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What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Thu May 25, 2017 6:36 am

Hello everyone

I have a question for my daughter, but please let me explain first.

Years ago my wife (now ex wife) and me split up and several years ago she moved to America while my daughter (also her daughter) stays with me. Of course she has rights to see her mother so ever since my ex wife moved to America every holiday I took my daughter to her. I always accompanied her on the flight, but that is getting expensive and she doesn't need it anymore either. She has flown so often she can manage on her own. Checking in, passing security, finding the gate, finding her seat, passing through immigration, it's got no secrets to her anymore. Even making a transfer would not be a problem since we've done so quite a few times.

Since my daughter is now 12 years old I thought I'd give it a try and let her fly alone. Problem is that every airline handles a different age at which they accept unaccompanied minors and I don't feel like checking them all. Besides, it has to be a bit affordable. What airline should I book her on?

Thank you for your advice.
 
RoySFlying
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Thu May 25, 2017 9:03 am

It will be difficult for anyone to offer suggestions at the moment for lack of important information.
From which country will the child be leaving?
Is there more than one airport in the country of origin serving the US? If so, which is your preferred choice?
To which city will she be travelling?
Are connections needed or are non-stops available?
 
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Thu May 25, 2017 10:06 am

Hello

Thank you for your response

I live in the Netherlands and Amsterdam is the closest airport for me, but not a must. I can drive to Brussels or Dusseldorf if that needs to be. My ex wife lives in the San Francisco bay area. There are direct flights from Amsterdam to San Francisco on KLM but KLM is mostly expensive and I don't know about their policy regarding unaccompanied minors. Actually San Jose or Oakland are closer to her home. Last time we went there we flew Lufthansa to San Jose through Frankfurt. But also here, what is the Lufthansa policy for unaccompanied minors? And Lufthansa is not always the cheapest either.

My daughter can speak quite good English by the way, so language shouldn't be a problem.

Thank you for your advice.
 
LGAviation
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Thu May 25, 2017 10:39 am

The country of departure would be a major factor. Keep in mind that it is not merely the airline requiring documentation but depending on your state of origin, also departure immigration. Sometimes such travel authorisation needs to be in written or notarised form, it's always a pain. That being said, my preferred strategy has always been booking an adult fare and nobody said a thing.
When I was 14, I travelled FRA-WDH-CPT-WVB-WDH-FRA on my own and only ran into questions upon re-entering Germany. That trip would certainly no longer be possible with South Africa's new rigid regime and I have also seen 17 year olds denied exit to the UK for lack of written authorisation. My sister recently travelled MIA-VIE-FRA on her own aged 16 on a German passport with no problems whatsoever.
2018: ADD CPH DAR DEN DME DUB FRA HAH HAM IST JIB KEF LYR MEL OSL PEK PKC PVG RAK STN SVO SYD YVR
 
vv701
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Thu May 25, 2017 10:46 am

BA categorizes passengers into four groups:

'infants' are aged 0 to 23 months
'children' are aged 2 to 11 years
'young adults' are aged 12 to 15 years
'adults' are aged 16+ yers

'young adults' may travel alone

'children' must be accompanied by an 'adult'
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Thu May 25, 2017 11:14 am

Here's KLMs policy about it (in Dutch):

https://www.klm.com/travel/nl_nl/prepar ... framed.htm

In short it comes down to the fact that on KLM it's obligued to use their unaccompanied minor service for children aged 5 to 14 years old, so that would include your daughter. For the use of this service you pay an additional fee of 80 euros on a direct flight or 100 euros for a transfer flight. They make sure your daughter is in good hands.

However, not every airline handles the same age restrictions. Here's Transavia's policy for example (also in Dutch):

https://service.transavia.com/app/answe ... /leeftijd/

Turns out Transavia does allow 12 year olds to travel alone without using the unaccompanied minor service. They let them travel as adults. The service is optional up to 15 years, but you don't have to use it if you don't want to. However, Transavia doesn't fly to America. It was just an example.

Here's another example, Norwegian:

https://www.norwegian.com/en/travel-inf ... ing-alone/

Basically they got the same policy as Transavia, only their unaccompanied minor service is not available on several flights including flights to America. They would however let her travel as an adult since at the age of 12 use of the unaccompanied minor service is not obligued.

