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Can Underage Children Fly Out of the Country Unsupervised?

by Candice Coleman

Though you may want to pick up and accompany your child for a trip out of the country, situations may arise that require your little one to fly alone. Each airline has different policies regarding which children can fly without supervision, as well as which children will require attendants when they take to the skies.

Younger Than 5

Children younger than age 5 usually cannot fly alone domestically or outside of the country. As of 2013, Delta requires that children younger than 5 must travel with an adult who is at least 18 years old. When flying on US Airways, children younger than 5 must travel with a parent or legal guardian, as of 2013. American Airlines requires that those accompanying children younger than 5 on flights must be at least 16 years old, while Southwest Airlines requires children younger than 5 to be in the company of someone who is at least 12, as of 2013.

Ages 5 to 14

As of 2013, children who are between 5 and 14 must use the unaccompanied minor services that Delta and US Airways offer, if kids this age fly unaccompanied. Airline employees will assist your child during boarding and deplaning. If your child is 12 and wishes to fly without assistance, he can do so by traveling with American and Southwest Airlines. Airlines may charge an additional fee for unaccompanied minor services.

Older Than 14

Teens who are age 14 or older usually do not need supervision to fly out of the country. Some airlines may automatically provide unaccompanied minor services to teens younger than 18, according to Delta Airlines. When you make your reservations with an agent, you can request that your teenager not receive these services. If your teen is 14 or older and needs additional assistance when flying, ask the airline about any available services.

Additional Considerations

Policies can change over time, so parents may want to call each airline before booking tickets. Mentioning your child's age when making reservations and asking about any restrictions or additional fees may prevent confusion and complications when it is time to depart. Ensure that your child has a valid passport before traveling outside the U.S.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

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