Minors on airplanes without parents: minimum age and differences between companies
If flying alone can be difficult as an adult, let alone as a child: for this reason, and to avoid any danger the child may encounter during air travel, each airline adopts the policy it deems most appropriate. But at what age can minors travel alone?
Can minors travel by air alone?
In the meantime, let’s start by saying that yes, minors can fly alone, and all the airlines contemplating this hypothesis provide travelers with an accompanying service that protects the child and never leaves him or her alone for the entire duration of the journey, from airport to airport: it is called Accompanying Service, and since there is no legislation that regulates the boarding procedures, it is regulated differently by each airline. Certainly children aged 5 to 12 or 16 years will be accepted on board and protected even when travelling alone, with an additional cost due to the choice of the service (when booking the flight) varies from company to company.
Minors in flight alone: procedure
At the airport, the designated escort takes care of the minor at check-in: at this point, the minor must wear a bib with the initials UM (Unaccompanied Minor) for as long as he remains at the airport, constantly manned by the escort (obviously, it is always preferable for the family to prepare the minor with particular attention to the adoption of a prudent behavior).
Once boarded, the child is handed over to the airline’s on-board staff.
Now let’s see what are the regulations of the main companies that fly in Italy.
Minimum age to travel by air alone Alitalia
The Italian law provides for the need for a document for children under 14 years of age, or a «declaration of accompaniment» that must be issued by the competent police headquarters.
It should be noted that unfortunately the service provided by Alitalia is not easy to use: there is a «Service for unaccompanied minors» for under 14 for domestic routes and under 15 for international routes without an adult companion.
With regard to the selection of the service, rather than acting online, where the company’s website does not facilitate this procedure, it is preferable to contact the «Special Assistance» or the travel agency, to which you must communicate the details and telephone number of the person who will accompany the child to the airport of departure and the one who will pick him up at the airport of destination. It should be borne in mind that in the case of flights with a stopover, you can not book the last flight of the day, unless this is the only daily flight. It is also advisable to ensure that the escort of the child stays at the airport until the departure of the flight.
Minimum age for travelling by air alone Ryanair
Can minors flying alone with Ryanair? Let’s start by saying that Ryanair does not embark children under the age of 16 if unaccompanied, and the rules are quite restrictive even if there is only one parent in the European Economic Area (EEA).
However, under 15 Italians in possession of the new electronic identity card and accompanied by one or both parents can travel on flights in the EU/Schengen area without further documentation, while outside the EU/Schengen area is required the birth certificate. If in possession of the new identity card, but not accompanied by any parent, minors must also have a «custody» signed by the parent not traveling. From 16 years of age and upwards, the child is considered to be an adult.
Minimum age for travelling by air alone Easyjet
The English company «Orange» has a rich regulation and a high attention to families traveling with young children, the so-called «family care»: provides on board games and «puzzles» for entertainment, allows you to breastfeed, and also priority boarding for parents with children under five years, as well as facilities for boarding pushchairs.
As far as minors not accompanied by their parents are concerned, Easyjet allows boarding to minors of 13 years of age or younger only if accompanied by an adult of 16 years of age or older (considered the latter as adults) who takes full responsibility for them.
Minimum age for travelling with Lufthansa
For Lufthansa, children between the ages of 5 and 11 can fly unaccompanied if they use the assistance service provided by the airline or if they travel with a person of at least 12 years of age.
Italian minors are not covered by the regulation, because of the law in force here, so for travel to national airports, they must be aged 15 years or older.
The German airline spends a lot of attention on the case of unaccompanied minors in flight, and is proud to do so with great efficiency: it has calculated that every year about 70,000 minors travel alone, taken care of and protected by the Lufthansa Assistance Service before take-off, during the flight phases and on arrival. Upon landing, the child is assigned to an additional Lufthansa employee who accompanies him/her to the person designated to collect him/her at the airport.
Minimum age for flying with Air France
The French airline, like Lufthansa, pays a lot of attention to this case and to minors in the air, even offering a service package for unaccompanied minors called «Kids only»: this is a service for minors that is mandatory for children between 4 and 11 years, optional for those aged between 12 and 17 years. For the little ones, Air France also offers games, cartoons, films, tutorials of magic games and even programs to relax during the flight. And that’s not all: for flights longer than 2.5 hours, there are also dedicated organic meals available.