Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. UponArriving has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. UponArriving and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
Are you looking to fly a child on Spirit Airlines without an accompanying adult? If so, there are some special restrictions and rules that you need to know about and also some fees that you will have to pay. In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about the Spirit Airlines unaccompanied minor policy.
What is the Spirit unaccompanied minor policy?
Spirit Airlines requires children ages five through fourteen traveling without an accompanying passenger aged 15 or older to travel as unaccompanied minors (UMs). This age limit is similar to other airlines like Delta, though it differs from Southwest.
(I’ll get into all of the specific details you need to know below.)
Tip: Spirit Airlines’ competitor Frontier Airlines does not allow for unaccompanied minors. So if you are trying to go with a low-cost carrier, you won’t be able to fly with Frontier and will probably need to look at Spirit or other airlines like Southwest.
What are the Spirit Airlines unaccompanied minor fees?
The Spirit Airlines unaccompanied minor service fee is $100 each way. $100 is not as cheap as Southwest (which is only $50) but it is cheaper than the legacy carriers (which all charge $150).
Because Spirit is known for tacking on so many fees, I was a bit surprised to find that their fees are very reasonable for unaccompanied minors.
While the fees for unaccompanied minors are very reasonable, you should also be aware of how the baggage fees work for Spirit Airlines since they are a bit different from the legacy carriers.
For example, they charge for carry-on items and the prices for both carry-on and checked baggage increases as you approach your departure date so you need to be mindful about how much baggage you will need when booking online. If you would like to find out more about how these baggage fees work click here.
Spirit unaccompanied minor rules
4 Years and Younger
Children 4 years old and younger may not travel alone. Another guest at least 15 years of age must accompany them. It is pretty standard for airlines to prevent children four years old and younger from traveling alone and for good reason. That’s just a little bit too young to be making your way through an airport by yourself.
Children 5-14 years old must travel as an unaccompanied minor when not traveling with an adult at least 15 years old. This is the typical age requirement for an unaccompanied minor.
15 Years and Older
Guests 15 years old and older are not required to have Unaccompanied Minor service, but they may be asked to present a picture ID or birth certificate to verify their age. This is important to note. If you have a child that is 15 years old or around that age and looks even younger they may be asked to supply a picture ID or birth certificate to verify their age.
It’s also worth noting that the unaccompanied minor service charge can be collected for guests that are 15 years or older if it is requested.
Minors are accepted only on direct flights which do not require a change of aircraft or flight number. So you cannot send an unaccompanied minor on a connecting flight.
Unaccompanied minors are also not allowed on international flights. Do note that domestic flights include Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Spirit unaccompanied minor process
When you book the reservation, make sure you select that a child is flying and supply the necessary birthday information. You can find out how to do that below.
- Be sure to check in at the gate at least 60 minutes prior to departure.
- At check-in, an Unaccompanied Minor form must be completed at the airport by someone with photo identification before they can accept the child for travel.
- This form will be inserted into the lanyard they provide that the Unaccompanied Minor must wear throughout the entire flight, and is needed for Spirit Airlines employees to identify Unaccompanied Minors.
Spirit recommends that you check in at the gate at least 60 minutes prior to departure but to be honest I think that is a little bit late.
You have to factor in that it will take a little bit of time to process the unaccompanied minor form and get the lanyard printed out and then you also have to think about checked baggage, security, and any unexpected security checks like SSSS that could slow you down.
So my advice would be to get to the check-in area at least 90 minutes prior to departure to be on the safer side.
Getting to the gate
The person dropping off the child at the airport should request a gate pass at the reservation counter, escort the child to the gate, and remain in the gate area with the unaccompanied minor until after the flight takes off.
Gate passes will only be issued to non-traveling individuals who present a government issued photo ID. So don’t forget that ID!
If you are dropping off an unaccompanied minor, your job does not stop at check-in. You are expected to obtain a gate pass that will allow you to get through security and on to the gate where the boarding will take place.
Like most other airlines, Spirit allows unaccompanied minors to enter the plane during pre-boarding. These are the first passengers to board and so the boarding process is a little bit less stressful.
If the unaccompanied minor arrives late and does not make it in time for pre-boarding, they will be the last to be boarded. This just underscores the need to get to the airport early, especially if your child is not necessarily super comfortable with flying alone.
The person dropping off the child must remain at the airport for 15 minutes after the flight takes off. It is a common requirement for the parent to remain at the gate for 15 minutes after departure just in case something happens and the plane has to return to the gate.
So if you are dropping off a child just give yourself enough time to escort them all the way through security to the gate and then an additional 15 minutes after departure. Keep in mind that delays can happen so try to be conservative with allocating yourself enough time for all of these steps.
When the flight arrives at its final destination, the child will be escorted off the aircraft by a flight attendant and released to the person designated on the Unaccompanied Minor form or to a Spirit employee.
Remember that flights often arrive several minutes early so I would always advise you to arrive at the airport 30 to 60 minutes prior to the scheduled landing time.
You can use different types of apps to track the flights, and I always recommend people to use FlightAware so that you would know exactly when the flight will land.
Snack and drink
Spirit Airlines will offer your child a snack and drink on board. While the airline will offer them a snack and drink, you know your kids appetite best so it would probably be a good idea to send them flying with some sort of snack pack that you know they will like.
You also want to think about what types of entertainment they will need to keep them busy on a plane.
How to book a Spirit unaccompanied minor reservation
To make a reservation for an unaccompanied minor simply make a reservation online as you normally would. Be sure to select that a child is traveling on the flight and that will prompt you to input their birthdate information. You can see where to select that a child is traveling in the image below.
After you input your flight details and select to search flights you should see the following window pop up. Simply input the birthdate of the child in order to proceed.
The next screen will tell you if your child is eligible to fly as an unaccompanied minor and will also break down the fees for you. Simply click on “Accept” to proceed with the reservation.
You should note that the price of the airfare will include the $100 unaccompanied minor service fee. By the way, if you want to save on airfare tickets you should consider looking into the $9 Fare Club. That club will help you save on airfare and also on baggage fees.
Unlike some other airlines like JetBlue, there is not a reserved area for unaccompanied minors so if you do not purchase a seat, the child will be given a seat at random.
You should also be aware of the cancellation and change fees for Spirit. Unlike an airline like Southwest Airlines, where you can make changes for free, you will have to pay fees to make changes on Spirit Airlines. Here are the change fees:
- Regular tickets change fees are $90 for modifications made online or $100 for modifications made at the airport or over the phone. Same-day flight changes, aka standby for an earlier flight, will be $99.
- Flex Flight tickets have no change fees for the first modification made online, but after the first modification, you will have the standard change fee of $90 for modifications made online or $100 made at the airport or over the phone.
- Award ticket change fee is $110 for modifications. Modifications can only be done over the phone.
Spirit has a pretty typical unaccompanied minor service fee and policy. The $100 fee is on the lower side and the age requirements are roughly similar to other airlines. One major thing to remember is that unaccompanied minors are not allowed on international flights and also not allowed on connecting flights. If you are trying to fly a young person by themselves to an international destination or need connecting flights, other airlines will allow you to do that.
UponArriving has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. UponArriving and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
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.