Flying alone: Minimum age & tips [2024] - Flightright UK

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The most important facts about “When can you fly alone?”

  • Legal regulations vary: No uniform minimum age limit for solo flying in the EU, with exceptions in Italy and Spain.
  • Age limits of the airlines: Unaccompanied travel is possible from the age of 5, with compulsory childcare services for 5- to 11-year-olds and optional for 12- to 13-year-olds.
  • Preparation and documentation: Obtain the necessary travel documents, book a childcare service, prepare the child for the trip.
  • Accompanying and receiving: Trusted persons must accompany or receive children at the place of departure and destination, identity check required.
  • Flight delays and cancellations: Airline informs parents and provides care until onward journey or return.
  • Compensation claims: In the event of delays or cancellations, ticket purchasers, usually the parents, usually receive compensation.


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There are many reasons to travel, whether it’s to visit family and relatives, to explore new places or simply for a vacation, which is often a real adventure.

However, children and young people in particular often ask at what age they are allowed to board an airplane. While most airlines allow underage passengers to fly unaccompanied from a certain age and offer special childcare services for younger children, there is no legal age limit for travelling alone. Before travelling by air, it is important to find out about the specific guidelines of the respective airlines and the entry regulations of the destination country.

From what age are you allowed to fly alone?

There is no legal minimum age limit for minors to fly solo.

However, airlines have introduced specific rules and regulations that both underage and adult passengers must follow. There are different age groups for which special regulations apply. This applies to young passengers between the ages of 5 and 11 and young people between the ages of 12 and 13. Children under the age of 14 are not permitted to fly alone.

Italy and Spain as exceptions

When we talk about legal requirements, Italy and Spain are the only EU countries where it is a legal requirement for certain young age groups of Spanish and Italian nationality to have an accompanying person during the flight.

From what age can your child fly alone?

The decision as to when your child can fly alone depends on several factors. For anyone considering letting their child fly alone, it’s not just about age. It’s a mixture of legal requirements, airline guidelines, the maturity of the child and logistical support to ensure a safe and reassuring journey.

In general, parents can let their child fly on vacation independently from the age of 12, whereby only a few travel documents and papers are required.

Regulations for Unaccompanied Children (2023/2024)

The minimum age for unaccompanied children varies by airline. Generally, children aged 14 years and older can fly alone on domestic or international flights.

  • Children under 14 years old must be accompanied by someone aged 16 years or older – they cannot fly alone.
  • For children aged 5-11 years, a supervision service for unaccompanied minors is mandatory on most British airlines and comes with additional costs. This service ensures supervision throughout the journey.
  • For adolescents aged 12-13 years, the supervision service is optional but recommended. Registration (special travel documents) might still be required.
  • Teenagers aged 14 and older can fly alone without needing a special supervision service. They are considered adult passengers.

In general, unaccompanied children on UK flights must be at least 14 years old.

The supervision service for unaccompanied minors (UM Service) is mandatory for children aged 5-11 years and is optionally available for adolescents aged 12-13 years on certain airlines.

Requirements for Your Child’s Solo Flight

Child Flight Accompaniment: For children aged 5-11 years, booking a flight accompaniment (UM Service) through the airline is necessary. This ensures your child flies safely and supervised. Additional fees apply.

Flying with Friends: Some airlines allow children to travel with friends, provided the friend is at least 16 years old.

Unaccompanied Minors (UM): Children aged 12-13 years can fly alone if they have written parental permission. Sometimes, it may be required that they are accompanied by someone aged 16 years or older or by the professional supervision service for added safety during the flight.

Youth Travel: From the age of 14, adolescents are allowed to fly alone without accompaniment, provided they have parental consent and the necessary travel documents. This offers teenagers the freedom to travel independently while ensuring that all necessary safety measures are in place.

These guidelines ensure safe travel for children and teenagers, with rules for solo flights varying slightly by airline.

The age at which you are allowed to fly alone depends on the airline

The following information applies to travelling alone without an accompanying person and in conjunction with the care service for unaccompanied minors (Unaccompanied Minor Service – UM Service for short):

 

Lufthansa – from 5 years

Lufthansa offers children aged 5 and over the option of travelling with the Unaccompanied Minors (UM) service. This service is mandatory for all children under the age of 12 who are travelling alone.

From the age of 12, children are allowed to fly without the UM service, giving them greater independence on their travels.

More Info on Lufthansa

Air France – from 4 years

Air France sets itself slightly apart from the others with an age limit of 4 years for domestic flights and 5 years for international flights, with UM service available for children up to the age of 12 (domestic) and 15 (international).

This regulation shows special consideration for younger children travelling internationally.

More Info on Air France

Eurowings – from 5 years

Just like Lufthansa, Eurowings allows children from the age of 5 to fly with the UM service, while children from the age of 12 have the freedom to travel without this service.

A special feature of Eurowings is that children between the ages of 5 and 11 can also be accompanied by a sibling who is at least 16 years old. This offers families flexible travel options.

