If you want to send your child or a minor on a flight alone on British Airways, your booking experience might be quite different from many other airlines, especially those located in the US.
To help with some of the confusion, we’ve created a guide that will help you understand how British Airways treats unaccompanied minors and what you can expect.
So keep reading below for everything you need to know!
What is the British Airways unaccompanied minor policy?
British Airways does not have an unaccompanied minor service although they do allow children 14 years or older to fly alone.
If the child is 14 or 15 years old and traveling alone a parental/guardian consent form must be completed before travel.
Despite being one of the most popular airlines in the world, British Airways ended its unaccompanied minor service in 2016.
The program was called “Skyflyer Solo” and ended as a result of budget cuts and also reduced popularity of the program.
Reportedly, there was a big drop in the unaccompanied minors that used to fly between ex-pat hotspots like Hong Kong, Kenya, and the Caribbean.
The drop of the unaccompanied minor service appears to be unrelated to the legal issues British Airways dealt with related to sex discrimination.
Basically, British Airways would not allow men to sit next to unaccompanied minors which resulted in some legal issues until they ended the practice in 2010.
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What are the British Airways unaccompanied minor fees?
Since British Airways does not provide an unaccompanied minor service they do not require any fees.
If you would like you can look into the Meet and Assist program available at London Heathrow.
Whether you are arriving, connecting, or departing, you can have a staff member help assist your minor at the airport from the beginning to the end of their airport journey. Prices may depend on the route but you can expect to pay around £125.00.
British Airways unaccompanied minor rules
If a child is under 14 years old, they cannot fly alone under any circumstances. British Airways is very clear about this and as far as I can tell there are no exceptions.
However, if a child under 14 is traveling with someone 16 years or older on the same itinerary they will be allowed to fly. In that situation, I don’t believe any paperwork is needed.
If a child is 14 years old or 15 years old and traveling alone they must have a completed parent/guardian consent form filled out in order for them to travel.
The consent form is pretty basic.
It requires you to fill out contact information and also requires you to provide a copy of a signed identification form such as a passport.
The form does speak to the issue of handling a delayed or canceled flight where your child will need overnight accommodation.
The key is to make sure that you or someone else is available to pick up the kids from the departing airport in that situation.
If not, then British Airways will contact the authorities and/or child protection authorities to provide advice or care which just does not sound like a great situation.
The form also grants permission for the minor to travel by taxi or stay in a hotel room unaccompanied if there is a travel disruption away from the point of departure/destination.
How to book a British Airways unaccompanied minor reservation
Unlike many airlines that allow you to book special bookings for children, you cannot do this with British Airways online.
If you need to make a booking for someone under the age of 16 who is traveling solo, you will need to contact British Airways to make the booking.
Unlike in the US were many unaccompanied minors are simply flying around the country domestically, in the UK a lot of flights will be headed to international destinations.
Since there is no unaccompanied minor service, your child of 14 years or older will be flying as an adult. This means that he or she will have to learn how to navigate the airport and get through customs and immigration on their own.
For that reason, you want to make sure that your child is responsible and mature enough to get through those areas without major complications.
Encourage the child to ask questions from officials in the airport that have uniforms on or that are working information desks.
Some airports are extremely easy to get around in while others can be more confusing, even for adults.
In some cases, you may be able to print out a map and show your kid where to go but sometimes that is much easier to do on paper than it is in real life.
Try to book nonstop flights
One thing that you can do to make life easier for the minor is to book nonstop flights.
Nonstop flights are usually recommended for younger kids under the age of 18.
This is for two reasons.
First, dealing with connections can be stressful and difficult especially if there is a limited time window and the airport is particularly large or confusing to navigate.
Also, if there happens to be a delay and the kid is forced to stay overnight they would have to check into a hotel and many hotels have age limits on checking in.
This is especially true in the US.
They may not allow a kid under the age of 18 to check in and that could be a very difficult situation to put your child in.
