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THIS ARTICLE IS INTENDED AS GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY. WE STRONGLY ADVISE THAT YOU CONTACT YOUR TRAVEL AGENCY OR SPECIFIC AIRLINE(S) THAT THE UNACCOMPANIED MINOR WILL TRAVEL WITH FOR CLARIFICATION ON THEIR TERMS AND CONDITIONS, AND SPECIFIC ADVICE ON TRAVELLING. DIFFERENT AIRLINES HAVE DIFFERENT RULES AND THE RULES FREQUENTLY CHANGE.
An unaccompanied minor (sometimes "unaccompanied child" or "separated child") is a child travelling without the presence of a legal guardian.
In airline policy, an unaccompanied minor is typically an airline passenger aged between 5 and 14 years old (airline regulations vary) who travels without an accompanying adult. Minors whose accompanying adult travels on the same flight but in a different class may also be classified as unaccompanied minors. A parent or guardian who requests for this service fills out a release form, identifying another guardian who will pick up the minor at the destination airport, Both the guardians dropping and picking the child must carry a Govt. Issued Photo ID. Airline personnel are responsible for escorting the child through immigration and customs and boarding the flight in time and they will hand over the child at the destination airport after checking the ID proof of that person and matching the name from the release form filled by a guardian at the origin airport. A fee may be payable for this service which varies from airlines to airlines.
CAN AN UNACCOMPANIED MINOR TRAVEL ALONE ON AN AIRPLANE?
It depends on the specific airline rules. Some airlines do not allow minors to travel without an adult; other airlines allow them to travel only if they purchase the airlines Unaccompanied Minor Service (UMNR Service), other airlines allow unrestricted travel between certain ages.
UNACCOMPANIED MINOR SERVICE (UMNR Service)
Unaccompanied Minor Service is the special service which airlines provide for unaccompanied minors. This service is commonly abbreviated to ‘UMNR Service’. The quality of the service may vary depending on the airline, and the staff delivering the service.
Booking UMNR: The person who requests the unaccompanied minor service (typically the parent or guardian) will need to complete and sign a UMNR Service booking form, naming the responsible adult who will deliver the child to the airline staff on departure and also naming the adult who will collect the child at their arrival destination. It is essential that this information is accurate and the adults have an official ID to show the airline staff. The airline staff may refuse to allow the child on the flight or release the child into the care of the adult on arrival at their destination if they do not have an acceptable ID.
Departure: Airline staff will collect the UM from the check-in desk, escort the minor through immigration and customs, take them to the gate, and ensure they board the flight.
Transit Connections: If the flight includes a connection, airline staff will escort the minor throughout the connection period. The airline staff will collect the minor from their flight, stay with them throughout the stop-over, take them to the gate of the connecting flight and ensure that the minor boards the plane. If a minor miss a connection, the escort will assist with ensuring they catch an alternative connection.
Arrival: When the minor reaches their destination airport, the responsible adult named in the UMNR booking form will need to show formal identification before the airline staff release the minor into their care. The person who collects the minor must have an ID to prove who they are, and this must be the same as the named person on the original UMNR booking form. A different person cannot represent the named person, even if they have the original person’s ID with them as proof of representation
Is UMNR Service Compulsory?
It depends on the airline’s rules. Most airlines have specific rules about unaccompanied minors. UMNR Service is compulsory for certain ages but the compulsory age is different for different airlines. Some airlines will allow unaccompanied minors to travel if they pay an additional fee for UMNR Service. Other airlines will not allow an unaccompanied minor to travel at all. For airlines that provide UMNR Service, the service can be requested even if it is not compulsory.
How Much Does UMNR Service Cost?
Each airline has a different UMNR Fee but typically this costs between $50 to $150 plus taxes each way.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN TRAVELLING AS A UM
Some minors may require extra documentation when travelling as an unaccompanied minor. For example, passengers with Russian nationality are sometimes required to have a notarized statement in Russian from both parents confirming that they consent to the child leaving the country unaccompanied. Check with your airline if this is necessary when you book your plane ticket and make your UMNR Service booking.
If the plane is rerouted to a different airport on arrival because of bad weather conditions, the airline staff may insist that the original escort must collect the child at the original airport even if they are able and willing to travel to the rerouted airport. For example, if a student is flying to London Heathrow Airport but bad weather means they are redirected to Manchester Airport, it is the airline’s responsibility to ensure that the student has alternative transport to travel to Heathrow airport (usually a coach service). The airline staff could refuse to allow the child to leave their care and be released to their designated adult at the rerouted airport. It is therefore advisable to check with the airline if this is possible before the escort travels to the rerouted airport.
UMNR Service does not only affect the flight. It affects the costs of airport transport when the child is taken to and from the airport before and after the flight. The adult taking the child to the airport must enter the airport and officially hand over the child the airline staff. They must also wait at the airport to ensure the child has departed safely. The person collecting the child at the arrival destination must also enter the airport and show their ID. For this reason, purchasing a UMNR service from the airline also results in increased taxi costs to cover the cost of car parking fees and waiting time.
The ‘UMNR’ term is also often used when booking airport transfers for minors because flying as a UMNR affects the service that the transfer company must provide in order to meet the airline’s requirements when picking-up / dropping-off the minor at the airport.