12 Year Old Kid Flying Alone? Don't Expect Too Much Help From Southwest

The Columbus Dispatch has an article about unaccompanied minors on airplanes that contains the following interesting nugget about Southwest Airlines’ policy:

Southwest escorts children 5 through 11 who are traveling alone, but “once you hit 12, you’re considered a youth and not an unaccompanied minor,” said Teresa Laraba, the airline’s vice president for ground operations.

Unlike most airlines, Southwest is nice enough not to charge for escorting younger kids, but you’re out of luck once your precious little brat turns 12. So what should you do?

Here’s a summery of various policies from different airlines, to help you find a policy you’re comfortable with. There are more specific policies in the article:


  • $75 each way for children 5 to 14 flying domestic and international flights.
  • You can opt to have your 15-17 year old treated as a minor if you want to lay down the cash.
  • Kids 5-7 have to fly direct, 8-14 can’t transfer to another airline.


  • $50 each way for kids 5-15 traveling non-stop, $95 for a connecting flight within the U.S. or Mexico. $70 and $95 for international flights.
  • No connections for kids 5-7.


  • $50 each way for children 5 to 15, $100 for connections.
  • 5-7 not allowed on connecting flights.

    Northwest Airlines:

  • $50 each way for children 5 to 14 on nonstop flights and $75 with a connection within the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. $60 and $90 for international trips.

    Southwest Airlines:

  • No fee. 5-11 on non-stop flights only. No connections.

    United Airlines:

  • $99 fee each way for children 5 to 11.
  • Children 5 to 7 are allowed only on nonstop or direct flights.

    US Airways:

  • $50 each way for children 5 to 14.
  • Kids are only allowed on non-stop flights.

Minor passengers, major worries [Columbus Dispatch]
(Photo:Jay Adan)

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