What are the age restrictions for children traveling alone?
Southwest Airlines only allows children from 5 to 11 years old to travel unaccompanied by another passenger at least 12 years old. Southwest Airlines offers Unaccompanied Minor Service for children traveling alone, and the service is mandatory.
For children 12 years or older traveling alone, the Unaccompanied Minor Service is not available. On domestic flights, children 12 to 17 years of age may travel without an accompanying passenger age 18 or older as Young Travelers. On international flights, children under the age of 18 are not permitted to travel unaccompanied.
How do I book a flight for an Unaccompanied Minor?
To book a flight for an Unaccompanied Minor you may contact a Southwest Airlines Customer Representative by phone or at the ticket counter.
Flights can be booked online also because Child Fare does not apply to children traveling alone. The steps for booking online are the same until entering the child’s birth date, when you will be asked to indicate whether the child will travel with an accompanying passenger at least 12 years old. If the child will travel unaccompanied, you have to complete the necessary paperwork.
Once purchased, you should make copies of the itinerary for both the Unaccompanied Minor and the person picking-up the child at the destination.
Unaccompanied Minor Service
Unaccompanied Minor paperwork has to be completed when booking a flight for a child traveling alone, before arriving at the ticket counter. The Unaccompanied Minor form contains all necessary information to facilitate the transfer of the child between designated parties:
- Child (name, date of birth, gender, destination, flight number).
- Parent/guardian at origin (name, relationship, address, phone).
- Parent/guardian at destination (name, relationship, address, phone).
- Alternate contact at destination (name, relationship, phone).
Southwest Airline allows Unaccompanied Minors to travel only on non-stop or direct flights. Southwest Airlines reserves the right not to accept Unaccompanied Minors on flights that, because of operational disruptions or inclement weather, are anticipated to terminate short of or bypass the child’s destination.
The Unaccompanied Minors Service is not available for flights to/from international destinations.
Drop-off and Pick-up
Make sure to allow enough time at the airport to check in, pass through security and get to the departure gate no later than 45 minutes before the scheduled departure!
Upon arrival at the airport, the Unaccompanied Minor and parent/guardian dropping off the child must check in at the ticket counter. Even if the Unaccompanied Minor has no baggage to check and already checked in online or at the self-service kiosk, the child and the person dropping off the child must recheck at the ticket counter in order to receive the boarding pass, respectively an escort pass.
At the ticket counter, you must present the following documentation:
- A copy of the Unaccompanied Minor’s itinerary.
- Proof of age (the child’s birth certificate, etc.).
- The completed Unaccompanied Minor form.
- Your valid, government-issued ID.
The completed form will be inserted in an Unaccompanied Minor lanyard that the child must wear throughout the flight. The escort pass allows you to pass through security and accompany your child to the departure gate.
At the departure gate, you must notify the Customer Service Agent that you are dropping off an Unaccompanied Minor. Unaccompanied Minors board the flight, before general boarding begins, escorted by a Southwest Airlines employee who will introduce the child to the Flight Attendant. If you miss the opportunity to preboard, the child will be escorted onto the aircraft after all passengers have boarded or in between boarding groups. You will have to remain in the gate area until the flight is in the air.
The parent/guardian meeting the Unaccompanied Minor at the destination must present a valid, government-issued ID and a copy of the child’s itinerary and obtain an escort pass at the ticket counter. The person picking-up the Unaccompanied Minor should be at the gate 45 minutes before scheduled arrival. You should notify a Southwest Airlines employee that you are picking-up an Unaccompanied Minor. The child will be escorted off the plane by a uniformed Southwest Airlines employee and taken to meet the designated parent/guardian, which must present a valid photo ID and sign a release form.
In addition to the air fare, Southwest Airlines charges $50 one-way ($100 roundtrip) for the Unaccompanied Minor Service. The Unaccompanied Minor fee must be paid when making a reservation for an Unaccompanied Minor. The fee is nonrefundable.