British Airways Makes It Even Harder For Minors To Travel Alone

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Back in February 2016 British Airways announced that it was scrapping the “Skyflyer Solo” program which was the airline’s name for its unaccompanied minor service. At the time the airline blamed a decline in demand for the closure of the service (which was nonsense) but confirmed that it would continue to take bookings for 12 – 18 year-olds “who wish to fly independently

Now, as we approach the 2 year anniversary of the scrapping of the Skyflyer Solo program, British Airways has announced that it’s about to make another parent-unfriendly change.

a sign in a airport

Here’s the latest announcement from BA:

As part of British Airways’ commitment to child safeguarding, from 1 May 2018, the minimum age of a person permitted to travel alone on British Airways will increase from 12 to 14 years of age. This applies to all new bookings made from this date. We will continue to permit children under the age of 14 to travel accompanied (with someone aged 16 or older on the same or a linked booking) and bookings made prior to this date will be unaffected.

I’m not sure how increasing the age limit for solo travel has anything to do with a “commitment to child safeguarding” so I’m just going to put this excuse down to yet more nonsense coming out of Waterside.

a group of stuffed animals on a bed

Not satisfied with increasing the age at which minors can travel alone, the airline is also introducing more paperwork:

[All] customers under 16 and travelling alone from 1 May 2018 (including for bookings made prior to this date) should have a completed parental/guardian consent form prior to travel. The form will be available on from early April 2018. Parents/guardians will need to download, print and complete the form prior to travel. The young flyer must ensure they bring the form with them and carry it at all times during their trip. British Airways requires this consent form in order to provide the young flyer with the help and care they may need during unexpected disruption.

I can’t see this second requirement being particularly onerous but, as it applies to all bookings for those under 16 (including those made before this announcement), I hope British Airways does a good job of updating parents whose children already have reservations.

There are two things that annoy me here:

  1. This is yet another unfriendly move by BA and I can’t see the reasoning. Then again I couldn’t see the reasoning behind the closure of the Skyflyer Solo program either so I’m clearly not very good at working out how the airline hierarchy thinks.
  2. Using the airline’s “commitment to child safeguarding” as an excuse for the latest rule-change is pathetic – if the airline really cared about child safeguarding it wouldn’t have closed down the Skyflyer Solo program in the first place!

a close up of a paper

Bottom Line

Expats sending their children back to the UK are going to be the people hit hardest here and who will have to look to make alternative arrangements going forward.

I can’t see how this can be a sensible business decision for BA as, if I was a parent who found himself inconvenienced by this (and the closure of the Skyflyer Solo program), I’d go out of my way to make sure that my family and I avoided flying with BA whenever possible – this doesn’t make for good PR.

Still, no doubt the bean counters over at BA towers think they know what they’re doing and, as they have shown little sign of caring what flyers think so far, I guess we shouldn’t expect any more of them now.