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Unaccompanied minor on international flights - anyone know the rules? ex-H wants DD age 7 to travel around the world to visit him

(40 Posts)
buzzybee Wed 23-Sep-09 11:00:06

My ex-H has announced that he's moving to the other side of the world and wants DD1 (now aged 7) to visit him for 5 weeks every year. He thinks she can travel unaccompanied even though it will involve at least one stop-over transit point and a total of about 26 hours in the air.
Anyway, completely setting aside my emotional reaction to this proposal for the moment (!!!) can anyone tell me which airlines would even allow this? I have a feeling I read that she could not transit via the USA? I'm really hoping I can tell him this simply isn't possible!

bamboobutton Wed 23-Sep-09 11:02:40

my 6yo nephew flew from the USA and stayed for 6 weeks recently. he had an airline chaperone on the flight, think it was an american airline but im not 100% sure.

silverfrog Wed 23-Sep-09 11:04:36

Most major airlines will have an unaccompanied minors policy. It is usually set out on their websites.

from experience, what happens is that you sign the minor over at check-in to a named member of staff, who takes them through security etc and into the lounge.

at boarding they are handed over to a named person onboard, who is allocated them or the duration of the flgiht (but may well be looking after a number of unaccompanied minors, who are all usually sat together)

I can't help on the transit front, but I assume it is handled in a similar manner.

On arrival, the minor is escorted through baggage collection etc, and handed over to the person named as pick-up, who needs to identify themselves etc.

I don't know about transit via USA either, not sure why this would not be possible?

LadyGlencoraPalliser Wed 23-Sep-09 11:07:50

Some airlines do operate a chaperonage service, and for Australia or NZ she could probably transit through Singapore or HK.
But tbh while I would consider letting an under-10 go on a non-stop flight in those circs I wouldn't contemplate for an instant letting them do the journey you describe.
Whether the airlines would allow it or not is a complete red herring IMO. It is not up to the airline to decide if it is appropriate for your child - that's your job.
And your ex-H sounds like a twonk, if he thinks this would be OK.

CMOTdibbler Wed 23-Sep-09 11:13:15

Many airlines don't allow UMs to go on indirect flights - depends on age. And they may be able to connect to another flight for the same airline in the US, but not if it is different.

You'd have to check the policy for the exact airlines she would have to travel on.

I do think that such a long flight would be an awful lot to ask of a small child - I see quite a lot of UMs on my travels, and the little ones can really struggle with really long haul.

My friend who is divorced from her husband and moved back to Canada to family, leaving him in Germany has come to an agreement with his mum that she pays for a flight for grandma to fly to Canada, spend a week there, take daughter back, she spends 5 weeks there, and then brings her back. This works well and gives daughter consistency too. Any chance of working anything like that out ?

nappyaddict Wed 23-Sep-09 11:45:08

I would be fine with it if it was a direct flight, but don't think I would be happy if it has a stop over and I'm not sure they would allow it tbh. Best bet is to ring a few airlines and see what they have to say.

titchy Wed 23-Sep-09 12:12:57

Unaccompanied at 7 - not a chance! Can you imagine how frightening, not to say boring, that would be for a small child. Even with a chaperone she wouldn't know from Adam who would also have other airline-steward-type jobs to do.

He comes over once a year and stays here to see her. MAYBE you accompany her over once a year. At his expense.

His decision to move. His problem to sort out.

carikube8 Wed 23-Sep-09 12:18:17

Could he meet her half way so that there is no problem with transit? That way she would have someone she knows for at least part of the journey...

oranges Wed 23-Sep-09 12:24:01

I flew long haul unaccompanied at 7 - direct flight though. I do remember it was fine - stewards and other passengers were very kind, and to this day I love flying alone.

stepaway Wed 23-Sep-09 12:29:12

each airline has its own policy. the best is definitely BA as they have the lowest age ( 5, I think) and they are very used to taking care of UMs. boarding school runs and all that.

charlotteolivia Wed 23-Sep-09 12:41:46
it says that children from 5 can travel on direct flights, from 6 they can travel on any flight with BA (must be registered with SkyFlyer solo service though)

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 23-Sep-09 14:52:53

Stupid ex H. He should realise that your DD is not a parcel to be sent halfway around the world!. Long haul for a 7/8 year old unaccompanied can be very hard going.

He should come to the UK instead to visit her rather than the other way around.

