United Airlines Changes Unaccompanied Minor (UM) Policy For Kids Traveling Alone

Posted: 12:49 am EDT
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An FS member alerted us about a recent change in United Airlines’ unaccompanied minor (UM) policy.  “It had been optional to be an unaccompanied minor for those 12 and above — now everyone under 16 is required to pay an extra $150, fly only on direct United flights, and be handed off at the gate by a guardian or caregiver at each end.”

Apparently, United was the last of the three major airlines with a permissive UM policy.  Delta and American already required the UM service for those under 15, although minors were allowed to change planes.

Our correspondent asks: “Is M/FLO engaged on this?  There will presumably, be a significant impact on 9th and 10th graders from the foreign affairs community attending boarding school in the USA while their parents are abroad.  Combine these UM policies with city-pair rules, requiring the use of a contract carrier when travel is USG-paid, and I see an interesting Catch 22 brewing.”

We’ve asked the FLO but have not received a response.

Below via United:

For tickets purchased on or after December 14, 2015, children 5 to 15 years of age who travel on an aircraft without a parent, a legal guardian or someone who is at least 18 years of age are considered unaccompanied minors and are subject to certain restrictions. Travel arrangements for these young travelers can be booked through united.com or the United Customer Contact Center.

Information for children traveling alone

  • Unaccompanied minors can only travel on nonstop flights operated by United or United Express®. United does not offer unaccompanied minor service to or from other airlines’ flights.
  • Children younger than 5 years of age are not accepted as unaccompanied minors.
  • Children 5 to 15 years of age who are traveling alone must use our unaccompanied minor service. A service charge will apply.
  • Unaccompanied minor service is not available for children over age 15. Children ages 16 and 17 may travel alone on any United- or United Express-operated flights.
Children 5 to 15 years of age who are not accompanied on an aircraft by a parent, a legal guardian or someone who is at least 18 years of age are considered unaccompanied minors and are subject to certain restrictions. Travel arrangements for these young travelers can be booked through united.comor the United Customer Contact Center.

Information for children traveling alone

  • Unaccompanied minors can only travel on nonstop flights operated by United or United Express®. United does not offer unaccompanied minor service to or from other airlines’ flights.
  • Children younger than 5 years of age are not accepted as unaccompanied minors.
  • Children 5 to 15 years of age who are traveling alone must use our unaccompanied minor service and pay the applicable service charge.
  • Children ages 12 to 17 can use United’s unaccompanied minor service for travel on nonstop flights operated by United or United Express, or they can travel as adults on any flights without using United’s unaccompanied minor service.

Service charges

Children traveling unaccompanied pay the regular adult fare. An additional service charge is collected to cover extra handling required when an unaccompanied child travels. Please confirm this charge when placing your reservation.

The service charge is $150 each way for children traveling with United’s unaccompanied minor service to any destination. The unaccompanied minor service charge may be paid at the time of reservation, or prior to departure at a United check-in counter.

FAQ: Frequently asked questions

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American Airlines says on its website that its unaccompanied minor service is to ensure your child is boarded onto the aircraft, introduced to the flight attendant, chaperoned during connections and released to the appropriate person at their destination.

  • The unaccompanied minor service fee is $150 (plus tax) each way
  • 2 or more unaccompanied minors from the same family, traveling on the same flights, will only be charged $150 (plus tax) each way

American Airlines will not accept unaccompanied minors when their itineraries include a connection to/from another airline, including codeshare and oneworld® partners and ground/co-terminal connections (unaccompanied minors under 15 years, can’t use ground transportation alone). Read more here.

Delta Airlines also provides special services for children who are flying by themselves. Children 5-14 years of age traveling without an adult (18 years plus) are considered an Unaccompanied Minor (UMNR) and must participate in the airlines’ UMNR program.  Unaccompanied Minor (UMNR) service is mandatory for ages 5-14. Children ages 15-17 are not required to have unaccompanied service; however, we will provide the service if requested. The UMNR service fee will apply. Read more here.

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Delta to Stop Accepting Pets as Checked Baggage With One Notable Exception (Not the Foreign Service)

Posted: 12:59 am EDT
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On November 16, Delta announced that it will no longer accept pets as checked baggage, but will continue to transport allowable pets in all cabins of service except Delta One, effective March 1, 2016. Customers may also ship pets for travel within the United States as freight through Delta Cargo. There is only one notable exception to this new policy: Members of the military with active transfer orders will be allowed to transport a pet as checked baggage. Delta says it will continue to accept service and emotional support animals that comply with federal regulations including proper documentation.  Below is part of the announcement:

“Many of us at Delta are pet lovers and we know that they are important members of the family,” said Bill Lentsch, Senior Vice President – Airport Customer Service and Cargo Operations. “This change will ultimately ensure that we have a high-quality, consistent service for pets when their owners choose to ship them with Delta Cargo.”

Pets that are transported via Delta Cargo are monitored closely by customer service teams during their travel. While at airports, pets are handled in temperature-controlled holding areas and vans. Also, Delta Cargo enlists professional kenneling services if overnight stays are required.

With the change effective March 1, customers will be able to travel with a pet as checked baggage through Feb. 29. Also, Delta will contact customers with bookings after March 1 that are known to include pets as checked bags.

Guidance for customers traveling with pets can be found at delta.com, but customers choosing to ship a pet with Delta Cargo should note that:

— A separate booking from their flight itinerary is required.  Additional fees and charges may apply.

— A pet shipped domestically via Delta Cargo cannot be booked until 14 days prior to departure.

— Pets are not guaranteed to be shipped on a customer’s same flight or flight schedule.

— Shipping a pet requires dropping it off at a Delta Cargo location at least three hours before departure time at a location separate from passenger check-in.

— Picking up a pet will also occur at a Delta Cargo location.

— Delta Cargo will only accept international pet shipments from International Pet and Animal Transportation Association members. International customers should visit ipata.org to find an approved member to assist with their transportation requirements.

A member of the Foreign Service who spoke with Delta multiple times including a supervisor was told the airline will NOT extend the exception to Foreign Service or any other USG employees, only to active duty military members on orders. We’ve verified with Delta, see below:

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The Fly America Act, 49 U.S.C. App. 1517, as implemented in the Comptroller General’s guidelines, Decision B-138942, March 31, 1981, requires Federal employees and their dependents, consultants, contractors, grantees, and others performing United States Government financed foreign air travel to travel by U.S. flag air carriers.

As of this writing United and American Airlines still allow travel with pet as checked baggage. Plan ahead!

UnitedU.S. military and State Department pet exceptions | Select military and government personnel and their dependents may transport their pet dog or cat as checked baggage when they are traveling on official orders.

American Airlines: Traveling With Pets

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