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Sending a little one unaccompanied off to another destination in another state or even country can feel like a daunting task. Many different types of unexpected challenges can come up and so you obviously want to do your best to make sure that the unaccompanied minor is in good hands.
In this article, I will break down everything you need to know about the Delta Airlines unaccompanied minor policy, including things like the fees, and I’ll also show the different rules that apply to different ages and provide some tips for unaccompanied minors.
What is the Delta unaccompanied minor policy?
Delta Airlines requires children aged five through fourteen to be accompanied through the airport for an additional fee. If the child is four years or younger he or she must be accompanied by an adult (passenger aged 18 or older).
Several rules and restrictions apply depending on the age of your child and potentially the location of their travel so keep reading below for more details.
What are the Delta Airlines unaccompanied minor fees?
The unaccompanied minor service fee is $150 plus tax each way. The fee will be in US dollars but will be in Canadian dollars or in Euros when departing Canada or Europe.
This fee will apply to travel within the US but also to international travel on both nonstop and connecting flights. And just don’t forget that this fee is in addition to the ticketed fare (the cost of the ticket).
This price is good for up to four children. So if there are four unaccompanied minors 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).
Delta Airlines unaccompanied minor rules
There are different restrictions that apply to children depending on their age. Keep in mind that their age is determined based on their age at that time of travel and not at the time of booking.
- Four years and younger: If the child is four years and younger the child may not travel alone and must be accompanied by a passenger at least 18 years old.
- 5 to 7 years: If the child is 5 to 7 years old they may travel on some nonstop flights only.
- 8 to 14 years: If the child is 8 to 14 years old they make travel on some nonstop and on some connecting flights.
- 15 to 17: Children who are ages 15 through 17 are permitted to travel as a standard passenger but you can still pay for them to travel as an unaccompanied minor if that makes you feel more comfortable.
It is common for some airlines to have strict restrictions when it comes to allowing unaccompanied minors on connecting flights with different airlines. However, with the Delta you are allowed to connect on: Air France and KLM.
Travel is not permitted on the last connecting flight of the day and on redeye flights, which are flights between 9pm and 8am. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If the qualify connecting flight is not available then the following flights will still be allowed:
- International flights
- Domestic short-haul flights which are flights two hours or less that are nonstop
- Flights to and from Alaska and Hawaii
- Markets with only one connection when it is the last flight of the day
- If your child needs any type of medicine administered to him or her Delta is not able to give them that medication.
How to book an unaccompanied minor (phone number)
If you want to book a reservation for an unaccompanied minor you should contact unaccompanied minor reservations at the following phone number: 800-325-8847. This is a dedicated phone number for unaccompanied minors.
Tip: At the time of booking the adult reservation, you will provide a four digit pin number that will be required to make any changes to that itinerary so don’t lose it.
Documents needed for unaccompanied minor check-in
If an unaccompanied minor arrives at the check-in counter alone a Delta agent will not be permitted to complete check-in. A parent or guardian must always be present at the time of check-in for the process to begin.
At the time of check-in the adult with the unaccompanied minor must provide the following documents:
- Photo ID (License, passport etc.)
- Address that matches the ID
- Contact phone number
- The name, address, and phone number of the adult meeting the unaccompanied minor at the destination
Once the agent has your information you will then be responsible for paying the unaccompanied minor fee. A Delta agent should also review the program rules with you.
At the time of check in, you should receive a bracelet for your child to wear in-flight. This wristband will have a barcode that will be scanned at important points which will enable them to track where the minor is. In the future, this might be a more advanced feature that allows you to get more real-time data on where the child is.
You should also be issued an envelope for the child which will include all of the travel documents such as a boarding card, unaccompanied minor form, and additional travel documents like passports, baggage claims forms, etc.
When you arrive at the check-in gate you should check in with the gate agent for verification reasons. The parent or the designated company adult must remain at the gate until the flight has departed. And by departure they don’t mean simply leave the gate they mean the airplane has physically taken off from the ground.
Connecting flights (Delta Sky Zones)
If the minor is connecting through another city, the minor will be assisted by a Delta or business partner employee.
If the child is connecting through certain cities, they might be able to take advantage of Delta Sky Zones. These offer special children only areas were they can use complimentary phones and take advantage of certain activities suited for kids like books, toys, and video games.
Here are the cities that offer Delta Sky Zones:
- New York (JFK)
- Los Angeles
- Salt Lake City
A valid ID must be presented with signature captured of the person meeting the child at the time of pickup. Delta will refuse to release the child to any person other than the individual named for pick up.
Delta asks that the parent or adult picking up the child to arrive to the destination airport two hours prior to the scheduled arrival in order to have enough time to get a gate pass. If for some reason the person changes who is designated to pick up the child, you should call Delta to provide new information.
The parent or guardian picking up the child will also have to sign an acceptance of responsibility form.
The flying process
When it is time for the aircraft to depart a Delta Airlines employee should take your child on board before the general boarding begins. This will help to give enough time to introduce the child to the flight attendants and crew and also for the child to take their seat and get familiar with the aircraft and some of its features such as where the lavatory is.
You will not be allowed to board the aircraft with your child and instead will have to say your goodbyes from the terminal area. And remember, you need to stay in the area until the plane takes off just in case the plane does end up returning back to the terminal gate.
Country specific regulations
A lot of foreign countries have specific rules about children under the age of 18 flying alone. You can read more about these requirements here but below is a breakdown of some of the restrictions that you might encounter:
Any passenger under 18 traveling alone to/from Mexico must have a notarized letter with authorization from a parent and translated in Spanish, otherwise they will be refused entry.
Passengers traveling with minors will be required to present additional documentation in order to enter or depart South Africa.
Unaccompanied minors of Italian citizenship under the age of 14 that are traveling internationally will have to have additional documents.
Unaccompanied minor flying tips
Here are some tips to take into consideration for an an unaccompanied minor.
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 the bag.
Many flights will not offer a meal service and may only supply snacks so it’s a good idea to pack food for the flight. In other cases, you may want to give the child a sum of money to spend in case they get hungry and some parents even give their child their credit card or debit card.
It is also a good idea to give your child some form of entertainment. Popular items include tablets, books, and other toys to keep them occupied.
Inform the child properly
Do whatever you can to get your child comfortable and knowledgeable about traveling alone. Let them know that they should only speak to Delta Airlines agents if they have any questions or need any help. Also, make it clear that they should never leave the airport or even the gate area unless they are accompanied by a Delta Airlines employee with a badge.
Sitting in different cabins
If the child ages five through 14 is going to be sitting in a separate cabin from an adult aged 18 years or older, they must enroll in the unaccompanied minor program. The fee, seating, and routing research since will not apply and if you have any questions I recommend that you call Delta.
The Delta unaccompanied minor policy is pretty straightforward compared to other airline programs. The key is to be aware of any possible restrictions with routing and connections and to also do your best to prepare the minor for the travel experience. They should be in good hands with Delta so there probably is nothing to worry about but it always pays to be prepared.
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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. 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.