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Frequently asked questions about children traveling alone


Before travel

At the departure airport

During the flight

At the arrival airport


Can my 16- or 17-year-old child use United's unaccompanied minor service?

No, United's unaccompanied minor service is not available for children over 15 years old.

For tickets purchased before December 14, 2015

Children ages 12-17 can use United's unaccompanied minor service on eligible nonstop flights, or they can travel as adults without unaccompanied minor service, on any United or United Express flight. If they will be using United's unaccompanied minor service during their travel, they can only be booked on eligible nonstop flights operated by United or United Express. United does not offer unaccompanied minor service on connecting flights or to or from other airlines' flights.

Can I pay the unaccompanied minor service charge when I buy a ticket on or through a United Customer Contact Center?

Yes, we recommend paying the unaccompanied minor service charge at the same time you purchase a ticket on or through the United Customer Contact Center to make the day of travel as easy as possible. If you're booking travel for an unaccompanied minor on, remember to choose the correct age for the child at the beginning of your flight search to avoid accidentally booking them as an adult.

What is the service charge when multiple unaccompanied children are traveling together?

The service charge will be $150 per flight for up to nine children traveling in the same or separate reservations, as long as they all have the same drop-off and pick-up parties.

Can I book a reservation and pay the unaccompanied minor service charge through a travel agency?

Yes, you can book a reservation for an unaccompanied minor through a travel agency. However, once you've purchased the ticket, you or your travel agent will need to call the United Customer Contact Center so that a United representative can add the required travel information to your child's reservation and collect the service charge payment.

What information do I need to provide when my child travels unaccompanied?

In addition to the information obtained during booking, we require the following information in order to accept an unaccompanied minor for travel:

  • The full name, telephone numbers and address of the person bringing the child to the airport.
  • The full name, telephone numbers and address of the person meeting the child at his or her destination.

Can the unaccompanied minor service charge be refunded if a parent, legal guardian or other adult purchases a ticket and will be accompanying the child on the flight?

Yes, the unaccompanied minor service charge can be refunded if the child will be traveling with someone who is at least 18 years old. You can request a refund online at

Can a minor travel alone internationally?

Yes, unaccompanied minors are welcome to travel to any of our international destinations, provided there is a nonstop flight.

Can I book my child in a premium cabin?

Yes, we are happy to welcome your child in any of our premium cabins.

What does the service charge cover?

The benefits of our unaccompanied minor program include:

  • Seating near the front of the aircraft, when available.
  • A complimentary food item on flights that offer food for purchase.
  • Pre-boarding at the beginning of the boarding process, offering extra time to get settled before takeoff.
  • Special flight attendant check-ins throughout the flight.

My child is booked on a connecting flight, but will be flying from the connection point with an adult. How do I add that information to the reservation?

Please call the United Customer Contact Center. A representative will be happy to add this information to the reservation.

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Before travel

When I bring my child to the airport, where do I check in?

When you arrive at the airport, please check in with a representative at the United check-in counter. We're sorry, but online, mobile and kiosk check-in are not available for children traveling alone.

What type of inflight entertainment will be available for my child?

We offer different inflight entertainment options across our fleet, with availability depending on the aircraft. To find out which entertainment options will be available on your child's flight, check the Inflight Amenities tab on the Flight Status information page on or the United app within three days of departure. Please note that if the aircraft scheduled for your child's flight changes, the amenities available may also change.

Is my child allowed to carry a pet in the aircraft cabin?

No, unaccompanied minors are not permitted to travel with in-cabin pets. Visit to learn about the other pet transportation and shipping services available through our PetSafe® program.

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At the departure airport

Can I take my child to the gate?

Yes, you will be required to accompany your child to the gate, unless they are departing from an airport outside the United States. Please see the Children traveling alone page for more information.

Can I board the aircraft with my child?

No, for security reasons, only ticketed customers may access the aircraft. However, a parent or guardian must remain at the airport until the aircraft is airborne in case there is an unexpected delay or cancellation.

Where do I drop my child off at the airport?

When you arrive at the airport, please visit the United check-in counter. A United representative will advise you on whether you are able to take your child to the departure gate or if they will need to be escorted by a United representative.

How will I know when the flight is in the air?

We provide several options to keep you updated on when your child's flight is airborne, including checking the flight status on the mobile app or, asking a United representative in the airport terminal or contacting a United Customer Contact Center.

What if my child's flight is delayed or canceled?

We require you to stay at the airport until after the flight has taken off in the unlikely event that your child's flight is delayed or canceled. If the flight is canceled, please see a United representative to obtain new flight information, boarding passes and departure gate information.

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During the flight

Can my child bring food on board?

Yes, you are encouraged to pack a snack in your child's carry-on for them to enjoy during the flight. Please remember that snacks made of gels or liquids are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces or less. Items that do not meet this requirement will not be allowed through the security checkpoint.

On flights that offer food for purchase, your child will also receive one complimentary food item.

My child is on medication. How is that handled?

United representatives are not allowed to administer medication to customers. If your child has a condition that requires medication, please consult with your physician before making your flight reservations. They may feel that it would be best to postpone travel until medication is no longer needed, or they may be able to recommend a different dosage for the day of travel so that taking medication is not necessary during the flight.

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At the arrival airport

When do I need to arrive at the airport to pick up my child?

We recommend that you arrive at the airport to pick up your child as follows:

  • For all U.S. domestic flights and select international flights that have immigration and customs pre-clearance at the departure airport: Please plan on arriving at the airport 45 minutes before the scheduled arrival time of your child's flight. This will allow you time to obtain a "gate pass" at the United ticket counter so you can proceed through security to the arrival gate to meet your child. Flight and arrival gate information is available on the United app or at
  • For all other international flights: If your child is traveling on a flight that requires International Customs/Immigration clearance, please arrive at the airport at the flight's scheduled arrival time and wait outside of the customs area on the arrivals level. This is where you will meet your child once they've passed through customs.

Can I substitute the name of the adult who will pick up my child?

Yes, when the contact information of the person who will be either dropping off or picking up your child changes, please call our United Customer Contact Center. A United representative will be happy to update your child's reservation with the current information.

Who will escort my child off the aircraft?

Upon arrival, a United representative will escort your child to meet the adult designated to pick them up. Remember that this individual will need to show the United representative a government-issued ID.

Will my child be the first off the aircraft?

Based on where your child is seated, they may not be the first off the aircraft. A United representative will escort your child to meet you at either the arrival gate or other designated arrival area.

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