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What is Virgin Atlantic’s policy for unaccompanied children?

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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
Virgin Atlantic's policy for unaccompanied children

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
Virgin Atlantic's policy for unaccompanied children
  • 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.

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Comments (46)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Will says:

    I always thought BA missed a trick in club Europe with respect to kids and the middle seat.

    As parents and one child we choose economy over club because we want to sit in a row together.

    If BA would allow a young child to sit in the middle seat the club Europe (discounted middle seat) we might specifically book that.

    Yes you can book 3 seats and do that anyway but it’s annoying to need to do so, I’d expect a discounted middle seat and from the airlines perspective they free up a seat elsewhere (which clearly isn’t a regulatory issue as they can push the curtain for business class back and forth as they wish)

    • dougzz99 says:

      But then flexibility is lost, as the 3 seats have to be locked together.

      I think this is like a lot of regional long haul and the more domestic connections to LHR/LGW posts. People mistake something they’d like for a commercially viable proposition.

    • jjoohhnn says:

      Also adding the child may then require an additional staff member for the cabin, so actually cost them more money than selling an additional (discounted!) seat.

  • THOMAS says:

    Is this really ‘copying’ when it’s 4 years after BA make the rule change? Perhaps the intervening years – effected by covid admittedly – showed no uptick in unaccompanied minors flooding to VS due to BA’s change. Think 4 years is sufficient to show if it was a ‘missed opportunity’?

  • PeterK says:

    So reading the first rule:

    ‘the child must check in with the parent whose passport copy they are carrying’

    then if both parents live at one end of the route, a 14/15 year old can only travel unaccompanied in one direction?🤷‍♂️

    • LittleNick says:

      No because they could carry a consent form/passport copy from the parent at the other end on their return, no?

    • Bagoly says:

      which would explain why they didn’t get any boarding school traffic.

  • Kwab says:

    Our friend’s 12 year old child recently flew LHR-HND-ITM with JAL as an unaccompanied minor which included supervision during the 3 hour stopover in Haneda.

  • Doommonger says:

    Greedy British boarding schools, take anyone’s, money, full of Chinese sent by the regime for longer term nefarious purposes

    • Rob says:

      Not many British parents who want to pay £50k per year in fees these days, although my daughter is keen to go to one for A-levels for a break from London.

      Private schools prefer not to take foreign kids or indeed expats (in the UK) kids because they are less reliable. We made it quite clear to potential new schools for my son that we expected him to remain through to A-levels, which would be 5 years of fees. None of this ‘HQ is saying we have to go back to Dallas so we’re pulling the kid out’ routine.

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