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Happy child wearing headset inside Robinson R44 helicopter

Minimum age for helicopter ride

Most operators around the world allow for all ages to take a helicopter ride; not always the case so allow me to explain it in full.

No minimum age helicopter tourism operators are companies who fly the Airbus EC130 or AStar. Age depends on the helicopter in use, so taking a ride in a piston powered model has restrictions. Over 24 months will pay adult prices where a Lap Child can go for FREE - doors off policy allows for 12 years or up.

Its difficult to get a certain age requirement on a minimum for helicopter rides, as services follow strict government guidelines, to setting there own rules.

However, this is what I've learned in my time checking out all major helicopter operators in the USA - and they sure do have there benefits.

If taking a helicopter ride via Nevada to Las Vegas or over the Grand Canyon; the major players in the region all have no age restrictions.

That also goes for New York with helicopter companies setting a rule for a child to fly, but only at an adult price.

Silver lining to that is, if you want to bring a child under 2 years; they do qualify as what is known as a Lap Child - so if you don't mind them on your laps, they go for FREE.

When bringing a child along on a helicopter ride, remember this; they must wear a seat belt, headset and be well behaved at all times.

Often the opportunity for a doors off helicopter ride in Hawaii or New York is not to be missed, so bring a 12 year old along - with ID - to qualify.

No minimum age operators

If you're concerned if your toddler or young child will not be able to fly with you on an up and coming helicopter ride, there is only one thing you can do about it.

Simply fly with a helicopter ride operator who will permit a 'no minimum age' rule so all are welcomed, with no restrictions.

When taking a helicopter ride in the USA, its pretty much safe to say more often than not, most services allow all ages.

That can't be said for services who operators tours around the world as rules apply differently from country to country.

For example, a flight on one type of helicopter in the USA, is not allowed in the UK; its not a UK CAA rule - only that of the company.

If taking a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon out of Nevada in the USA; most operators fly a fleet of helicopters that allow all ages.

To name a handful: Papillon, Maverick Helicopter, Serenity Helicopters, Skyline Helicopter Tours and Sundance Helicopters permit all ages.

If flying a helicopter tour in Hawaii, top operators have a all age policy: including Papillon, Maverick, Blue Hawaiian, Hawaii Helicopters, Mauna Loa, Paradise and Safari.

That also goes for helicopter flights out of New York with operators including FlyNyon, HeliFlights, Liberty Helicopters and New York Helicopter allowing all ages.

Age depends on helicopter type

Saying all that, it really depends on the helicopter model in use or if the operator has a strict minimum age rule set or not.

What I can say for certain, those helicopter operators who have a fleet of big tourism helicopters, the design allows for all ages.

For example, the big, wide Airbus EC130 operated by Blue Hawaiian in Hawaii, with Maverick Helicopters or Papillon located in the Grand Canyon, operate such a model.

What that means is the design allows for a child of all ages to safely take a helicopter ride - that could be in there own seat or as a lap child.

Other types of helicopters that will see children fly with little in the way of restrictions, are that of the well known Airbus AS350, or what is known as the AStar.

Out of Nevada, Serenity and Sundance Helicopters operate the type, and so do Liberty Helicopters in New York.

One more tourist helicopter type that would operate a no minimum age rule is that of the beautiful Bell helicopters.

Namely, the popular JetRanger or her big sister the LongRanger; including the upgrade version of the Bell 407 - a personal favorite of mine

Where you might run into trouble well organising a helicopter ride with the kids involved, is if the Robinson R44 is in operation.

Unaccompanied minors

It really doesn't make sense for an adult to ride with a child as it can come at a great expense, so thankfully certain operators offer a unaccompanied minor rule.

What that means is a child - under 18 years in most cases - can fly alone, or with strangers, with there parent or legal guardian's consent.

All this will have to be arranged by the helicopter ride company in advanced to avoid trouble at departure once you've arrived.

So for that reason you must phone or email the company before ordering as to get there rule of unaccompanied children.

What you will find is all children under the age of 18 will need consent in the form of written permission.

However, if you find yourself not being allowed to fly your child under 18 years, there is a way around it.

