Southwest Airlines Co. has announced that parents of minors traveling alone will have to pay $50 to fly their children in the airline’s “unnaccompanied minors” program. That is up from the previous price of $25 per child.
Southwest plans to use funds generated from the added cost to help pay for expenses associated with caring for an unaccompanied minor.
In addition, the Dallas-based airline has plans to roll out a section on its website where parents can book their unaccompanied minors online. This is intended to save parents time by eliminating paperwork at the airport. The online service will be available April 23.
“We continuously evaluate our UM process to ensure that we deliver the best possible service to our young customers who are traveling alone,” said Teresa Laraba, Southwest’s senior vice president of customer services. “During a recent audit, we identified several opportunities, including the creation of an online booking tool for UMs and an enhancement in the employee training that comes along with handling our young passengers who are flying solo.”
Unaccompanied minors on Southwest flights are children ages five to 11 who are traveling without an adult passenger.
In other Southwest news, the airline said it has terminated its codeshare agreement with WestJet, nixing a deal that had promised Southwest its first taste of international business.
If the agreement had withstood the test of time, it would have landed Southwest a link to international status by connecting the airline’s service to WestJet flights heading to Canada.
DIA low-fare competitor Frontier Airlines offers service to Mexico and Costa Rica.
Southwest said WestJet had asked to modify its initial 2008 agreement with Southwest, and the airline could not “agree with the modifications to the confidential agreement.”
The Southwest-WestJet deal went sour earlier this month when WestJet announced it could be entering into a codeshare agreement with Delta Air Lines. At the time, Southwest sounded the alarm, saying it had heard that Delta, as part of the deal, might transfer slots at New York’s LaGuardia to WestJet.
Southwest indicated that an agreement with another carrier could hurt the deal Southwest and WestJet had in place.
“We prefer the existing terms of our agreement with WestJet,” said Southwest’s executive vice president of strategy and planning Bob Jordan. “Upon reviewing the number of changes that WestJet has requested, we have decided that it is in the best interest of both parties to move forward independently.”
Southwest added it’s still interested in exploring opportunities to enter into the Canadian market, adding that partnerships with other Canadian carriers remain a possibility.