Rules for children flying alone on Etihad in and out of Abu Dhabi
Are you looking at sending your kids to Abu Dhabi to stay with relatives, or perhaps you live in Abu Dhabi and want the kids to go home to their families over the school holidays?
Whatever your reasons and needs for sending children alone on a flight, we know it can be daunting for both you and your child(ren).
But we have been there ourselves, needing to make these choices and putting our faith in Etihad to deliver our children to their destination. We’re going to share with you exactly how the Etihad Unaccompanied Minor system works.
Who Can Fly as an Unaccompanied Minor With Etihad?
Let’s look at this by age group:
- Children aged 5 to 11 years old can use the service for free, but they must be booked on a normal adult fare and have prebooked the service.
- Children aged 12 to 17 years old are already on a full adult fare, but are permitted to be escorted as an unaccompanied minor, for an additional fee.
- Children 0 to 4 years old cannot fly as unaccompanied minors; they can only travel without their parents if they travel with another adult, classified as a person over 18 years old.
- If you want to sit in Business/First and leave the kids back in economy on their own (hey, no judgment here!), then you need to pay full fare for a child 5-11 years old, and they will be treated as unaccompanied minors.
What Are the Steps to Book Etihad Unaccompanied Minor?
- Book your child’s ticket first – online or with an Etihad ticketing office – taking note of the booking reference number.
- Complete the unaccompanied minors service request form online.
- The airline will be in touch within 24 hours to process your request.
- If your child is aged 12-17 years old, the airline will at this point collect the unaccompanied minor fee. This costs $100 USD for direct flights and $150 USD for flights with connections.
- If you originally booked them as kids (5-11 years old), you will be asked to pay the ticket upgrade to a full adult fare, but there’s no additonal fee for the unaccompanied minor service.
- Once everything is paid or agreed upon, print out and sign the form; remember to bring this with you to the airport.
NB: You need to book the service at least 24 hours in advance with either the Global Contact Centre or your local Etihad ticketing office.
Some fine print to also be aware of:
- You can only use the unaccompanied minors service for young passengers when it’s an Etihad-operated flight all the way through; this includes any connections; if you need to transfer to a domestic service, the child must be collected at the airport the Etihad flight arrives into before continuing their journey onward.
- If their connection is through AUH, the connection time must be no more than 8 hours. They will have access to the unaccompanied minors lounge whilst in AUH.
- If you have children in both the 5-11 and 12-17 age group, you will need to pay the unaccompanied minor fee if you’d like the kids to stick together; a 12-17-year-old cannot be the younger one’s guardian.
- Once they Young Persons fee is paid for 12-17 year olds, it is non-refundable should your plans change.
- If your child has special needs such as toileting issues, requires medications or assistance with feeding, they will not be eligible for the unaccompanied minors service.
- Etihad may request additional documentation if your child is flying in/out of a country with different laws on unaccompanied minors. You’ll be advised of this after completing the service request form.
- If the pick up contact details change before departure, this can be done through Manage my Booking on the Etihad website. You cannot change the contact details after the journey has commenced.
What Happens With Unaccompanied Minors on Etihad?
Leaving from Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), you can check your child in at any of the Etihad counters (presently, this is Terminal 3). You will need to arrive at least 2 hours before your flight.
You will need to bring with you all the necessary documents for your child to fly, including the child’s passport, any necessary visas and health documents, if applicable. Also, bring with you a printed copy of your completed unaccompanied minors form.
The staff will print out boarding passes and tag their baggage; at this point, they will retain your child’s passport and boarding passes and keep them in a labelled document wallet (siblings are kept together).
It’s time to say your goodbyes, and Etihad takes over for the rest of their journey. Staff will be accompany them through immigration and take them to the unaccompanied minors lounge if they are departing from AUH (the process will likely differ at other international airports).
Once their flight is boarding, they will be collected from the lounge by a crew member and taken to their specific flight, where a crew member takes possession of their documentation and will be responsible for them throughout the flight.
The unaccompanied minor children are given pre-boarding. Unless you’ve already preselected your kids’ seats through “Manage My Booking”, the airline will try to place them on their own or with a gap between other passengers, but be aware on full flights, it’s not always possible.
Children will be offered age-appropriate kids activity packs and given any assistance in setting up their seats and entertainment system once they board the flight.
The parents/guardians leaving the child must remain at the airport until the flight has departed.
Once the flight has taken off, I highly recommend nervous parents download Flightradar24 Flight Tracker on your phone (Google Play | App Store) so you can track exactly where their flight is up to for your peace of mind!
Landing Process For Unaccompanied Minors
The crew supports children throughout the landing process. They will likely need to wait until last to disembark with a crew member carrying all their documentation and seeing them through passport control and baggage collection.
The parent should fill out any landing documents they need before landing and this will come with the crew member in charge in an envelope along with their passports – if you can’t access or don’t fill in a landing card for airports that require this, this can be time-consuming and difficult for the staff as they’ll need to pry the answers out of your no doubt nervous child! If your child takes longer than expected to come out the other end, this is likely why.
After your kid(s) have their baggage, the Etihad crew member will see them through to arrivals, where the responsible guardian at the other end will sign off that they have taken custody of the child.
Make sure the collecting adult/guardian has photo identification with them!
What About Other UAE Airlines?
Air Arabia and Fly Dubai do not allow unaccompanied minors under the age of 12 unless they are accompanied by another passenger who is at least 16 years old.
Click over here to learn more about Emirates Unaccompanied Minor Policy, detailing step-by-step exactly how their proceeds works (it’s very similar to Etihad, though their ‘young person’ age limit is 12-15 years old, and they only charge USD 50 per leg to use this service).
We have heard of Travel Consent Forms being required in the UAE, but honestly, there is no set legal document in the UAE, just the documentation requested by your airline.
We hope this guide has set your mind at ease on what exactly happens when your child or children are sent on an Ethihad flight as unaccompanied minors. It’s no doubt an exciting but equally scary adventure for you all!
Before you go… Important things to consider when planning a trip to Abu Dhabi
- Pop into our essential planning information page; it includes everything you need to know about getting around Abu Dhabi, a handy guide on what to pack and top tips for first-timers on the dos and don’ts, laws, and customs in the UAE.
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!
- Discover the best places to stay in Abu Dhabi, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our hotel or tour recommendation links.Abu Dhabi Travel Planner