Airline junk fees come in all shapes and sizes, but this one may rank among the most bizarre. It comes to us by way of Andrea Hogan, who recently flew from Kauai to Dallas on Hawaiian Airlines.
“My eight-year old daughter and I had seats in first class, while my other two sons, ages 10 and 12, were in coach” she says. “My boys’ seats were literally four rows away from mine with absolutely nothing dividing their seats from mine.”
A Hawaiian gate agent told her it didn’t matter. She had to pay a $100 “unaccompanied minor” fee.
Hawaiian insisted she pay more, even though she could see and supervise her boys.
Sure enough, that’s Hawaiian’s policy.
Your child is an unaccompanied minor if he or she is:
5 to 11 years old, and traveling without a companion on the same domestic flight and in the same compartment who is 15 years of age or older, or traveling without a companion on the same international flight and in the same compartment who is 18 years of age or older.
So, no dividing the family between first and economy class.
On one level, that’s an understandable policy. No one wants someone else’s little keikis running around the main cabin and causing a ruckus. But what if there’s no real partition between classes, and the parent can see their offspring? In other words, what if they are supervised?
“When the agent at the American check-in desk saw that I had paid an unaccompanied minor fee to Hawaiian she was shocked and said she had never heard of such a thing as having a parent on the same flight being forced to pay that fee,” she says.
So Hogan did what any self-respecting passenger would do in that situation: She complained.
Here’s what she wrote:
I was made to pay an unaccompanied minor fee for my child even though I was on the same flight. I was in seat 1A and he was in 12 A. There were 3 rows of first class and then his row was the 2nd row of coach directly behind first class. There was no divider between the cabins.
I do not feel your airline was just in charging me the $100 fee.
I have attached a picture of my child in the seat to show how close of contact I had during the entire flight. Please let me know what you can do to resolve this for me.
Here’s the response:
We’re sorry for any misunderstanding about our Unaccompanied Minor fees and when it would apply.
Although I understand you were on the same aircraft, since your child was seated in a different class/compartment (First Class vs. Coach Class), the Unaccompanied Minor fee would need to be assessed.
A child is considered an Unaccompanied Minor when he/she is not traveling with a companion on the same domestic flight, in the same compartment. Again, we apologize for any confusion regarding this policy.
As a “gesture of goodwill,” the airline offered her a $50 ticket credit.