Flybe customers buying a ticket for a child travelling on their own will have to pay an extra £79 each way, after the airline doubled the cost of its 'unaccompanied minor' fee without any warning.

The airline previously charged a £39 supervisory fee for each unaccompanied child on each leg of the journey, on top of the standard ticket price, but this was increased without warning to £79 on 2 January.

If you booked tickets before the price increase for an unaccompanied minor to fly after 2 January, you won't have to pay any extra.

See our MSE Cheap Flights guide for tips on how to save while travelling.

What is the £79 supervisory fee for?

According to Flybe's rules any child, aged between five and 12, travelling without an adult is classed as an unaccompanied minor, and so their parents or guardian must use the Flybe service.

As part of the service, the unaccompanied child will be supervised by an adult from departures to arrivals. Each child also gets a 23kg luggage allowance (which usually costs at least £24), and a drink and snack onboard the plane. This will remain the same now the fee has increased to £79.

The service is only available on direct Flybe flights, which operate throughout Europe, and cannot be used if the child is transferring onto another airline.

Customers can also pay the £79 fee for a child aged between 12 and 16 to travel as an unaccompanied minor, but this is not compulsory.

'Not great for a dad flying his children to see them 10 times a year'

MoneySaver Julie Fisher uses Flybe's unaccompanied minor service when her two grandchildren, who live in England, visit her in Northern Ireland.

She said: "To put the price up to £79 per child is extortionate considering the return flight at the time for one child was £84."

She claims flights for her grandchildren will now cost more than £600, adding: "This has now made it virtually impossible for me to pay every holiday to get them over to Northern Ireland."

Graeme Bell uses the service for his son, who lives in England, to visit him in Scotland. He said: "I was totally gobsmacked to discover that this service has now increased to £79 each way, a staggering 103% increase – this surely is totally unacceptable. It will limit the amount of visits my son can make."

Other customers were also unhappy with the price change:

What does Flybe say?

A spokesperson said: "Flybe is one of the few airlines continuing to offer an unaccompanied minor service. To date, Flybe has absorbed the ever increasing costs associated with continuing to provide an unaccompanied minor service for the convenience of its customers.

"However, increased legislation and the requirement to evidence and comply with the necessary levels of safety, protection and scrutiny relating to the carriage of such passengers means that Flybe can no longer offer to accommodate unaccompanied minors without increasing the associated service charge."

How much do other airlines charge for unaccompanied minors?

Each airline has its own rules on unaccompanied minors:

  • Easyjet, Jet2, British Airways, Ryanair and TUI – Don't allow unaccompanied children on their flights at all.
  • KLM – Charges £100 each way on most European flights, and £150 each way on most intercontinental flights - on top of a full price adult ticket. For certain routes, the charge can be as much as £300.
  • Virgin Atlantic and Emirates – Don't charge a separate fee for their unaccompanied minor service, but the child must have a full rate adult ticket rather than the cheaper child fare.