American Airlines Adds $150 Fee for Tweens Flying Alone

All U.S. airlines charge an unaccompanied minor fee when children fly by themselves, but parents who thought their kids had outgrown this fee on American Airlines may be in for a surprise.

LISTEN: Travel expert Rick Seaney asks, how old is old enough for kids to fly alone?

New Mandatory Fee for Kids 12 to 14

Starting Sept. 3, children aged 12 to 14 traveling solo on American will have to pay the unaccompanied minor fee of $150. Previously, the airline only levied this fee on youngsters aged 5 to 11.

Note: The $150 fee is for one-way of travel only, so it’s conceivable that the cost of a child’s ticket could actually be less than the $300 round-trip unaccompanied minor fee.

What to know about kids flying alone

What Other Airlines Charge

Southwest has the cheapest unaccompanied minor fee we’ve seen while United joins American and US Airways in the most expensive range. Some examples:

Unaccompanied Minor Fee

Airline

Ages of Children

Fee, Each-Way

Southwest 5 to 11 $50
JetBlue 5 to 13 $100
Delta 5 to 14 $100
Virgin America 5 to 14 $75 to $125*
United 5 to 11 $150

*Price varies according to length of flight.

Why American is Making the Change

According to media reports that quote an email from American, the fee is being raised to ensure “the safest possible travel for our youngest customers” plus it brings the carrier into alignment with merger partner US Airways which already charges a fee for older solo travelers. Of course, alignment could also occur if US Airways changed its rules but apparently that is not to be.

Not sure what your airline’s policy is? Just search the carrier’s name and ‘unaccompanied minor.’ Caution: Unaccompanied minor fees are like all other airline fees – they can and do change without notice.

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Updated: November 7, 2014