Parents should tell the airline when making a reservation that a child will be flying alone. There are usually extra forms to fill out.
More restrictions apply to international flights and some airlines prohibit unaccompanied minors on international trips or if the child’s itinerary includes another airline.
For more details, go to the airline’s website.
Here are highlights from policies for some of the leading U.S. airlines for children flying without an adult on domestic flights:
— American Airlines: Children from 5 to 7 can travel only on nonstop or direct flights (a direct flight is one which stops but the same plane goes on to the passenger’s final destination). Children from 8 to 14 can also fly on connecting flights if they go through one of the airline’s nine larger hub operations such as Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, as was the girl who was allegedly sexually abused on a flight last week. The fee is $150 each way on top of the ticket price.
— Delta Air Lines: Ages 5 to 7 can only fly on nonstop or direct flights; those 8 to 14 can make connecting flights on Delta. The airline says it scans the passenger’s barcoded wristbands during the trip and will eventually let parents track their child’s location online. The fee is $150 each way.
— United Airlines: Ages 5 to 15 can travel only on nonstop flights. Fee: $150 each way.
— Southwest Airlines: Ages 5 through 11 may fly only on nonstop or direct flights, and Southwest won’t take them on flights that could be diverted or cancelled because of bad weather or “other operational abnormalities.” The fee is $50 each way.
— JetBlue Airways: Ages 5 through 13 can fly on nonstop flights only and will be seated in certain rows in the back of the plane. The fee is $100 each way.
— Alaska Airlines: Ages 5-7 only allowed on nonstop and direct flights; those 8-12 can generally take connecting flights unless it’s the last one of the day or involves a layover of more than two hours.
— Hawaiian Airlines: Ages 5-11 can fly on any flight, even connecting ones, within Hawaii or to the North American mainland. The fee is $35 for flights in Hawaii, $100 to or from the mainland.
— Spirit Airlines: Ages 5-14 can fly on nonstop or flights that don’t require a change of plane or flight number. Fee: $100 each way.
— Virgin America: Ages 5-11 may fly only on nonstops. The fee is $75 each way for a flight under two hours, $100 for longer U.S. trips, $125 for flights to or from Mexico.
— Frontier Airlines: Ages 5-14 may travel on any nonstop flight. Fee, $100 each way.
— Allegiant Air: Does not allow children under 15 to travel without a companion who is at least 15.
Several airlines say that if two or more unaccompanied minors are from the same family and on the same flight, the fee is charged only once.
Many of the airlines also allow — but don’t require — older youths up to 16 or 17 to fly as unaccompanied minors by paying the extra fee.