Greetings from the Apogee office! Though the snow and ice persists here in Brunswick, we’re starting to prepare for the summer in earnest – and perhaps you are too! While student preparation for an Apogee trip often includes heading out for a hike to break in new boots or getting some time on the bike, parent prep is rarely as much fun. A large part of that preparation, for many, will include finding the right flights for their child. Our hope is that this blog post will help inform our families about important things to consider when preparing to book flights – especially for students flying as an unaccompanied minor (or as an “Unaccompanied Minor”*) – and make this sometimes stressful process feel more clear and manageable.
*A Note on Terminology: A sixteen-year old flying on her own is, of course, an unaccompanied minor – but unless she has paid the airline for their service, she is not an Unaccompanied Minor. The capitalized term refers to the airlines’ service that, in general allows parents and/or Apogee staff to escort the student to her gate for departure, and meet her at the gate on arrival. There is always a fee for the service and there are numerous restrictions that vary from airline to airline. Without the Unaccompanied Minor service, the student is recognized as an adult and not subject to additional traveling restrictions. Most airlines will require Apogee’s younger students (between 11 and 14) to use their Unaccompanied Minor service. Older students (between 15 and 18) will usually have the option to use the service or not. Editor’s Note: Because of the cost and the relative hassle associated with flying as an Unaccompanied Minor, we recommend skipping the service when it’s optional.
Whether your child is flying to Maine, California, Scotland, or any other Apogee trip destination around the globe, we recommend that you follow the steps below before booking a flight:
- First, find flights that fall within the specific time window for your child’s trip (please refer to our “2018 Arrival Departure Time Table” chart). Please reach out to the office to discuss options if you are having trouble finding flights that arrive or depart within the designated time window.
- Call the airline to confirm their Unaccompanied Minor policy prior to making a reservation. The policies are often not clear or entirely up-to-date online and there may be exceptions or differences in the policy depending on the arrival and departure location. Additionally, some airlines require you to make reservations for Unaccompanied Minors over the phone.
- Ask the airline about any necessary documentation for Unaccompanied Minors. You may be required to give the name of the Apogee employee who will pick-up and/or drop-off your child. If so, please contact our office for details at 207-725-7025.
- Finally, don’t forget to put your tray table up and keep your seat back in the upright position – safe and happy travels, and we’ll see you on trip start day. Bon Voyage!
Unaccompanied Minor Reference
Cost: Unaccompanied Minor (UM) services range from $50-$150 each way, depending on the airline.
Routes: The vast majority of airlines will not allow Unaccompanied Minors to transfer to or from other airlines. Additionally, most allow Unaccompanied Minors to travel only on nonstop or direct flights. Some exceptions exist.
* Guidelines only! Because the airlines can change their policies at any time without notice, we strongly recommend that you check in directly with your airline for their current policy. This information was found online on February 15, 2018.
United Airlines: Ages 5-14 must use UM service. UM services not available for travelers 15 and over. NONSTOP Flights only. $150 each way.
American Airlines: Ages 8-14 must use UM services. Ages 15-17 have the option to request UM service. UM travelers can connect through major American hubs. $150 each way.
Delta: Ages 5-14 must use UM service. Ages 15-17 have the option to request UM services. $150 each way.
JetBlue: Ages 5-13 must use UM service. Ages 14 and over have the option to request a “meet & assist” by calling JetBlue. NONSTOP Flights only. $100 each way.
Southwest: Ages 5-11 must use UM service. No UM service internationally – and students under 18 cannot travel unaccompanied on an international route (so – unless you’re traveling with a parent or already 18, Southwest is not an option for international destinations). Domestic NONSTOP or direct flights only. **Less expensive than most airlines: $50 each way.
Air Canada: Ages 8-11 must use UM service. Ages 12-17 have the option to request UM service. NONSTOP Flights only. $100 each way.
Alaska Airlines: Ages 5-12 must use UM services. Ages 13-17 have the option to request UM services. **Less expensive than most airlines: $25 (direct) to $50 (connecting) each way.
Virgin: Ages 5-12 must use UM services. Ages 8-12 may use UM services on both nonstop and connections. Ages 13-17 have the option to request UM services. **Less expensive than most airlines: $25 (nonstop/direct) to $50 (connection) each way.
Virgin Atlantic: Ages 5-11 must use UM services. Ages 12-18 have the option to request UM services. No additional fee, but the Unaccompanied Minor service is charged as an adult fare.