More Info on eurowings.com

Condor – from 5 years

Condor also offers the UM service for children travelling alone from the age of 5. From the age of 12, children can fly without this service. Condor is known for its family-friendly services and ensures that even the youngest passengers have an enjoyable travel experience.

More Info on Condor

Ryanair – from 16 years

Ryanair does not offer a UM service, which is why unaccompanied minor travel is only possible from the age of 16. This policy reflects the airline’s general business policy of efficiency and simplicity, which means that it does not provide special services for unaccompanied minors under the age of 16.

More Info on ryanair.com

Easyjet – from 16 years

EasyJet only allows young people to travel alone from the age of 16, as it does not offer an escort service for unaccompanied minors (UM Service). This option is therefore not available for younger travellers, which parents and guardians should take into account when planning trips for their children.

More Info on easyJet

Iberia – from 5 years

With Iberia, children from the age of 5 can travel with the support of the UM Service. From the age of 12, they are also allowed to fly without this special service.

More Info on Iberia

American Airlines – from 5 years

American Airlines allows children from the age of 5 to use the UM Service for minors travelling alone. From the age of 15, teenagers may travel without this service.

More Info on American Airlines (aa.com)

Turkish Airlines – from 7 years

Children from the age of 7 can use the UM service to travel alone. From the age of 12, children are allowed to fly unaccompanied on Turkish Airlines.

More Info on Turkish Airlines ®

British Airways – from 14 years

British Airways differs from the other airlines in that it only allows unaccompanied minors from the age of 14 and has completely abolished the UM service. This could be a challenge for families who are used to using the UM service for younger children.

More Info on British Airways

Table: When children are allowed to fly alone

AirlineRegulation
Lufthansa – from 5 yearsSolo travel from 5 years old only with UM Service. From 12 years old, completely alone is possible.
Air France – from 4 yearsSolo travel from 4 years old on domestic flights (France) and from 5 years old internationally, both with UM Service. Complete solo travel from 12 years old (domestic) and 15 years old (international) possible.
Eurowings – from 5 yearsFrom 5 years old with UM Service and from 12 years old without UM Service. Alternatively, a sibling at least 16 years old can accompany children aged 5-11.
Condor – from 5 yearsFrom 5 years old with UM Service. From 12 years old without UM Service.
Ryanair – from 16 yearsNo UM Service available, so solo travel is only possible from 16 years old.
EasyJet – from 16 yearsNo UM Service available, so solo travel is only possible from 16 years old.
Iberia – from 5 yearsFrom 5 years old with UM Service and from 12 years old without UM Service possible.
American Airlines – from 5 yearsFrom 5 years old with UM Service and from 15 years old without UM Service possible.
Turkish Airlines – from 7 yearsSolo travel with UM Service from 7 years old. From 12 years old, solo travel without UM Service is possible.
British Airways – from 14 yearsSolo travel is only allowed for teenagers from 14 years old. The UM Service has been discontinued.

Your child is flying alone and the flight is delayed or canceled – what to do?

Airport-board-all-flights-with-delays .

In the event of a flight delay or cancellation, there are clear steps you can take to ensure the well-being and safety of your unaccompanied minor.

The airline should inform you immediately, so it is important to be available at all times. The airline will take measures to look after your child, such as providing meals or alternative travel arrangements.

Minor children travelling alone have the same rights as adult passengers. According to the EU Passenger Rights Regulation, they are entitled to compensation from the airline in the event of such incidents.

You can rely on the support of our experts in the following cases:
Flight delay compensation, flight cancellation compensation
Compensation for overbooking
Compensation for denied boarding

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When did the airline inform you of the flight cancellation or delay?
On the day of the flight or less than 14 days before or more than 14 days before departure.

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If the flight has to be rebooked, your child will remain in the care of the airline’s staff. They will ensure that your child is safely rebooked on the next possible flight and is looked after during the waiting time. If an overnight stay is necessary, the airline will arrange suitable accommodation and supervision.

The UM service will remain in place until the child has reached the final destination. Parents should remain in continuous contact with the airline and provide the required documents.

It is advisable to read the guidelines and conditions of the respective airline carefully and to contact them directly if you have any questions.

Who gets the compensation – my child or me?

If your child is travelling alone on a direct flight and the flight is delayed or cancelled, it is important to know who is entitled to compensation.

In most cases, compensation for a delayed or cancelled direct flight would be paid to the person who purchased the ticket.  If you are the person who booked and paid for the direct flight for your child, then you would be entitled to compensation. Check your entitlement now and secure your rights!

The situation can be more complex when travelling with stopovers and transfers. Here it is advisable to check the terms and conditions of the respective airlines, in particular the rules for the transportation of unaccompanied minors and the handling of delays or cancellations.

Childcare for children travelling alone usually ends at the stopover, so that a new childcare service must be booked for the onward flight, which can affect the responsibilities for compensation claims.

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What documents should children carry with them?

