Dubai: What is the minimum age at which a child can travel alone when flying in to Dubai? Can they be accompanied by a guardian who is not their parent? This was the query raised by a Gulf News reader.
She asked: “My son who is under the age of 12 years is going to come to Dubai on a visit visa. Can he travel without either of his parents? If his grandparent is travelling with him, would they need to carry a letter stating the same? What are the rules in such a case?”
Rules on unaccompanied minors
Depending on the airline as well as the airport’s immigration rules, the restrictions and regulations on unaccompanied minors can vary. It is important to check with the specific airline, as well as the airport you are travelling from, to ensure that the minor is able to travel without any hassle. These are the regulations that UAE-based airlines follow for travellers under the age of 12.
According to the Emirates airlines website, while children aged between five and 11 can travel alone, they would need to fly on an adult fare. This fare also applies when they travel with an older child who is under 18, as they are not old enough to be the child’s guardian.
Parents can also book an ‘Unaccompanied Minors’ service for children aged five to 11 who are flying alone. This can be selected at the time of making the booking. The airline also offers a paid Unaccompanied Minors service for children aged 12 to 15.
According to the airlines, children under the age of eight years old travelling in another cabin class to their parent or guardian are also regarded as unaccompanied minors and would need to fly on an adult fare, along with children under 11 flying with them.
Children over the age of 12 already fly on an adult fare and are able to fly alone.
According to the Etihad airlines website, depending on the age of your child, they may or may not be able to fly alone.
Children under five are not permitted to fly alone. They must travel with a parent or guardian at all times.
Children aged five to 11 can use a free ‘Unaccompanied Minor’ service, which can be selected at the time of making the flight booking. However, the booking needs to be made on a normal adult fare.
Children aged 12 to 17 are permitted to travel on their own adult ticket. However, if parents wish to do so, they can book the unaccompanied minor service for this age group as well. Travellers between 12 and 17 are not permitted to escort an unaccompanied minor.
The unaccompanied minor form needs to be filled in while making the booking, where the guardian needs to fill in the necessary details of the itinerary as well as the guardian who will drop off and receive the minor. Etihad advises guardians that unaccompanied minors must be escorted to the airport and met on arrival by the parent or guardian mentioned on the Unaccompanied Minor form.
The parent or guardian must be present with the child at check-in and ensure that the child has all of the relevant forms and documents to travel alone. Check-in must be completed at least two hours before your child’s flight.
According to information provided on flydubai’s website, they do not accept unaccompanied minors. All children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
According to Air Arabia’s website, children above the age of 12 years are entitled to travel alone. However, if the child is under 12 years of age he or she needs to be accompanied by another passenger whose age is at least 16 years old.
Checking airport/immigration requirements
Apart from the regulations followed by the airline of your choice, you may also need to check the requirements at the airport from which you are travelling. For example, minors with French citizenship who are travelling outside of France without their parent or legal guardians must carry an official authorisation to exit the country, in addition to their passport. The original authorisation must be presented along with a copy of the identification of the parent or guardian who signed the document.
Similarly, Spanish minors under 18 years old travelling outside of the Spanish territory without the company of any of his/her legal representatives must carry in addition to their passport, a signed declaration of travel permit outside of the national territory. It is, therefore, advisable to contact the airport authorities as well, to find out what their requirements are on the travel of unaccompanied minors before finalising your child’s travel plan.