Unaccompanied Minors and children flying alone
Booking Unaccompanied Minor reservations
There are three ways to book a flight for children ages five through 11 who will be traveling unaccompanied:
- Online at Southwest.com®: After you enter your child’s passenger information and proceed to check out, you will be asked whether they’ll be traveling with someone over the age of 12. If not, they’re considered an Unaccompanied Minor.
- At our airport ticket counter or by phone: If you book your child's travel over the phone or at the airport, tell the Customer Representative that the child on the reservation is an Unaccompanied Minor and provide the child's age.
When you make a reservation for an Unaccompanied Minor, you will be required to fill out the necessary travel document and pay an Unaccompanied Minor service charge.
Once the UM reservation is complete, you will need to provide the confirmation number to the person designated to pick up or drop off the child.
Yes, the Unaccompanied Minor charge is refundable if:
- You cancel your reservation, and your Unaccompanied Minor does not travel,
- Your flight is canceled, and you choose not to rebook,
- Your child is joined by an accompanying Passenger aged 12 or older and is no longer an Unaccompanied Minor.
Two UMs may travel together on the same reservation, but you will have to pay $50 each way for each UM to travel.
The Unaccompanied Minor paperwork requires information about your child, the person(s) picking up your child at their destination, and the person dropping off the child, including:
- Phone number (including area code)
- Name, relationship, and phone numbers of an alternate contact
The paperwork must be fully complete for your child for travel. You may also need to provide proof of the child's age.
- Advise them that they will need to greet the child at the flight's assigned arrival gate.
- Have them follow the Suggested Airport Arrival Times to allow sufficient time to obtain an escort pass from the ticket counter.
- They must have a valid photo ID and a copy of the child's itinerary to get an escort pass to get through the security checkpoint and meet the child at the gate.
No. Our Unaccompanied Minor program is only for children ages five through 11 years old.
Children 12 and older are allowed to travel independently. However, you should decide whether your Young Traveler is capable of and comfortable with:
- Navigating all airports
- Going through the check-in and boarding processes
- Following Crew Members' instructions
- Dealing with possible flight disruptions
If not, we strongly discourage allowing these Young Travelers to fly alone.
Yes, your child can travel unaccompanied on a reservation made using Rapid Rewards points. You still have to pay the $50 each-way service charge.
No, we don’t allow Unaccompanied Minors to travel on connecting flights. Make sure the child's reservation is on a nonstop flight or a flight that makes a stop but does not require a change of planes.
Unaccompanied Minors: preparing for travel
- Make copies of your child’s itinerary for both the child and whoever’s picking them up in the destination city.
- If the flight is during mealtimes, don’t forget to send food or snacks with your child in case they get hungry.
- Download the Southwest app so you can monitor your child’s flight status.
- Charge your child’s electronic device(s) before leaving for the airport—we don’t have outlets onboard.
- Provide your child with the contact information for whoever’s picking them up.
- For additional information about what to expect when a child travels alone, please review "When Kids Fly Alone," published by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Unaccompanied Minors: airport arrival
Arrive at the airport early. Review our Suggested Airport Arrival Times. Be sure to allow enough time to park the car, obtain your escort pass and the child's UM lanyard at the ticket counter, go through security, and check in at the gate.
When you arrive at the airport, you must check in at the ticket counter in the main lobby of the airport to:
- Check luggage (if applicable; standard rules and regulations for checking luggage apply)
- Provide the required Unaccompanied Minor documentation
- Pay the $50 each-way service charge (credit cards accepted only)
- Get the child's boarding pass and UM lanyard
- Get your escort pass so you can accompany the child through the security checkpoint and to the gate
You need an escort pass to take your child through security. At the ticket counter, please provide a valid form of identification and a copy of your child's itinerary and request an escort pass that will allow you to pass through security.
- Arrive at the gate no less than 45 minutes prior to the flight's scheduled departure time. Check in with an Employee at the gate and advise them that you are dropping off a UM.
- Give the Agent the completed UM paperwork. Make sure that the information on the UM paperwork—including flight number and destination airport—matches that shown on the UM's itinerary.
- The Unaccompanied Minor form will be inserted in the Unaccompanied Minor lanyard and must be worn by the child for the duration of the flight. The lanyard is required as it allows Employees to easily identify UMs.
- Your child will be escorted onto the aircraft by an Employee before general boarding begins and will be introduced to the Flight Attendant as an Unaccompanied Minor.
- You must stay in the gate area until the child’s flight is in the air—we’ll let you know when you can leave the boarding area.
- Call the parent/guardian picking up the child to let them know that the flight has departed.
Unaccompanied Minor children who arrive at the departure gate after boarding has begun will be escorted onto the aircraft after all other Customers have boarded or in between boarding groups. This allows our personnel to properly identify the UM to the Flight Attendant who will be responsible for the child's care during flight.
Unaccompanied Minors: in the air
- A Flight Attendant will check on the child periodically, as duties allow, but will not continuously monitor the child throughout the flight.
- The child is required to always wear the UM lanyard around their neck.
- The child must follow instructions given by Employees, including wearing a seatbelt.
- Make sure that you and the parent/guardian picking up the child are available to answer phone calls during the flight time in the event of a flight irregularity.
- The child will be escorted off the plane and taken to meet the parent/guardian at the destination.