If you're good with letting her travel as an adult without using the unaccompanied minor service and you're looking for a low fare then I'd say Norwegian is an airline worth looking into. They even fly to Oakland which you mentioned as one of your airports of choice. It would however require a connection since Norwegian does not fly there directly from Amsterdam. Only from London Gatwick, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Barcelona. Out of Amsterdam Norwegian does have flights to Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen.
 
Planesmart
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Thu May 25, 2017 11:54 am

Sending a 12 year old child unaccompanied on an international flight of that duration is fine until something goes wrong. What happens if the plane has to divert? What if she has a medical emergency? Your ex-wife needs to contribute to the cost of you accompanying your daughter. But well done dad, for being so proactive ensuring your daughter sees her mother.
 
rbavfan
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Thu May 25, 2017 12:05 pm

Agree with last poster. Norwegian would be much cheaper.
Easyjet 8870 AMS-LGW departs 8:55am & Arrives 9:10am.
Norwegian 7073 LGW-OAK departs 1:00pm & arrives 4:00pm.

Norwegian 7074 OAK-LGW departs 6:35pm & arrives 12:40PM the next day.
Easyjet 8877 LGW-AMS departs 2:20pm & arrives at AMS 4:45pm
-There is a 1:00pm departure as well but that could be really tight with customs at LGW.

These look like your best & cheapest route. Just need to find out what easyjets age limits, rules are. But then again at thier price you could hop over to LGW with her and to pick her up for a day outof town for both of you.
 
rbavfan
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Thu May 25, 2017 12:09 pm

Planesmart wrote:
Sending a 12 year old child unaccompanied on an international flight of that duration is fine until something goes wrong. What happens if the plane has to divert? What if she has a medical emergency? Your ex-wife needs to contribute to the cost of you accompanying your daughter. But well done dad, for being so proactive ensuring your daughter sees her mother.


I used to travel alone as a child. Know many that have an we are not all unaware of whats going on. Depends on how you grow up & are raised. If she has done the trip many times there should not be a problem. They can have any needed information I case of emergency on her person. Would really not be any different than if they did the minor travel service, after all in an emergency mom or dad would not be with her either.
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Thu May 25, 2017 12:22 pm

Here are some more airline policies.

Air Berlin (direct Dusseldorf and Berlin to San Francisco):

https://www.airberlin.com/nl/site/landi ... .php?cat=3

Lufthansa (Frankfurt to San Jose and Frankfurt and Munich to San Francisco):

https://www.airberlin.com/nl/site/landi ... .php?cat=3

Both of them got the same policy as most airlines do. Up to 11 years old use of the unaccompanied minor service is mandatory, 12 and up it's optional.

However, Planesmart has got a point. As long as everything goes right there doesn't have to be a problem. But can your daughter manage in case something irregular happens like a divertion? Lately I came across a threat (can't find it anymore) about a 16 or 17 year old guy who's connecting flight had been rescheduled and had to spend the night at the airport. Passengers had rights to stay at a hotel at the expenses of the airline, but since he was underage he couldn't check into a hotel by himself.
 
LupineChemist
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Thu May 25, 2017 1:17 pm

rbavfan wrote:
Planesmart wrote:
Sending a 12 year old child unaccompanied on an international flight of that duration is fine until something goes wrong. What happens if the plane has to divert? What if she has a medical emergency? Your ex-wife needs to contribute to the cost of you accompanying your daughter. But well done dad, for being so proactive ensuring your daughter sees her mother.


I used to travel alone as a child. Know many that have an we are not all unaware of whats going on. Depends on how you grow up & are raised. If she has done the trip many times there should not be a problem. They can have any needed information I case of emergency on her person. Would really not be any different than if they did the minor travel service, after all in an emergency mom or dad would not be with her either.


Yeah, I traveled as a UM nearly weekly from when I was five until I was eight. By the time I was 10 I loved going to the airport alone on the train and just watching the planes (pre 9/11, of course) on a free weekend day. Surely my parents were happy to be rid of me and that I was in a safe spot, too.

But I would still have to fly UM and it got to the point where I was a 12 year old just casually chatting with the agents and attendants about the more technical aspects of their jobs and they thought it was equally ridiculous.

While I understand the need for a blanket policy, it definitely influenced flying by the time to airlines that would let me go alone with no problem.

