Young flyers traveling alone
Providing young flyers with a safe and comfortable journey is very important to us, especially when they’re traveling alone. Whether they're going to summer camp or visiting a family member, you can rest easy knowing they’ll be in great hands with our unaccompanied minor service. This service is required for children ages 5-14 who are traveling alone, but children who are 15-17 years old and traveling alone can also opt in to our unaccompanied minor service. While they’re on board with us, they’ll get perks like:
- A free snack item on flights that offer food for purchase
- Boarding before normal boarding begins so there’s extra time to get settled before takeoff
Our unaccompanied minor service is required for children who are 5-14 years old and traveling without a parent, legal guardian or someone who is at least 18 years old. These young travelers also need to follow certain requirements for their safety:
- Unaccompanied minors can only travel on nonstop United or United Express® flights. They can’t use our unaccompanied minor service on codeshare flights and other flights operated by our partner airlines.
- United does not offer unaccompanied minor service connecting to or from other airlines' flights.
- Children younger than 5 can’t travel as unaccompanied minors, even if they’re flying with an older unaccompanied child.
- Young adults ages 15-17 can travel alone on any United- or United Express®-operated flight, or they can choose to opt in to our unaccompanied minor service.
- It costs $150 each way for every two children traveling using the unaccompanied minor service.
Number of children traveling alone Number of children traveling alone Service fee for a one-way flight Service fee for roundtrip flights 1 $150 $300 2 $150 $300 3 $300 $600 4 $300 $600 5 $450 $900 6 $450 $900
When two or more children are traveling together
When two or more children are traveling together, the youngest child’s age determines whether the children will need use our unaccompanied minor service.
- Children younger than 5 need to travel with a parent, legal guardian or someone who is at least 18 years of age or older.
- If the youngest traveler is 5-14 and the oldest traveler is 15-17, the younger traveler is still considered an unaccompanied minor.
- If a 15-17-year-old opts into the unaccompanied minor service and is traveling with another child, you should make sure to book their trip on the same reservation so that the combined service fee is applied to their flights.
We want everything to run smoothly and for you to have peace of mind, so we’ve outlined each step of your child’s journey — from booking through the travel day. There’s also a checklist and tips. Who said this needs to be stressful?
You can book travel for your child in a couple ways:
- Visit united.com
- Select the advanced search option and change the number of adults to 0 from the default setting of 1
- Then, select the number of children traveling in each age range based on their ages on the day they’ll be traveling:
- You can also call the United Customer Contact Center and a United representative will be happy to help you. There’s a $25 booking service charge for reservations made through the Contact Center.
Provide your information
We’ll need to know who is dropping off and picking up your child. You’ll need to include this info when you book your child’s flight, but if anything changes, you can call the United Customer Contact Center to update this info before your child’s departure date.
SeatingWe want to make sure that your child is seated where they can get the care and attention they need from our flight attendants, so we’ll select a seat for them. You’ll be able to see the seat assignment 48 hours after you book the flight by going to your reservation.
Along with the ticket price, there’s a service charge of $150 each way for every two children traveling alone. This covers the extra service our flight attendants and airport employees provide. If you book on united.com, this charge will be added when you pay for your child’s ticket. If you call the United Customer Contact Center to book, we'll also collect this charge when you pay for your child’s ticket.
When children and adults are traveling together on separate reservations
If you’re traveling with your children but you’re on separate reservations, you don't need unaccompanied minor service. Before your travel, be sure to call the United Customer Contact Center so a United representative can add the relevant information to each reservation. Please keep in mind that children traveling on a separate reservation will need to check in with a United representative at the airport, since online and mobile check-in aren’t available for children under 15 years old.
Travel agency instructions
Travel agencies booking travel for unaccompanied minors should visit United Jetstream for complete instructions and policies.
- Visit united.com
Even if your child is a seasoned traveler or has traveled alone before, we recommend using this checklist to help them prepare for their trip:
- Write down phone numbers for your child in case they need to call you or another adult.
- Talk with your child about what they’ll experience at the airport, like going through security, finding their gate and boarding the plane, so they know what to expect.
