What are the British Airways rules for unaccompanied children flying with the airline?
We haven’t written about this topic since 2018. This is the excuse I am using for having almost come a cropper last month. (My other excuse is that I didn’t write that 2018 article!).
Let’s run over the British Airways rules for unaccompanied children.
Back in 2018, BA raised the minimum age for a child travelling alone from 12 to 14.
The ‘Skyflyer’ service which allocated chaperones to unaccompanied minors was scrapped by British Airways in 2016 as a cost cutting measure.
The problem was that children aged 12+, who were still allowed to travel on their own, were struggling to cope without any adult oversight. The 2018 change raised the minimum age to 14 and this seems to have worked OK.
Where I went wrong ….
My 15-year old daughter attended a summer camp in Europe last month.
I had assumed that there wouldn’t be any problems. Aside from the fact that 15-year olds these days are more mature than I was at 18, my daughter flies 5+ times per year with British Airways and is a British Airways Executive Club Silver card holder. She knows Terminal 5 back to front.
What I didn’t know is that any child aged 14 or 15 and travelling alone MUST bring a completed parent / guardian consent form and a copy of the parental passport with them to the airport.
At no point in the ticket booking process was this mentioned, I’m sure.
ba.com says (emphasis mine):
If you’d like to book a flight for a child under the age of 16 who will be travelling alone, please get in touch via our Contact Us page as you can’t do this online.
This is not true. I had no problem booking for my daughter at ba.com, and as her BAEC number was in the booking British Airways knew exactly how old she was.
I know for a fact that the need for paperwork was not mentioned during online check-in. OLCI didn’t actually work but ba.com did not explain why – I assumed that, because she was travelling alone, BA staff simply wanted to see her in person at a check-in desk.
(I am not passing the buck here. I accept it is my responsbility to know the rules. I just wouldn’t mind being pointed in the right direction to find the rules!)
Luckily, because my daughter was flying at 8.30am, my wife offered to take her to Heathrow alone and leave me in bed. This meant I was able to help when I got a call from Terminal 5 at 6.30am.
My wife had to complete the consent form and provide a paper copy of her passport photo page. This is key – the original passport is not acceptable (not that my wife had it) and a picture shown on a mobile device is not acceptable. It must be on paper so that the child can carry it with them.
Luckily – and full credit to the Terminal 5 check-in staff here – once I had sent a photo of my wife’s passport to her mobile phone, a T5 check-in supervisor was able to print it off after it was forwarded to a certain email address. My daughter made it through check-in with time to spare.
Let this be a lesson if you are planning to let your 14- or 15-year old children fly on their own in the near future!
Full details of the rules are on this page of ba.com.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2023)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.