Your Child Can Fly Alone: This Is How

Rules for unaccompanied minors have been in place for years

V. Kumara Swamy Updated: May 27, 2020 16:41:25 IST
Your Child Can Fly Alone: This Is How 5-year-old Vihaan Sharma at the Bengaluru airport. He had flown from Delhi alone to reunite with his parents. (Photo: Twitter)

The news of a five-year-old child flying alone from Delhi to Bengaluru recently went viral on social media.But what are the rules for children flying alone? What age do they have to be, in order to be categorized as an 'unaccompanied minor'? Find the answers to many such questions right here:

  • India's airline operators such as Air India, Indigo, SpiceJet, Vistara and others offer dedicated service to minors travelling alone for an extra fee.
  • While Air India calls it the ‘unaccompanied minor’ service, Indigo's service is named 'Flying Solo' and Vistara's programme is called 'Vistara YoungStar'.
  • The service is available on domestic and international routes for children between the ages of five and 12 for a minimum fee of ₹2,500 or more depending on the airline. Vistara charges $60 for international flights.
  • For international travel, roughly the same rules apply except when it comes to long stopovers for changing flights. Some airlines don't accept minor travellers if the stopover at the transfer station lasts more than six hours.
  • Parents or guardians are required to submit a separate form to avail this service by giving the reason for sending the child alone and other details. While some airlines want the minor to be registered days in advance, others offer on-the-spot registration facilities too.
  • The forms generally require details of the parent or guardian and also of the person who will meet the ‘unaccompanied minor’ at the point of arrival. Valid photo IDs of the minor and parents or guardians will need to be furnished.
  • An unaccompanied minor cannot ask for a web check-in. It has to be done at the check-in counter for the boarding passes.
  • Once the child enters the airport with the valid documents, the airline ground-staff will help with all processes until the aircraft boarding. Thereafter, the child will be under the care of the cabin crew.
  • As a precautionary measure, almost all the airlines make it mandatory for the parents or guardians to stay at the airport until the aircraft takes off.
  • The cabin crew assures that they will meet the needs of the child once they are on board. Some like the Indigo, under its 'Flying Solo' programme, also offer snacks to the minors.
  • Some airlines advise the parents or guardians to pack medication, warm clothing and even the child's favourite toy or game in the hand baggage.
  • Once the flight arrives at the destination, the ground staff is given the responsibility to assist the child and see to it that they are handed over to the authorized parent or guardian at the exit gate.
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