Family Travel Question:
Q | How young can a child fly unaccompanied by an adult?
What's the youngest age that a child can fly without an adult going with them?
A | Unaccompanied minors need to be five to fly
Unaccompanied minors have been traveling to visit grandparents or distant divorced parents for decades now, and with airfare being what it is (expensive, usually), it often feels like the only affordable choice. Parents often have questions and anxiety about letting their children fly solo. This question, though, pertains to having a toddler be an unaccompanied minor. In almost all cases in the US, children must be at least 5 years old to be unaccompanied minors on planes. Southwest Airlines is no different; children ages 5 through 11 are considered unaccompanied minors with certain terms applied, such as an extra charge each way (currently 50 dollars, meaning an extra 100 dollars roundtrip). You can read more about Southwest’s unaccompanied minors terms and conditions here.
So, where does that leave the parent who wants or needs a toddler to fly alone? Well, in a bind. Even if you have a spectacularly mature two- or three-year-old, you’re going to have to wait a few years to let him or her be an unaccompanied minor. In the meantime, I’d ask if there is some other way you can get your tot to his or her destination. A toddler is too old to be a lap child, in most cases (although the lap child policy has its own issues). If purchasing an additional ticket for an adult is completely out of the question, perhaps the trip will have to wait. I wouldn’t recommend a toddler travel anywhere without an adult.
Photo courtesy of Wikicommons