British Airways has introduced two important policy changes regarding children flying alone on the airline which apply from Tuesday 1 May 2018.
1. Minimum age for unaccompanied children
BA has, with effect from Tuesday 1 May 2018, increased the minimum age at which a child is allowed to fly alone from 12 to 14 years.
No bookings for children under 14 years flying alone can be made after Tuesday 1 May 2018. Bookings can continue to be made before this date and will be honoured.
BA withdrew its “Skyflyer Solo” service which provided a chaperone for unaccompanied minors on 31 January 2017.
2. New procedures affecting all unaccompanied children under the age of 16
In addition, all children under 16 and travelling alone from Tuesday 1 May 2018 must have a completed parental/guardian consent form prior to travel. This change applies regardless of when the booking was made.
The form will be available on ba.com from early April 2018. Parents/guardians will need to download, print and complete the form prior to travel. Unaccompanied children must ensure they bring the form with them and carry it at all times.
Based on guidance provided by BA to the travel trade, this change is driven by BA requiring a consent form in order to provide children with assistance during unexpected disruption, such as the diversion of an aircraft or cancellation of a flight.
There’s more guidance on children flying alone on ba.com
Your children can fly for free on BA between select short-haul destinations and London Heathrow this summer
BA first ran this promotion last year and it has relaunched it for summer 2017. Up to two children to the age of twelve can fly for free with an adult on flights between London Heathrow and Belfast, Edinburgh, Inverness, Leeds-Bradford, Newcastle in the UK and Billund in mainland Europe.
The promotion only applies to flights to/from London Heathrow and bookings in EuroTraveller economy. It does not apply to flights to/from London Gatwick or London City.
The offer is valid for travel from Thursday 1 June 2017 to Tuesday 31 October 2017 and flights must be booked by Saturday 30 September 2017.
There are no particular downsides or catches to this promotion. Other than that availability is restricted and some destinations, notably Edinburgh, have significantly more flights a day to choose from than others.
Note this offer is only open to residents of the UK, the Republic Of Ireland and Denmark. Full terms and conditions and more information is available on ba.com
Withdrawal of Skyflyer Solo service from 31 January 2017
British Airways has announced it is to withdraw its Skyflyer Solo service for children travelling alone (often referred to as “unaccompanied minors”) from Tuesday 31 January 2017.
The airline has also closed its Skyflyer Solo service for future bookings with immediate effect. Therefore, no new bookings for the Skyflyer Solo service will be accepted, regardless of the date of travel.
The Skyflyer Solo service was a paid-for service whereby children travelling alone would be escorted and supervised at the airport by a dedicated airline representative. On arrival, the child would be met at the aircraft door and escorted through the arrivals process until handed over to a nominated adult.
BA will continue to allow children over the age of twelve to travel alone. Any children under the age of twelve must be accompanied by an adult over the age of sixteen.
The only reason given by BA for the withdrawal of the service is a decline in demand.
Whilst BA is at pains to emphasise that the decision has not been made lightly, there is bound to be a loss of goodwill amongst many of its frequent flyers. No doubt the first introduction to British Airways amongst many such frequent flyers was travelling alone as a child.
Alternative options for affected passengers
For parents & guardians looking for alternative services, airlines which provided dedicated services for unaccompanied minors include Virgin Atlantic,KLM,Lufthansa and Swiss. easyJet do not offer a dedicated unaccompanied minors service.
Somewhat ironically, Iberia and Iberia Express which are both owned by the same parent company as British Airways (International Airlines Group) will continue to provide an unaccompanied minors service, even for flights they operate from London Heathrow Terminal 5.