Can a 17-year-old fly alone without parents’ permission?

May 31, 2022

Are you a minor? Are you wondering, “can a 17-year-old fly alone without parents’ permission”? 

This blog gives a gist about child travel consent forms, travel consent forms, and travel authorization. 

Introduction to ‘can a 17 year old fly alone without parents’ permission?’

The definition of minor children and minor adults across the US is that anyone who has not attained 18 years of age is classified as a minor. Below 5 years come under one category and 5 to 14 come in the second category and 15 to 17 come under the third category. 

The third category is minor adults. 18 and above are categorized as adults. However, the first two categories, that are below 15 years are not allowed to travel unaccompanied in both domestic and international travel without proper documentation like a Parent Consent form / child travel consent form duly filled and notarized by authorized personnel for legal purposes. 

In general terms, all domestic carriers that operate in the US levy surcharges/ fee for unaccompanied minors. And some international carriers charge fees for personnel who come under the category of minor adults when they travel unaccompanied. (1) 

All you need to know about travel authorization

Before you see a sample letter of consent to travel with one parent, understand the travel authorization legalities. Federal law states that all the categories of minors (meaning who are under the age of 18) need to have documentation done when they travel unaccompanied and even when they travel with one of their parents. 

This basic documentation requirement is the parent consent form / child travel consent form which is duly filled and endorsed with the signatures of both the parents or legal guardian(s). This child travel consent form might be required to be endorsed by a notary too towards the verification of the contents. (2) 

However, there is a bit of leniency for the third category minors (who come under the age group of 15 to 18 years of age). They are allowed by the domestic carriers to travel alone with their id-proof without the demand of a child travel consent form – so, can a 17 year old fly alone without parents’ permission? Yes. 

TSA (Transport Security Administration) who is incharge of the travel authorization, may not question the domestic carriers on this allowance. Some airlines may levy fees/ surcharges on unaccompanied minor travelers up to age 17. It is always advisable to verify with airlines and go thru particular airlines’ policy rulebook before booking the ticket. It is also advisable to verify the destination airport policy rulebook in the case of international travel as many European countries have different rulesets for unaccompanied minor travelers. 

More on ‘can a 17 year old fly alone without parents’ permission?’

Unaccompanied minors’ travel in aircraft could become more challenging and riskier too in many scenarios. For example, when we talk about travel authorization – we don’t think about flight delays/ cancellations and thereby missing a connecting flight. Parents/ legal guardians need to examine the needs of making the minor children travel alone with all due diligence processes done. 

A child travel consent form is just the beginning. Just in case a hotel stay is needed for a night due to reasons beyond control, the minors need to face it on their own when they travel alone.

There are many airlines that provide special perks for young travelers who travel alone with the proper requisite documentation. Airlines entertain by providing a complimentary snack; special boarding time (before boarding of other passengers) so that there would be settling time for the young travelers.

There are some airlines that allow unaccompanied minors to travel only to point-to-point direct destinations, and these airlines do not entertain unaccompanied minor services connecting to/from other airlines too. (3) 

a)  The important telephone numbers are to be written in a paper book. The telephone numbers stored in electronic gadgets/phones may not be helpful due to various operational scenarios. The phones need to be fully charged.

b)  To keep the minors informed about legitimate and uniformed security personnel to be approached in case of any support or help required and not to take support or help from strangers.

c)  The health and travel insurance need to be done for the minors and the paper copies need to be provided to the minors.

d)  The other documentation like passport, id-proof need to have backup copies stored in their travel bags. 

Though there are not nearly as many documentation procedures involved for the teen-minors to travel alone compared to younger children, it is always wiser to make the unaccompanied minor teens aware of the logistics, procedures, and processes of air travel. This will enable the teens to enjoy the travel without fear and hassles. (4) 

Click HERE to see a sample letter of consent to travel with one parent. 

Contact eSahayak to know more. 

If you would like to know more about ‘can a 17 year old fly alone without parents’ permission?’, travel consent form – contact eSahayak today.  

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