Make sure to get signed permission forms
If the minor is traveling internationally including Europe, the minor may need an official document signed by their parents or legal guardian(s) providing them with permission to travel.
There are no universal EU rules on permission forms for minors. Instead, each EU country decides if it requires the child to have an official authorization. You can search for the country your minor is traveling to here to see the requirements.
Also, the UK has special rules for taking children abroad. You are required to obtain permission of everyone with parental responsibility for a child or from a court before taking the child abroad.
I would suggest that you read up on this resource so that you don’t get charged with child abduction by failing to get permission!
In addition, you can search country specific requirements for various travel documentation here.
British Airways recommendations
British Airways has some specific recommendations to help your young traveler. Many of these are pretty much common sense but I’ve added some additional insight.
If you really want to get deep into all of the tips for traveling with unaccompanied minors, then you should check out our guide.
Verify the travel documents
You’ll want to make sure that the child has any necessary travel documents such as a valid passport, any visas, and proof of return travel (as required).
If you think the minor might lose the passport or travel documents, consider attaching them to a minor’s neck lanyard or something similar.
You might also think about using something like Apple ID tags for the minor’s luggage so that things can be easily tracked if lost.
Bring the signed consent form
Make sure that the child has the signed British Airways consent form and a copy of the parent/guardian’s passport or other form of photographic identification showing a signature attached to the form.
Ideally, the parent/guardian would take the child through the check-in process and verify that the travel documents and consent forms are sufficient.
It’s also always recommended that the parent or guardian remain at the airport until the plane has taken off.
If you want to take your child to the gate but are not able to do that, one trick is to book a fully refundable flight.
As long as you cancel that in time you won’t be out any money but the ticket should give you access through airport security and allow you to drop the minor off at the gate for a proper goodbye.
Any required medication and/or health certificates
Even with airlines that have unaccompanied minor policies, they usually state that they do not administer medication to minors.
And since British Airways does not have an unaccompanied minor service, you need to ensure that your child is well aware of how to administer his or her own medication.
Also, if there are any health certificates needed related to any conditions, make sure the child has them in their possession so that they can show them to someone in the event of an emergency.
You want your child to have the ability to communicate with their parent or guardian and also the individual who will be picking them up at their destination.
Make sure that the child has a fully charged mobile device with sufficient credit and roaming activated if needed. If you’re worried about the device going dead, you have a couple of options.
You can try to book an aircraft that has power outlets although that may not always be feasible. And even if the aircraft does have outlets the outlet being used by the minor could be out of service.
Second, you can buy a battery juice pack that will allow the minor to charge his or her device while traveling.
Something else to consider is that it should not be hard to find a plane with Wi-Fi.
You can go through the steps to help your child know how to connect and if they have issues they can even ask a flight attendant who should be able to assist.
This could help you to remain in communication throughout the flight if you would like more peace of mind.
Credit card or cash
You never know what type of expenses a child might have unexpectedly. They may need to buy a phone charger, a taxi to a hotel, a hotel night, a prepaid phone that works, etc.
It’s a really good idea to send some cash or a credit card with your child and just explain to them the parameters of using it.
Flights operated by SUN-AIR or Comair have different age requirements for unaccompanied minors.
They allow young children between the ages of 5 to 11 years to travel without a parent or legal guardian provided you contact the airline in advance. So be sure to look into those airlines if you would like to book an unaccompanied minor service.
Also, American Airlines is a partner of British Airways and they do have an unaccompanied minor policy that you can read about here.
Unfortunately, British Airways does not provide a traditional unaccompanied minor service to help young kids through the airport.
Instead, they simply don’t allow any kids to fly alone unless they are at least 14 years old.
This means that you need to take extra care to make sure your child is mature enough to handle navigating through an airport and that you take all the precautions necessary to ensure that you will be able to communicate with them throughout the process.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, 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. Since 2014, 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.