Rules for Children Traveling on Air Flights

Updated July 20, 2017

Youngsters require extra care when travelling on an aeroplane. To ensure minors are comfortable and safe in the air, airlines set regulations with their needs in mind. The basic rules and concerns for children travelling on air flights involve their supervision and seating.


The earliest a child can travel is 2 days old, although airlines prefer children be a minimum of 1 week old. The understandable exception to this is when a pregnant passenger delivers while the aeroplane is in transit. If a child younger than 15 years old travels without an older companion, most airlines consider him an unaccompanied minor.

Unaccompanied Minors

Children must be at least 5 years old in order to fly unescorted. Tickets must be booked in advance. Unaccompanied minors incur a charge of £16, and possibly additional charges, because of the extra care they require. This varies by airline. They usually board ahead of other passengers so flight attendants can properly introduce themselves and get the children settled. They wear a lanyard with attached travel information to designate their status. Management transfers children upon arrival to the care of airline staff in the airport or to the person designated in the form filled in by the guardian/parent at the departure city. Flights with a chance of landing at other destinations due to weather disturbances or other such considerations sometimes prohibit unaccompanied children on board.


Infants under the age of 2 can sit on the lap of an adult. To facilitate this type of seating arrangement, passengers need to notify the reservations department they will be travelling with an infant on their laps. If there are two infants and only one adult accompanying them, one of the children must have a separate seat. Child-safety seats ensure the safety of small children during transit. FAA regulations ban children from sitting in exit rows.


Sometimes airline staff will inspect the child’s documentation. In order to avoid hassles, an adult travelling with a child should carry some identification for him. A current passport or the child's birth certificate usually is sufficient. An older child can also use a school ID.

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