From 1st May 2018 British Airways will not permit anyone under the age of 14 to travel alone, although this applies only to new bookings made after May 1st.
In order for under 14-year-olds to travel they will need to be accompanied by someone aged 16 or over who must be on a linked booking. All bookings for under 16s will need to be made by telephone on BA’s premium-rate number, 0844 493 0787, (which costs 7pence per minute to call), and not on ba.com.
It should also be noted that BA stopped its “Skyflyer Solo” service in 2017, so now the only possibility for solo under-14 overseas students travelling back to school in the UK on British Airways is to link the booking to an over-16 traveller on the same flight.
Other major airlines haven’t yet followed BA’s lead – Cathay Pacific, a major carrier of overseas students to British boarding schools, provides an optional Unaccompanied Minor (UK) service to all under-18’s which is mandatory for all 12 and under travellers, although there is a USD100 charge for this. Virgin Atlantic charges UMs as a full adult fare, as does China Eastern and most other airlines.
All the major airlines have restrictions on their UM service, including the number of UMs allowed per flight, so linked bookings are a great way of ensuring an easier trip.
Airport Guardians is a travel-day service for all travelling students to and from Heathrow Airport. It is part of GTMatrix, a student logistics company that organises transport for overseas students in the UK. Airport Guardians is available to all UK boarding schools and can be contacted on 020 3355 2858.
GTMatrix is available to help and advise schools in the same area to coordinate a “Travel Buddy” system, as well as organising student transport. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.