Skip to Content

12 Is Old Enough to Fly as an Adult?

Today I used some miles to get my 12-year-old a one-way ticket from Chicago to San Francisco. She’ll be flying out to the Midwest with her grandparents, but needs to return home alone. In the past when she flew as an “unaccompanied minor,” I had to pay the airline an extra $100 per flight for them to keep an eye on her. I was resigned to ponying up this time, but it turned out I didn’t have to.

The Virgin customer service agent kindly explained to me that they considered a 12-year-old an “adult,” so she could fly for the regular price — in this case, about 9,000 miles plus $5 and change. This also means that she can go through security and wait at the gate on her own; although if she wants an escort, friends tell me an adult can get a pass to go along with her to the gate.

I have never flown Virgin before, by the way. So where did I get 9,000 Virgin America miles? I signed up for a Virgin Elevate account, then set up Virgin as a transfer partner on the Chase rewards center, and transferred 18,000 of my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my new Virgin account. The transfer happened instantly, and then I was able to book the flight.

I got those points from applying for several Chase cards in the past year, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred,* and getting 50,000-point bonuses for each. Sadly, I’m almost out of Chase points, and I won’t be able to earn many more for a couple of years because of their 24/5 rule.

* Referral link: If you sign up through me, I’ll get a 5,000 point bonus.