I'm assuming the kid in question here is more than used to airports and international borders so it shouldn't be an issue at all.
 
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Thu May 25, 2017 1:47 pm

Hello everyone

Thank you for your response. You gave me some useful advice.

These unaccompanied minor programs sound really childish with coloring plates and stuff like that. My daughter is well past that stage. Medical issues are very unlikely, she is very fit and healthy. Of course a divert can be a problem but how big is that chance anyway? Besides, she can stand up for herself. Even I sometimes got issues controlling her. :) So I think it is best to not use any unaccompanied minor program. That makes KLM is not an option.

This Norwegian airline comes out really cheap, but are they reliable? I have no experience with them. How come they are so cheap, what's the catch? It sounds almost too good to be true. I'm sure my daughter can make a connection in Copenhagen or wherever if that needs to be.

Thank you for your advice
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Thu May 25, 2017 2:29 pm

I'd call Norwegian a rather reliable airline, they're mostly on time. Delays are no better or worse than any other airline.

What makes them so cheap is that they're a low-cost airline. This means lots of things that are included at other airlines are not included with them. For example, they charge extra for checked luggage or a meal on board. If you need to include these services, prepare for additional costs. Of course it's also an option to travel with hand luggage only and bring your own food on board. Another thing about Norwegian is that they're known for using cheap cabin crews from eastern Asia instead of expensive ones from Europe or America, so the flight attendants may be of Asian origin.

Last thing I should mention is that Norwegian charges for transfers. This means the fare for a transfer flight is the price of the two individual flights plus a transfer fee. Of course this can be avoided by booking the two flights seperate, but then the transfer becomes your own responsibility. Also you have to go out, collect your luggage and check back in at the transfer airport. This is called a self-transfer. If you decide to pay the transfer fee they check your luggage through and you can stay airside at your transfer airport.
 
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Eindhoven
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Thu May 25, 2017 7:06 pm

DY is a good airline for the price they offer, but little connectivity to their network from the Netherlands. Few flights from AMS, none to LGW. But HV also flies to ARN and CPH from EIN. I flew HV/DY EIN-CPH-BKK myself, good match only you need to change terminals at CPH.
 
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thewizbizman
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Fri May 26, 2017 5:20 pm

Delta Airlines is good for domestic flights, and they have good rates.
They care for unoccupied minors. Some of there planes even have a special class of seating for them.
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Sat May 27, 2017 7:40 am

Hello

Thank you for your response. I now understand this airline.

Such a self transfer as you call it sounds too complicated for my daughter so I will just pay the transfer fee. What bothers me is that Norwegian does not offer connections from Amsterdam to Oakland. Getting back to Amsterdam is no problem with them. I think I will accompany her to Copenhagen or wherever and then let her fly off to Oakland on her own. If it would have been an arranged transfer I would have no problem with it.

The flight back from Oakland to Amsterdam transfers in Copenhagen. Just to make sure, how easy is it to make a transfer in Copenhagen? I think it will be no problem but I want to be sure. And what airport do you recommend for a self transfer on the way from Amsterdam to Oakland? What airline should we fly from Amterdam to that airport to make it on time? And not unimportant, for me to make it back to Amsterdam after I dropped her off?

I have not yet decided about luggage and meals. I think hand luggage alone will be fine because my ex wife has everything my daughter needs there such as clothing and stuff. But if it is affordable I might allow her a suitcase. How much do they charge for a meal? And how easy is it to bring own food on board?

Delta Airlines is not an option because they have the same age restrictions as KLM.

Are you absolutely sure Norwegian will let my 12 year old daughter travel alone as an adult? Will there be no problems that they deny her because she is too young? Better safe than sorry.

Thank you for your advice.
 
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alexinvasion
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Sat May 27, 2017 9:53 am

No airlines, allows minors to travel alone. Yes, it might be easy for her to travel since she's been doing it before but without an adult, besides her I am 99.9% sure that she won't be able to make it on the immigration.
"Collect moments, not things."
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PatrickZ80
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Sat May 27, 2017 12:02 pm

alexinvasion wrote:
No airlines, allows minors to travel alone. Yes, it might be easy for her to travel since she's been doing it before but without an adult, besides her I am 99.9% sure that she won't be able to make it on the immigration.


