With schools across the UAE approaching the end of term, we’re counting down the days and gearing up for summer holidays – and we just can’t wait! But whilst some families will be flying back together, it’s just not possible for everyone and so we’ll often hear of children staying here, some enrolling in Summer Camps due to parents work commitments. This can sometimes be tough, especially if everyone’s eager to get home to see family and friends.
There are many reasons why a child may have to travel unaccompanied, whether travelling to stay with Grandparents, participating in a school or educational camp, visiting family in another country, or whatever the reason it’s safe to say that our children are getting more independent by the day and the number of unaccompanied minors is most definitely growing.
However, travelling alone can sound like a daunting prospect for a child, (not least for parents too) and in some cases, it just may not even be possible. However, the new breed of young jet-setters who are accustomed to going it alone on Qantas however, are not actually going it ‘alone’ at all – dare we say, they can actually really enjoy their adventure!
Qantas aim to pull out all the stops to help children enjoy every single minute of their journey by offering them their own special transit lounge, where they’ll find games and all sorts of things to keep them busy (on the ground and on board) and cabin crew that will help them every step of the way, so you can rest reassured knowing they’re settled, fed and watered and most importantly, fully cared for. In fact, their staff will even escort your precious cargo all the way from check-in to going through Immigration and Customs so that they’re delivered safely and with beaming faces ready to meet relatives on arrival.
If you’re choosing the Unaccompanied Minor service for the first time, we have some tips to help your children feel more at ease on their journey; Having your child take their special toy on the flight and charging them with the responsibility of looking after it can make them feel secure. During the flight, Qantas crew will always be there to check on your child and make sure they’re fully entertained (if they can prize them off the headphones that is!)
What age can a child travel as an Unaccompanied Minor?
As in any situation, it’s vital that as parents, we ensure that our children understand the process, know they’re in safe hands and are aware of who will be meeting them at the other end of the journey. An adult fare is charged for each Unaccompanied Minor booking made online or through a Qantas Office to cover some of the costs of the additional services and facilities required, but these additional services are not required for children travelling with a parent, guardian or sibling aged 15 years or older.
Qantas considers a child under 12 years to be an Unaccompanied Minor if:
Your child needs to travel without their parent (or guardian) or
If your child is not travelling with a sibling 15 years or older or
If your child is not travelling with an adult who has been nominated by you.
However, for extra peace of mind, you can choose to opt for this service for your child up to 15 years if you wish, and if your child is older than 15, they can fly alone being identified as ‘Young Passengers’ meaning Qantas still have an eye out for them on board anyway.
It’s easy to call up the Qantas call centre and complete a declaration form but take note – If you haven’t booked your child an Unaccompanied Minor where that service is required, your child may not be accepted for travel alone and could even be denied travel at the airport, so remember Qantas’ Unaccompanied Minors service is mandatory for children travelling ages 6-11.
While children may fly unaccompanied from 5 years of age for certain flights, it is however, important to wait until you feel your little one is ready or not and that’s only best judged by mum. Some good advice is to consider how many times your child has flown already, are they capable of caring for themselves and think about how comfortable they are on their own and doing that could be perceived as scary for the first time. If they’re ready, one thing is for sure; they’re ready for one of life’s great adventures being the wonder of travel.
*The unaccompanied minor service above refers to travel on Qantas operated flights only (travel to/from Australia & New Zealand incurs additional fees).