When Your Child Needs to Fly Internationally with Non-Family

Young girl looking out of a plane window.
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There are a few procedures that are always good to follow in a case where a child (minor) is traveling with a non-family member.

  • Have the non-family member book their ticket and get their confirmation number.
  • Avoid an airline's website and call directly to book the child's flight. 
  • Give the agent the non-family member's confirmation code.
  • The customer service agent will add comments in the child's passenger number locator (PNL) so that the airline's gate agents are aware (and add an APFAX - this is info that appears for airport agents once she is checked in).
  • Go to your lawyer or notary public and get a document signed by the child's parent or guardian giving permission to the non-family member to fly with the child. The letter should also include details like where the child is traveling to and contact information for parents and guardians on both ends of the trip. Make sure the child is carrying the letter onboard the plane in case a crew member asks for it.   They may not be asked to present it, but it is always good to have.

    Adults traveling with children should also be aware that while the U.S. does not require this documentation, other countries do. Those who fail to produce notarized/legal permission letters and/or birth certificates could result in travelers being refused entry. Click here for a list of documents required for international travel.

    It's good that your child won't have to travel alone, but you still need to make sure that they have everything they need on the trip. Have a carry-on bag packed to keep them comfortable and amused, especially if there's a flight delay. The bag should include an empty water bottle (in case they get thirsty on the flight and don't want to keep getting up), some non-perishable snacks, items for their comfort (neck pillow, eye mask, headphones/earbuds and socks), a tablet loaded with games and movies, a smartphone/tablet battery charger, hand sanitizer and lip balm.