Not true. As far as I could find, most airlines require a minimum age of 12 years to travel alone without using an unaccompanied minor program. Exception to this rule is Air France/KLM/Delta, who require a minimum age of 15 years. Since his daughter is 12 she should be able to fly alone without using an unaccompanied minor program. Of course it's always possible to use an unaccompanied minor program if available.

I also couldn't find any information on why immigration would refuse her. Only useful information about this (coming from the KLM website) is that she should have a filled out CPB form with her to present to the immigration. This form can be found and filled out online, after which you only need to print it and make sure she has it with her along with her passport. It's possible that she'll be questioned, but if she meets all the terms they won't deny her.

One thing however: one of the questions on the form is if she'll bring fruits, vegetables, meats, etc into the country. It doesn't state any quantity. If you give her a lunch package for on the flight, make sure she consumes the whole of it before arrival. Otherwise it could be seen as bringing food into the country.
 
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AAlaxfan
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Sat May 27, 2017 6:35 pm

I've been following this post and have one thing to say: Why in the world would you allow your 12 year old to fly intercontinental without adult supervision?? You may think she is mature enough to handle herself, but I guarantee, there are a$$holes out there looking for girls just like her. Unless you're Liam Neeson and have a special set of skills, pay for the UM program or fly with her. Better yet, have your ex come out and get her. Your daughter may not like it, but if she were mine, I'd feel a whole lot less apprehensive about her taking this trip.
My favorite airport is the one I'm flying to! :airplane:
 
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Sun May 28, 2017 7:49 am

Hello

Thank you for your warning AAlaxfan.

Of course I am well aware of that. But I have to be honest here that money is an issue. Until recently I had a well paid job and I was able to afford that all. But my employer went bankrupt and I lost my job. I was able to find another job but it pays a lot less and I have to watch where my money goes. My ex wife is also not able to help out financially, she earns even less than I do now. I am not proud to admit this but it is the way it is. If I could afford to put her in a program or fly with her I would but I just can't afford that right now.

Of course my daugher is aware of all the dangers she could be exposed to and I always say knowledge is power. She knows what a$$holes as you call it there are out there and she knows not to trust anyone. Besides, this can happen here on the street right next to the house too so what's the difference? I think airports are a relatively safe place with all the security and cameras there and not much will happen on the flight either.

But still I have some unanswered questions from my previous post. Anyone can help me out? I would appreciate that.

Thank you for your response.
 
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Eindhoven
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Tue Jun 06, 2017 5:14 pm

Maybe you should check this.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unaccompanied_minor

It lists a lot of airlines and their minimum ages. I know Wikipedia is not a reliable source but you can always check at the airline.
 
dc9northwest
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Wed Jun 07, 2017 8:38 am

I think Norwegian only accepts debit or credit cards for on-board purchases, and I believe everything (including water) needs to be paid for.

I am pretty sure I didn't have any plastic at 12, so keep that in mind.
 
ei146
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:10 pm

dc9northwest wrote:
I think Norwegian only accepts debit or credit cards for on-board purchases, and I believe everything (including water) needs to be paid for.

I am pretty sure I didn't have any plastic at 12, so keep that in mind.


A "Prepaid Credit Card" can help in this case. Just charge a few bucks on it to cover basic needs. An if it gets lost the damage is limited.
 
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Midwestindy
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Re: What airlines allow 12 year old to travel alone?

Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:12 pm

AAlaxfan wrote:
I've been following this post and have one thing to say: Why in the world would you allow your 12 year old to fly intercontinental without adult supervision?? You may think she is mature enough to handle herself, but I guarantee, there are a$$holes out there looking for girls just like her. Unless you're Liam Neeson and have a special set of skills, pay for the UM program or fly with her. Better yet, have your ex come out and get her. Your daughter may not like it, but if she were mine, I'd feel a whole lot less apprehensive about her taking this trip.


If the father is okay with it, and he sees it fit for a 12 year old to travel alone I don't see anything wrong with it, he knows her better than anyone else. When I was 12 my parents gave me this option where I could travel alone across continents, and it was a great experience for me to gain responsibility, and it was great practice for me when I became too old to use the Unaccompained minor program. My cousins and siblings made these same trips as well, and even when there were issues or delays we were fine. I think as long as you outline what to do if something were to happen she should be fine, most 12 year olds are capable of caring for themselves.
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