Emirates Unaccompanied Minors: Exactly How it Works


The rules for children flying alone on Emirates Airline flights in and out of Dubai

Are you looking at sending your kids to Dubai to stay with relatives, or perhaps you live in Dubai and want the kids to go home to their family over the summer?

Whatever your reasons and needs for sending children alone on a flight, we know it can be a daunting prospect for both you and your child(ren).

But we have been there ourselves, needing to make these choices and putting our faith in Emirates Airlines to deliver our precious cargo. We can safely tell you from our own experience that it’s been a resounding success.

We have spoken to our fellow expat mums, too, who have sent kids to and from the UK, Australia, the USA and other countries in Europe, each with similar success stories to share. We’re going to share with you exactly how the Emirates Unaccompanied minor system works with real-life examples.

In this guide to Emirates Unaccompanied Minors, we’ll cover:

Who Can Fly as an Unaccompanied Minor With Emirates?

Let’s look at this by age group:

  • Children aged 5 to 11 years old. The child must pay for a full-price adult ticket, and then the service is included as complimentary.
  • You can still opt to use this service for a young person 12 to 15 years old. You have already paid for a full airfare from 12 years old; an additional fee (currently USD 50) is added to the ticket for each leg of your journey requiring the unaccompanied minor service – i.e. return trips USD 100.
  • Note that it is optional for a Young Person, classified as a 12-15-year-old, to use the service; if they are confident enough to navigate international airports on their own or travel with someone over 16, you can avoid paying the fee, but they won’t get any perks such as lounge access and priority boarding.
  • Under 5’s cannot fly as unaccompanied minors; they can only travel without their parents if they travel with another adult, classified as a person over 16 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 Emirates Unaccompanied Minor?

If you have booked your kids’ flights online, contact the airline afterwards to confirm that they will be unaccompanied minors:

  • If you originally booked them as kids (5-11 years old) and need to change to unaccompanied minors, be sure to contact Emirates in advance and pay the fare differential to an adult fare.
  • If they are a young person (12-15 years old) be sure to call or go to a service centre and pay the fee for young persons, it will NOT automatically be included when the ticket is booked.
  • There is, surprisingly, nothing else you need to do now until you get to the airport. They will be ready and waiting for you approximately 3 hours before your flight.

NB: You need to book the service any time from booking the ticket to 12 hours before departure (especially for 12-15 year olds); Don’t just turn up and expect to avail the service on the day; the airline has safety procedures to follow and are unlikely to accommodate last minute requests.

Find details of your nearest Emirates office here or you can also do this over live chat, which you’ll find on the Emirates website > Help and Contacts.

Some fine print to also be aware of:

  • You can only use the unaccompanied minors service for young passengers (5 to 15 years old) when it’s an Emirates-operated flight, i.e. no codeshares.
  • Maximum connection time, if required, is 4 hours, or 8 hours if the connection airport is DXB and they are boarding another Emirates flight.
  • If they are flying internationally with Emirates, then connecting to a domestic airline, the guardian would need to pick the child up from the airport where the Emirates flight ends.
  • If you have children in the 5-11 age group and 12-15, you will need to pay the young person fee if you’d like the kids to stick together; a 12-15-year-old cannot be classified as the younger ones guardian until they are over 16.
  • If you cancel your flight and have separately paid the young person fee already, you cannot get a refund, so be certain about your flying date before paying.

What Happens With Unaccompanied Minors on Emirates?

Leaving from Dubai International Airport (DXB), there is a separate check-in desk in Terminal 3 for unaccompanied minors (it sits between the main economy check-in and the Business/First check-in areas).

The unaccompanied minors lounge at DXB
Look for this check-in lounge if you’re departing from DXB – other countries may not have a dedicated check-in area

Parents or guardians will escort children to this separate check-in area and fill in declarations and any landing documentation that may be required. This is the point that you fill in the contact details for the adult collecting them.

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).

A declaration by parent/guardian for flying with emirates
an unaccompied minors documentation for flying with emirates without parents

NB, if they are not quite ready to begin their solo adventure, once they are all checked in, they can stay with you land side until approximately 90 minutes before the flight when they must return to the Unaccompanied Minor check-in area.

From here, all children travelling unaccompanied in that time slot will move together to passport control, each child/set of siblings with their own document wallets with the Emirates crew member.

At this point, it’s time to say your goodbyes, and Emirates takes over for the rest of their journey.

kids passing through passport control with emirates staff as unaccompanied minors
Unaccompanied minors will make their way through passport control with an Emirates crew member.

After passport control, they will get time to enjoy the unaccompanied minors lounge (mine always complain not long enough!). Much like the adult lounges at DXB, though they have video games, free wifi and snack options. (Note, if they started in a different airport and are stopping over during a meal time in DXB, they’ll be fed in the same lounge).

Once their flight is boarding, they will be collected from the lounge by a crew member from their specific flight and given priority boarding. They will be placed in a row that is close to airline staff. They will try place them on their own or with a gap between other passengers but be aware of full flights, it’s not always possible.

economy class cabin on an emirate A380

** Note that the parent/guardian, per their stated rules, must stay at the airport until the flight has departed (though ground staff have told us differently on two occasions now, that once they have cleared immigration, you are able to leave the airport; UAE residents, you will no doubt get the ‘ping’ on your mobile letting you know when this has happened if they’re under your sponsorship).

Once the flight has taken off, I highly recommend nervous parents you download Flightrada24 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!

Can I communicate with my child on board? Unless you want to invest in the expense and potential complications of your child attempting to use wifi on board, you won’t have any further communication with your child until they reach their guardians at the other end.

Landing Process For Unaccompanied Minors

Children are supported by crew throughout the landing process. They will likely need to wait until last to disembark with a crew member who will be carrying all their documentation and will see them through passport control and baggage collection.

Any landing documents you need should be filled out by the parent before landing and 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 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!

After they have their baggage, the 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!

Make sure they snap a photo of your solo voyagers and send it straight to you and they can go about their new adventure!

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 Etihad Airways’ unaccompanied minor policies for flights in and out of Abu Dhabi; they are very similar to Emirates, although they allow young persons up to 17 years of age – but they charge double!

We hope this will leave you feeling a little more confident about using the Emirates Unaccompanied Minors system. Will they arrive safely, yes! But will you miss them like crazy and cry as soon as they can’t see you (if not before?) Most likely!

Don’t worry parents, you’ve got this!

Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai

Take me back to the best Dubai travel advice

Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers 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 recommendation links.

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