The US immigration people would not be very pleased at all to see your DD arrive at US immigration as an unaccompanied minor either.

nappyaddict Wed 23-Sep-09 15:46:38

How long is the stop over? I seem to remember if the stop over is longer than 6 hours then they cannot travel unaccompanied.

florence2511 Wed 23-Sep-09 16:02:14

Unaccompanied at 7 - not a chance! Can you imagine how frightening, not to say boring, that would be for a small child. Even with a chaperone she wouldn't know from Adam who would also have other airline-steward-type jobs to do.

Titchy - Are you saying this from experience? If you are then fine, but if you aren't then you can't even begin to comment!

My step Sister's Father moved to LA when she was 5 and from that point on she travelled as an unaccompanied minor every year. Never once was she frightened (or I guess she would have refused to do it again) or indeed bored (I travelled with her once and there were so many films to watch and activity packs to play with). But to be honest who isn't a little bit bored on a long haul flight - you just have to put up with it. Sleep is always the best cure grin.

She was taking from her Mother at check-in and put on the plane, where her care was transferred to someone on board. Then in LA she was taken off the plane right to her Dad who was waiting for her in arrivals. It was both simple and painless.

The US immigration people would not be very pleased at all to see your DD arrive at US immigration as an unaccompanied minor either.

Really Atilla? And where did you get that one from?? Not true at all. The Airlines wouldn't be allowed to transport unaccompanied minors to the USA is that was the case and they are.

I wouldn't have a problem with my DD travelling unaccompanied at the age of 7, but the only slightly worrying thing is the stop over. This I may not allow, but it would depend on what measures were taken by the airline in this case and whether I thought my DD would be OK and whether she, herself, was ok with it.

I know that Air Zealand are ok with unaccompanied minors as I flew with them as one. This was to LA by the way, but as I recall, the plane was going on to New Zealand after LA, so they may be ok with the longer trip too if you see what I mean!!

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 23-Sep-09 16:27:37

The onward flight connection is the main problem here and sticking point.

I still maintain that US immigration still won't be too thrilled to see such a young person.

This kid is not a parcel to be shoved onto two flights just because her father has moved to the other side of the world.

florence2511 Wed 23-Sep-09 18:40:10


This is what American Airlines say. You know, the largest AMERICAN Airline, who, ummmm, fly to , ummmm, America:

Children, 8 through 14 years of age, will be accepted for transportation on nonstop, through or connecting flights. Reservations must be confirmed to the destination. The child must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult until the child has boarded the flight and the aircraft has departed the gate. The child must be met at the destination by another parent or responsible adult. A service charge will be assessed for unaccompanied children on all flights.

Please note that we do no longer accept children travelling alone on flights connecting from/or to other airlines.

KerryMumbles Wed 23-Sep-09 18:42:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

florence2511 Wed 23-Sep-09 18:44:13

Oh dear Kerry darling. Feeling a little unwell today?

KerryMumbles Wed 23-Sep-09 18:49:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

florence2511 Wed 23-Sep-09 18:53:54

You could, perhaps, put it a little more eloquently.

Ivykaty44 Wed 23-Sep-09 18:57:35

Untill the flight ticket arrives on the mat having been sent from the other side of the world - there is no point even worrying.

Once he looks into buying the ticket and paying the surcharge and trying to get it all sorted without any changes and it is a direct non stop flight etc etc - don't even think about it.

often these things just float away on thier own, bite your lip and say not a word wink

thighsmadeofcheddar Wed 23-Sep-09 19:01:27

Singapore Airlines do this service quite well. I booked the 9 year old son of my old boss through to Asia a couple of times and it worked very smoothly with them - but they seem to do all service stuff really well.

Not sure of the transit protocol though.

SoupDragon Wed 23-Sep-09 19:02:24

I think KM's response conveys the correct sentiment exactly

florence2511 Wed 23-Sep-09 19:02:40

Buzzybee - I have a lot of time on my hands today, so I have found out some info for you about unaccompanied minors on airlines. It is good, solid, true and useful material. So armed with this you should be able to decide what to do:

http://www.aa .com/aa/ ravel/childinfo/public/en_gb ing-with-children.htm#childrentravellingalone

The only problem you will have if your child needs to go through the US is that the connecting flight has to be with the same airline.

Hope this helps.

Before you make a decision, think of the experience your DD could have by staying in another country for 5 weeks of the year. Not many get to experience that. A lifetime opportunity.

florence2511 Wed 23-Sep-09 19:03:55

I just picked a few airlines, but this info is available on all airline websites.

A lot of unaccompanied minors travel so the airlines are well used to all of this.

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