Thanks to Marc S. (Mexico) for much of this information. We’ve added links to airlines to make it easier to access the information.
Every airline has their own rules about transporting unaccompanied children. There are different restrictions depending on the child’s age. Up to age 15 or 16, most airlines have an “unaccompanied minor” service which charges a fee and helps the child from Point A to Point B, and delivering a child to a designated adult upon arrival. The rate varies widely from $50 USD each way to $150 USD each way. Between the ages of 12 to 15 (depending on the airline), a child can travel alone with certain restrictions. Check on the following when trying to send a “minor” child on a plane:
- Unaccompanied minors policy
- Starting age
(See airline links below.)
If any leg of the travel is on a codeshare flight, the rules of the “other” airline might override the rules of the airline issuing the ticket. [In Marc’s case, their 14-year-old son was booked on Aeromexico (which did allow 14 year olds to travel alone at that time). However, the first leg would have been on a Delta plane, and they refused to accept him, because their policy uses age 15 for travel alone. While Delta does have a program for unaccompanied minors, they do not pass them on to other airlines.]
Airlines who allow children to travel by themselves:
- At age 12: Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Luftansa, Qantas, Singapore Air, Southwest, Swiss Air, Korean Air, and Volaris
- At age 14: British Airways and AirAlaska
- At age 15: Aeromexico, Delta, USAirways, United, and American
Their rules may change, so check the links below to make sure.
Airline Links to pages on unaccompanied minors:
- AirFrance (has a different link for each country)
- Air New Zealand
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific: (for US English version – found at very bottom of page by clicking “Special Assistance.”)
- EVA Airlines (Taiwan): the website is in various languages, but on the US page, the information was under “Flight Information” > “Special Assistance”
- Korean Air
- Singapore Airlines: (UK version)
Mexico: As for leaving Mexico unaccompanied, you can have a notarized authorization, which will probably cost more than USD 100. You can also get a document from INM, which authorizes the child to travel alone. You can download the form here (http://www.inm.gob.mx/index.php/page/autorizacion_menores) and should go and have it signed and stamped at the migracion office a few days before traveling. (They did that for us at the airport, but rather grumpily. 🙂 ) ~ Marc S.