- Be sure that they know to wait for a uniformed United representative to walk them off the plane when they land. Older children might feel like they can find their way through the airport alone, but as part of our unaccompanied minor service, they’ll need to wait for a United representative so we can make sure they arrive safe and sound.
- If they’re bringing any electronic devices, check to make sure they’re fully charged before you leave for the airport.
- Pack some books or games to keep your child entertained during the flight.
- Some countries require international travelers to complete an International Arrivals form before clearing customs and immigration at their destination. This form is handed out by flight attendants during the flight. To make it easier for your child to complete this form, visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website to see a sample form and write down the answers for your child on a small sheet of paper, placing it in their passport. Be sure your child knows that if they have any questions, a flight attendant or United representative will be happy to help.
- Remind your child that the United representatives at the airports and on board the plane are there to help make sure they have a safe, fun travel experience.
You’ll want to give yourself at least 30 extra minutes at the airport on the day your child is traveling, in addition to the suggested check-in and airport processing times. Here’s how the process will work:
- Online and mobile check-in aren't available for children traveling alone, as we want to talk with you in person and make sure your child is ready to go. When you arrive at the airport, please go to the check-in counter.
- We’ll verify the contact information for the adults designated to drop off your child and pick them up, or we’ll add this information to the reservation if it's not included already.
- We’ll give your child a wristband to wear and special bag tags so United representatives and flight attendants can clearly identify them as a child traveling on their own.
- Your child will receive a special envelope where they can keep important travel documents safe and handy during their trip, including boarding passes, unaccompanied minor forms, their passport, baggage claim tickets and receipts.
- You’ll receive a special customer service phone number to call if you have any questions after your child starts their trip.
Going through security
Whether or not you're able to go with your child to the departure gate depends on the departure airport.
- Flights departing from the U.S.: When you’re checking in at the counter, you can get a gate pass that allows you to go through security and to the gate with your child. When you get to the gate, introduce yourself to the United representative at the desk and tell them that your child will be traveling alone. Then, you can have a seat in the gate area to wait until it's time to board.
- Flights departing from airports outside the U.S.: A uniformed United representative will meet you and your child at the check-in counter. The representative will help your child through security and customs to the gate.
Even if you’re not able to take your child through security, you’ll need to stay at the airport until the flight has taken off.
When it's time to board, your child will board before normal boarding beings so our flight attendants can:
- Personally greet your child
- Introduce your child to the pilots, if there’s time
- Take your child to their seat and help with carry-on items
- Explain the safety features of the aircraft
- Point out where they can find the lavatories
Flight attendant check-ins
Flight attendants will check in with your child throughout the flight. They will also be available by call button if your child has any questions during the trip.
On flights that offer food for purchase, your child will receive one free food item. You may also want to pack their favorite snack. Please avoid gel or liquid snacks over 3.4 ounces, as your child won’t be able to take them through TSA security.
Our inflight entertainment options are different depending on the plane. To find out which entertainment options will be available on your child's flight, you can check the Inflight Amenities tab on the Flight Status information page on united.com or in the United app within three days of the flight. Please note that if the plane scheduled for your child's flight changes, the amenities available may also change.
Tip: If your child's flight offers personal device entertainment, please download the United app on their electronic device before you arrive at the airport. Then they can enjoy kids’ movies and other age-appropriate content on their device during their flight.
Once your child’s flight has arrived, a United representative will meet your child and bring them to meet their designated pick-up person.
- For all U.S. domestic flights and select international flights that have immigration and customs pre-clearance at the departure airport: You can get a gate pass at the United ticket counter in order to go through security to the gate to meet your child. If the ticket counter is closed, you can get a gate pass at a United baggage service office. Gate information is available on the United app and at united.com/flightstatus. If the flight arrives late enough at night that the TSA security checkpoint is closed, you’ll meet your child at the baggage claim assigned to the flight.
- For all other international flights: If your child is traveling on a flight that requires customs or immigration clearance upon arrival, you’ll meet your child in the greeting area on the arrivals level outside baggage claim.
The designated adult meeting your child will need to show their ID so we can verify their identity. They’ll also need to sign a release form that says they’ve accepted custody of your child.
No matter where your child is traveling, we hope they enjoy their journey with us.