Unaccompanied Minors: airport pickup
Check Southwest.com for the Suggested Airport Arrival Times at the child's arrival city. Arriving at this time will give you time to get your escort pass at the ticket counter and proceed through the security checkpoint to greet the child in their flight's gate area. Arrive at the gate no less than 45 minutes prior to the flight's scheduled arrival time. Check in with an Employee at the gate and let them know you’re picking up an Unaccompanied Minor.
Stop at the ticket counter to obtain an escort pass that will allow you to go through the security checkpoint. A valid photo ID and a copy of your child's itinerary are required to obtain an escort pass.
Unaccompanied children will be escorted from the aircraft by a uniformed Employee and released only to the person (or alternate contact) named on the Unaccompanied Minor form or another designated Employee. The person named on the Unaccompanied Minor form must show valid photo identification and sign a release.
In some cases, there may be a brief wait in receiving the child if personnel are engaged in the release of other unaccompanied children or the departure of another aircraft.
Unaccompanied Minor terms and conditions
- Children ages five through 11 traveling without an accompanying Passenger aged 12 or older must travel as Unaccompanied Minors (UMs) on Southwest Airlines.
- Unaccompanied Minors are not monitored continuously throughout the travel. Only children with sufficient maturity to travel with limited adult supervision may travel as an Unaccompanied Minor on Southwest Airlines.
- Southwest Airlines will charge $50 each way ($100 round trip) in addition to the air fare per child for Unaccompanied Minors to travel.
- Unaccompanied Minor charges are refundable. If you cancel your reservation and your Unaccompanied Minor does not travel, if your flight is canceled and you choose not to rebook, or if the child is joined by an accompanying passenger age 12 or older and is no longer an Unaccompanied Minor, contact Southwest at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) or visit the airport ticket counter to process your refund.
- Purchaser represents that they are either the parent or guardian of the minor child or has authority to act on behalf of the parent or guardian.
- All required information in this booking process must be completed and accurate in order to facilitate the transfer of the Unaccompanied Minor between designated parties.
- Southwest Airlines reserves the right not to transport Unaccompanied Minors on flights that may be diverted or cancelled due to weather or other operational disruptions.
- Proof of age in the form of a birth certificate or other form of valid identification for the child is required upon check-in at the ticket counter in order to travel as an Unaccompanied Minor.
- A parent or guardian must be present and show a valid government-issued photo ID to a Southwest Representative when checking in or picking up an Unaccompanied Minor.
- Unaccompanied Minors are allowed to travel on only nonstop or same-plane service (makes one or two stops but does not require a change of planes or flight number).
- Southwest Airlines does not provide Unaccompanied Minor service to/from international destinations.
- Additional Unaccompanied Minor info for travel to Hawaii: Flights between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii are subject to specific procedures for transportation of animals and plants, inspection of checked and carryon baggage, and State of Hawaii documentation requirements. The parent/guardian of an Unaccompanied Minor (UM) or Young Traveler (YT) must complete the Plants and Animals Declaration Form at the departure gate prior to the UM or YT boarding the aircraft. Once completed, the form will be placed in the front pocket of the UM lanyard or retained by the YT until it is collected during the flight prior to landing, as applicable.
- A parent or guardian must escort an Unaccompanied Minor to the departure gate 45 minutes before scheduled departure and must remain in the gate area until the flight is in the air.
- Prior to departure, a designated Southwest Representative will announce preboarding for Unaccompanied Minors. It is the responsibility of the drop-off parent/guardian to present the Unaccompanied Minor as directed in order to board the flight.
- Once seated, a Flight Attendant will visually observe and/or communicate with an Unaccompanied Minor periodically as other duties allow, but Unaccompanied Minors are not monitored continuously throughout the flight.
- Southwest Airlines personnel will not take Unaccompanied Minors out of the airport before or after their designated flight departs/arrives.
- Southwest Airlines does not assume responsibility for an Unaccompanied Minor's actions. THE PURCHASER AGREES TO INDEMNIFY, HOLD HARMLESS, AND FULLY RELEASE SOUTHWEST AIRLINES FOR ANY AND ALL INJURY OR DAMAGES TO PROPERTY OR PERSONS CAUSED BY OR INCURRED AS A RESULT OF AN UNACCOMPANIED MINOR'S ACTIONS, INCLUDING INJURIES TO THE UNACCOMPANIED MINOR CAUSED BY HIS OR HER OWN NEGLIGENCE.
- Parents and guardians picking up an Unaccompanied Minor should be at the gate 45 minutes prior to scheduled arrival and present a valid government-issued photo ID to the designated Southwest Representative to facilitate the transfer of the Unaccompanied Minor between the designated parties.
- Southwest will not release an Unaccompanied Minor to anyone other than the designated parent or guardian. It is the parent's/guardian's responsibility to ensure changes of the designated pick-up parent/guardian are arranged with a Southwest Representative at a Southwest Airlines ticket counter prior to the child's arrival.
- Should the Unaccompanied Minor's travel be disrupted or should the person(s) designated fail to meet the Unaccompanied Minor upon arrival at the destination airport, Southwest Airlines is authorized to take whatever action is reasonable and necessary under the circumstances. The parent or guardian agrees to reimburse Southwest Airlines for its expenses incurred in taking such action.
- If these Terms and Conditions are not met, Southwest Airlines reserves the right not to provide travel to the Unaccompanied Minor.