Our article on Monday on the British Airways policy for unaccompanied children was far more popular than we expected, so I thought it was worth taking a look at how Virgin Atlantic tackles the same problem.
Following a rule change in November 2022 – which wasn’t publicised at the time – nothing is different, with the minimum age for travelling alone raised from 12 to 14.
You can treat this as either:
- Virgin Atlantic taking the easy way out, knowing that no-one will criticise it for copying BA, or
- Virgin Atlantic missing an opportunity to cash in on an (admittedly small) market opportunity left by BA
Given how many overseas children, especially from Asia and the Middle East, go to boarding school in the UK, it does seem a bit of a missed opportunity.
What is the Virgin Atlantic policy on children travelling alone?
Full details are on this page of the Virgin Atlantic website.
Following the November 2022 changes, children under 14 are banned from travelling alone on Virgin Atlantic. This copies the British Airways policy which has been in place since 2018.
A child aged 14 or 15 can travel alone but must – like British Airways – carry a consent form and a photocopy of their parent’s current passport.
You are asked to contact Virgin Atlantic directly to make a booking for a 14 or 15 year old. It doesn’t specifically say that the website won’t allow it. (BA, you will remember, says that the website won’t allow it but this is not correct.)
Even if the child is 14 or 15 years old, Virgin Atlantic will not accept them for travel if the trip involves a connecting flight.
Virgin Atlantic has other policies which are stricter than those published by British Airways, although it is not clear if BA does actually have the same policies in practice:
- the child must check in with the parent whose passport copy they are carrying
- the child must have a fully charged mobile phone with international roaming capability with them
- the child must have a credit or debit card with them, or as much currency as the airline decides would be required to provide subsistence in case of delays, cancellations or rerouting
- the parent must not leave the airport until the flight has departed
- arrangement must be in place for the child to be met on arrival (it is not clear how the airline will verify this)
Virgin Atlantic also has rules for parents dumping their kids in economy!
Interestingly, Virgin Atlantic also has published rules for parents who want to fly in Upper Class or Premium and leave their children unsupervised in Premium or Economy.
This is allowed if the child is 14 or 15 years old, but is not allowed if the child is 13 years old or younger.
It’s not a surprise to see Virgin Atlantic copying the British Airways rules on unaccompanied children. That said, it does seem like a missed opportunity to win the business of children at UK boarding schools and the expat / separated parents market. In some ways it fails to reflect the fact that children today are far more mature at a younger age than their parents.
How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (September 2023)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):
SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points if you apply by 2nd October. You receive 15,000 Virgin Points with your first purchase and a further 15,000 points if you spend £3,000 within 90 days. Apply here.
You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.
Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.
(Want to earn more Virgin Points? Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)