bit but that is perfectly normal and okay
- They should keep their seatbelt on at all times
- The washroom is called a lavatory and is located in the back of the plane
- You use a special button to flush the lavatory and it’s kind of loud
- It’s not okay to kick the seat in front of them…
Also be realistic.
Some children just are not quite ready to fly alone and it might be better to work out a different flying situation if possible.
Air Canada has higher age limits than many other US airlines and is a little bit strict with connecting flights but otherwise they have a pretty standard unaccompanied minor policy.
The fees are a little bit on the lower side which is nice, especially considering the fees include free snacks and even meals sometimes.
Cover Photo by: Brussels Airport
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.