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Sending your child unaccompanied through an airport to another destination can seem like a pretty daunting task. There are a lot of things that can come up and present challenges for your minor and you obviously want to make sure that they are in good hands.
In this article, I will break down everything you need to know about the American Airlines unaccompanied minor policy, including things like the fees and forms. I’ll also show the different rules that apply to different ages and provide some tips for unaccompanied minors.
What is the American Airlines unaccompanied minor policy?
American Airlines has an unaccompanied minor policy that requires children aged five through fourteen to be accompanied through the airport for an additional fee. However, there are several limitations and restrictions that apply depending on the age of your child and potentially the location of their travel so be sure to keep reading below for more details.
What are the American Airlines unaccompanied minor fees?
The unaccompanied minor service fee is $150 plus tax each way. So a round trip will cost you $300 in service fees plus the remaining tax (plus the amount of your airline ticket).
If there are two or more unaccompanied minors from the same family then you only have to pay the $150 service fee one time. So for example, if you had three children setting out on a one way flight the total that you would have to pay is $150 (plus tax).
American Airlines unaccompanied minor rules
Your child may only be eligible for the unaccompanied minor service on certain routes depending on its age. Basically, your child will have to be at least eight years old in order to travel on the connecting routes through certain airports. Otherwise, your child will have to fly on nonstop for direct flights.
If there is a connecting flight, your child will be chaperoned through the terminal to make their connection.
Here are the current rules for different ages via AA.com.
|0-5||Children under 5 years of age may not travel alone under any circumstances.|
|5-7||Can only travel on nonstop or direct flights.|
|8-14||Can travel on any nonstop or direct flight, or any connecting flight through Charlotte, NC (CLT), Washington Reagan, D.C. (DCA), Dallas Forth Worth, TX (DFW), New York, NY (JFK and LGA), Los Angeles, CA (LAX), Miami, FL (MIA), Chicago, IL (ORD), Philadelphia, PA (PHL) and Phoenix, AZ (PHX).|
|15-17||Children in this age range don’t have to use the unaccompanied minor service, but it’s still available to them. When traveling alone, children 16 years of age and older can book online, to book children 15 years of age, you’ll need to call Reservations.|
Note: Children 2-14 years old can travel as an “accompanied minor” with someone 16 years or older.
American Airlines won’t accept unaccompanied minors when their itineraries include:
- A connection to/from another airline, including codeshare and oneworld® partners
- Ground/co-terminal connections (unaccompanied minors under 15 years, can’t use ground transportation alone)
- The last flight of the day from the final connection city, unless it’s the only scheduled flight offered
- Overnight connecting flights, unless it’s the only scheduled flight offered
How the process works
Unaccompanied minor form
You will need to fill out the unaccompanied minor form whenever you arrive at check-in at the airport. This is a pretty basic form and if you want to get an idea of what it looks like you can click here.
I would not print out that specific form and fill it out because the form that you need to fill out at the airport might be different or updated. However taking a glance at that form should give you an idea of what you’ll need to know when filling out the form at the airport and give you a sense of what terms and conditions you’re agreeing to.
Basically the form requires you to identify the individual who may be picking up your minor at the final destination. You also will likely be agreeing that American airlines has the authority to take “appropriate” measures to ensure the minors custody in the event that the individual identified to pick up the child does not arrive.
Something that you need to note is that the form must remain with the child throughout the entire flight.
You will also need to bring documents to provide proof of age. This could be in the form of something like a birth certificate or passport. These documents might also be required for TSA, so keep them handy.
Get a security pass
In order to escort your minor all the way to the gate you will need to get a security pass. So be sure to bring your government issued ID in order to obtain this pass. The parent or designated adult will be expected to remain at the gate in order to supervise the child until the time of departure.
It is recommended that you arrive early at the airport in order to ensure that you have enough time to get this pass and to fill out all necessary paperwork.
When picking up a minor at the destination the adult needs to be sure to pick up a security pass so they will need to have the government issued ID on them when they arrive at the airport. They will then be allowed to access the gate where the flight will be arriving.
It’s a very good idea to arrive extra early because many flights do arrive extra early and you want to make sure that you are there at the gate when they exit. If you would like to monitor the flight to see exactly when it is scheduled to arrive you should check out the website or app like Flight Aware.
If your miner is traveling internationally you might not be able to accompany them through security into the gate. And in that case an American Airlines representative will accompany them and supervise them until the flight departs.
Also, anyone under 18 traveling internationally without both parents may be required to present a Letter of Consent. Here is a sample of a letter of consent.
Tips for unaccompanied minors
If your minor is flying on the company for the first time then you should probably considered some of these additional tips.
Introduce them to the airport
They can make the child feel much more comfortable if you take a pre-visit to the airport just to familiarize them with the airport and some of the agents working. Let them see what the agents look like so that your minor can easily identify them and ask for help whenever their trip comes up.
Inform the gate agent
If this is your minor’s first ever flight be sure to inform the gate agent about that so that they can take extra protective measures to ensure the safety and comfort of your minor. This is especially the case if you think that your child will be emotional/scared during the flight.
It also can be a good idea to write detailed notes for the flight attendants so that they are aware of any restrictions you have regarding diet or certain things you think they should be aware about regarding your child.
Keep them entertained
It’s a good idea to have your minor pack some things that will keep them entertained so that they do not get very bored on the flight. The flight attendants are not able or required to devote 100% of their attention during the flight to keeping your child occupied, entertained, etc.
Tablets are obviously a great choice here but you may also think about things like books, coloring books, toys, etc. If your child will have electronics on them be sure to give them some headphones so that they are not distracting or annoying other passengers.
Keep them fed
It is suggested that you pack some extra food and snacks for your child. If you are wondering what types of food and snacks you can bring to the airport and onto the plane click here for more about that.
If your child is getting ready to go on a longer flight consider eating a nice meal with them at the airport prior to departure. If you suspect that they might want to order something from the in-flight menu, you may have to lend them your credit card just so that they have some way of paying for the food since many airlines do not accept cash.
Minimize the carry-ons
It is a good idea to limit your minor to only one carry-on bag so that they do not risk forgetting the additional bag.
Sending your unaccompanied minor through the airport into their destination does not have to be a very stressful experience. But you definitely need to know about the different policy restrictions and rules for doing so and also try to make an extra effort to make your minor as comfortable as possible throughout the process.
Cover photo by LoadedAaron.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the digital smart wallet, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.