Airlines change stance on unaccompanied children

Airline policies on children flying alone are changing, with higher age limits and the withdrawal of unaccompanied minor schemes.

Parents who need to send their children unaccompanied on flights to and from Britain are finding their travel plans a little harder to organise.

Flybe has just dropped its unaccompanied minor product, which cost £79 each way for airline staff to supervise children at either end of the flight.

A similar “Flying Nanny” scheme — Skyflyer Solo — was withdrawn by British Airways at the start of 2017 after a decline in bookings.

Minimum age for travel

Now BA has announced the minimum age of a person permitted to travel alone on one of its flights has increased to 14 years, up from 12.

In addition, it said that those aged under 16 and travelling alone must complete a parental/guardian consent form before travel. It points out that its partner airlines may have different regulations, age limits and charges.

Among other UK-based airlines, easyJet and Thomas Cook have an age threshold of 14 years, while the limit for Ryanair is 16.

Flying nanny services

Flying nanny services have long been popular with expat families so their children can travel to and from Britain. Virgin Atlantic is one of the few major airlines still to operate a service, but with an adult fare applied to the unaccompanied children.

It has been reported that rising insurance costs are one of the factors behind the reluctance of airlines to continue with the service.

In January, Flybe blamed “ever increasing costs” for hiking the price of its unaccompanied minor service from £39.

The airline pointed to increased legislation and the requirement to evidence and comply with the necessary levels of safety, protection and scrutiny associated with unaccompanied child passengers. Following the price rise, it dropped the service altogether in May.