Navigating the Unaccompanied Minor Skies!

Greetings from the Apogee office! We hope that the longer days and signs of spring are getting your child excited and ready for an Apogee summer! While a student’s preparation for an Apogee trip may include breaking in new hiking boots or getting in some cycling time, a parent’s trip preparation isn’t nearly as much fun – and can involve a lot of travel-planning headaches. A large part of the preparation, for many, will include finding the right flights for your child. We hope that this blog post will be insightful for parents when preparing to book flights, especially for the students flying as an unaccompanied minor (or as an “Unaccompanied Minor”*), and can 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 another Apogee trip destination we recommend that you follow the steps below before booking a flight:

  1. First, find flights that fall within your trip’s specific time window. (please refer to our “2018 Arrival Departure Time Table” chart).
  2. Call the airline to confirm their Unaccompanied Minor policy prior to making a reservation. The policies are often not clear 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.
  3. Ask the airline about any necessary documentation for Unaccompanied Minors. You may be required to give the name of the Apogee employee that will pick-up and/or drop-off your child on one of their journey. If so, please contact our office for details at 207-725-7025.
  4. 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!   

Here is a quick cheat sheet to help you navigate the major carriers in the United States and their Unaccompanied Minor policies:


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.

A few “unaccompanied minors” saying their goodbyes before their flights


* 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.

United Airlines: Ages 5-15 must use UM service. UM services not available for travelers over 15. 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). NONSTOP 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.$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) – $50 (connecting) each way. 

Virgin: Ages 5-11 must use UM services. Ages 12-17 have the option to request UM services. $75 – $125 each way.

Virgin Atlantic: Ages 5-15 must use UM services. No fee!