Before take-off and after landing, the child should carry the small shoulder bag provided by the escort service and always have it to hand.

A small travel backpack with essential items for children is also extremely useful. These include toys to keep the child occupied, such as a favorite cuddly toy, small coloring books or a deck of cards. You can also pack snacks and drinks, a spare item of clothing, toiletries and a cell phone, if you have one.

Important documents for children flying alone:

  • Flight ticket / e-tickets
  • Valid identity card / passport
  • Declaration of consent by the legal guardian for the child to travel alone
  • the completed support form
  • Visa for the destination country, if applicable

Additional documents if necessary:

  • Confirmation of travel insurance
  • Allergy card
  • Airline specific documents

Childcare service for unaccompanied children

…also called UM Service (Unaccompanied Minor Service).

The childcare service for children travelling alone is a service provided by airlines to ensure the safety and well-being of unaccompanied children. It is aimed at children from 5 to 11 years of age, although the age limits may vary. The childcare service includes accompanying the child from handover at the departure airport, on board the aircraft to handover at the destination airport.

Before the trip, parents/guardians must check the provider’s requirements and book the service in advance, which may incur additional fees. Important documents, such as the child’s consent form and passport, must be prepared. It is also important to prepare the child for the trip and explain what to expect.

During the journey, the childcare staff ensure that the child is accompanied and safe, help with boarding and look after the child during the flight. Flight attendants who are trained in looking after unaccompanied children assume responsibility until they are handed over to an authorized person at their destination.

In summary, the childcare service offers important support for families to ensure that children travelling alone are safe and cared for.

Important notes on booking the UM service for flights with several airlines

It is important to note that if several airlines are involved in a flight, a UM service (Unaccompanied Minor Service) must be booked separately for each airline, as these services are airline-dependent.

This makes travel planning for unaccompanied minors more complex, as each airline involved has its own policies and procedures for the care of unaccompanied minors. It is therefore recommended to book direct flights, especially abroad.

Preparation and travel planning: What should I bear in mind when travelling alone with children?

Careful travel planning is crucial to minimize risks and ensure the child’s well-being. Choose a trustworthy airline, clarify supervision issues and ensure that all travel documents are available.

Check the airline guidelines before booking the flight

Before booking a flight for a child travelling alone, it is important to check the specific guidelines and requirements of the airline in question. This may include age restrictions, identification requirements and special services such as being accompanied by the flight crew.

Declaration of consent by parents

For children travelling alone, a written declaration of consent from parents or legal guardians is usually required. This declaration should contain all necessary contact details and possibly special instructions for supervision during the trip.

Escort service or care

As already mentioned, many airlines offer an escort service for children travelling alone. This service includes looking after the child from check-in to handover to the authorized recipient at the destination. The details and age limits of this service vary depending on the airline.

Travel preparations – getting children fit

To prepare for the journey, children should be fully informed and prepared for various situations. This includes how to behave in the event of delays, how to treat the on-board staff with respect and how to recognise and communicate their needs. This helps to avoid stress.

Arrival at the airport

Allow sufficient time for check-in, security checks and boarding. Accompanying adults should ensure that the child has all the necessary documents with them and know how and where they can get help.

Escort at the airport

It can be helpful for the time at the airport if an adult accompanies the child to the gate. Some airports and airlines allow accompanying adults to accompany the child beyond the check-in counter and up to boarding with special permission.

Reception at destination

Make sure that a trustworthy person receives the child at the destination. The airline will need the contact details of this person and will usually carry out an identity check before the child is handed over.

Air travel abroad

The regulations for children travelling alone vary depending on the airline, destination country and age of the child. When children are travelling alone, especially on long-haul flights with several airlines involved and stopovers, the regulations and care services for unaccompanied minors (UM services) must be booked and taken into account separately for each part of the journey.

The service usually ends at the stopover, meaning that a new UM service has to be booked for the onward flight. Direct flights are often easier to handle in such cases.

You might also be interested in this! What to consider when travelling in groups?

How can Flightright help you?

Minor children travelling alone have the same rights as adult passengers. According to the EU Passenger Rights Regulation, they are entitled to compensation from the airline in the event of such incidents.

According to the UK261 Legislation, passengers are entitled to compensation in the event of a delay, cancellation, overbooking, or missed connection. They can receive up to £520 compensation per person (minus the success commission). This compensation is independent of the ticket price. Flightright enforces your right for you. If necessary also in court.

Tip: Flightright helps you to enforce your passenger rights! With us, you can check your claims free of charge in two minutes. ✔️Easy, ✔️fast ✔️& without risk

As the market-leading consumer portal, Flightright fights for the enforcement of air passenger rights. We stand up for your rights in the event of a flight delay, cancellation or denied boarding and refer to the UK261 Regulation. Flightright’s air passenger rights experts are also happy to help you with ticket refunds and refunds for cancelled package holidays.

As experts in the field of air passenger rights, we enforce your right to compensation against the airline!

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