Every once in a while, it’s unfortunately necessary that an underage child fly solo. Naturally it would seem to be a daunting prospect for both child and parent/guardian. But it doesn’t have to be, because Iberia like many airlines offers a service for unaccompanied minors that cares for them every step of the way. For details, read on.
With a strict set of rules and regulations (which differ somewhat from airline to airline), this service for minors travelling by themselves offers security and peace of mind for all concerned. For starters, the child is accompanied at all times – in departure, arrival, and any connecting airports – by Iberia employees, either ground personnel or a member of the flight crew, up until he or she is collected by the family member or other individual authorised to do so.
On Iberia this service is available for children between five and 11 years old (though it may also be used for ages 12-17), and should be booked well in advance to ensure availability, as the number of unaccompanied minors permitted on a given flight is limited by law.
How Do I Request This Unaccompanied Minors Service?
This may be requested online or by telephone if doing so at least 72 hours in advance. If it’s more last-minute (meaning 24 hours or fewer), it needs to be on the phone or in person at the airport – again, keeping in mind that late-notice requests will be subject to availibility. One additional note: for departures from London Heathrow in particular, at least 48 hours’ notice is required.
What Papers Do I Need to Provide?
First off, a “discharge of responsibility”, which you may solicit in advance or at the airport right at least two hours before the flight. You will also need to make sure your child is carrying all proper identification along with a list of relevant contacts near both the departure and arrival airports.
How Early Should We Get to the Airport?
For domestic Spanish flights, you should arrive an hour ahead; for international, two hours (and ideally 2½ hours).
What Happens After Check-In?
The guardian and child need to proceed to the Punto de Atención al Menor (Unaccompanied Minors Meeting Point). At Madrid‘s Barajas airport this is located near check-in counter 850. Iberia agents will meet them there – and keep in mind that the adult dropping off the child will need to remain at the airport with him or her until at least a half hour before the flight departs; in some airports it’s also possible for the adult to accompany the child to the departure gate upon presentation of a valid passport or other identification.
It’s important that the child be dressed in comfortable clothes – if possible with minimal complicated features such as laced shoes, belts, suspenders, and so forth.
Try to check the child’s baggage, and if he or she will still be carrying a bag or backpack aboard, make it as simple and light as possible, and it’s always a good idea to include within it a book, toy, game, or other activity to provide him or her with entertainment during the flight.
Iberia loves children, and if they ever need to fly alone, we take excellent care of them! Fees for the airline’s unaccompanied minors service vary according to destination. More details: Iberia.com.