Namely, calling up near by helicopter operators to simply flying with them instead.

So assuming most operate an under 18 years rule; others can and will allow children to fly without a parent with them.

For example, out of Nevada Sundance Helicopters have a rule that states: the minimum age for a person to fly unaccompanied is 15 years old.

Lap Child under 23 months

Only in the US and perhaps Canada does the rule of a Lap Child exist; so you're unlikely to see this rule anywhere else around the world.

So what is a lap child? To be precise, its a child under the age of 2 years, or 24 months who are allowed to fly on a parents lap in flight.

What that means for the parent is a saving of a full adult price; as all lap children fly for free, in most cases.

Rare as it is, but where a helicopter operator asks for payment at a reduced cost for a lap child - go one better by paying nothing for them by flying with a different operator.

How many helicopter ride services allow for a lap child is quite extensive; but you should contact them first thing to know if you can save money or get a lap child for free.

If taking a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon via Nevada for example; the lap child rule is widely available between all the operators in the region.

To qualify as a lap child you, or the parent will need to bring proof of the child's age, so a passport if you have one or perhaps a birth certificate.

Don't get court up in a lot of hassle if your child is under 2 years or older, as you could be confronted on the issue - so bring proof of age.

Where else a lap child will be granted or rejected is if the operator would ask for the weight of the child to be 25lbs to 40lbs, or else they will have to fly at cost, so find out in advance.

Dealing with procedures

Its fair to say children under the age of 2 years won't be able to follow safety procedures that is a legal requirement by everyone else.

So for that reason an unobedient child or one that could disrupt other passengers, so therefore the pilot too, will be rejected.

If you are bringing a child along - if its a lap child or are over 2 years - make sure they are well behaved, and for sure will get along riding in a helicopter.

In taking a child there is a few things that needs to be abided by at all times.

Know that all children will need to wear a noise canceling headset over there head, and over the ears.

Child of certain ages struggle to keep things on so you need to make sure its stays on at all times, as to protect there ears in flight, well they can be heard well spoken too.

Passengers riding the helicopter in the back will communicate through there headset and nothing else.

Whereas the pilot will need to speak to the whole helicopter if he or she needs to, so a random persons voice may be heard.

Knowing the child can deal with all that sort of thing, then you will have no trouble - and remember they will need to keep there seatbelt fastened at all times, no exceptions.

Doors Off requirement

When a child wishes to take an exciting doors off helicopter ride over New York City or widely available in Hawaii, they must be 12 years or older.

I've looked at many helicopter companies who operate a doors off service, with all saying the same thing - you must be 12 years or older to fly doors off.

This does not always apply to a child as adults can struggle to take a doors off helicopter ride, but if you're bringing a child along, know that they must follow orders.

The reason the age is set at 12 years or older is this is where the child can follow orders and understand a safety briefing.

Safety briefings for doors off helicopter rides will include the exiting of the helicopter, etc. but there are additional things to know.

For example, all passengers who take a doors off helicopter ride will need to wear a life jacket - so the 12 year old will need to know how it works.

In helicopter rides where a doors off policy requires being tethered, then the child will need to know how to cut themselves loose with a knife.

So there you have it, minimum age for a open doors helicopter ride is 12 years.

I have personally seen kids much younger than this take a open door helicopter ride in New York, so be sure to phone around and ask.

Full price for 2 years plus

If your child is 2 years or older, then they won't qualify for what is a free helicopter ride, so you will have to pay.

Don't try to get the free seat as more often than not, you'll need proof of age for the child as a legal requirement - which is also a requirement for all paying adults to bring along a photo ID or the order confirmation.

Unfortunately, if you have just about gone over the minimum age for a free helicopter ride for them, it means you have to pay a full adult price.

Never in the world of helicopter rides will you see costs of certain seats in the helicopter costing less or more, as a base price.

Its possible to request a window or front seat at cost, but in the end all passengers will sit where the operators requires them too.

I have seen a small number of helicopter operators offering a reduced price for children of a certain age, but over 2 years will always have to pay up.

In order to keep your costs at a reasonable price, perhaps your partner and a child or two - make it so its a cheap helicopter ride.

If you decide to fly at great expense per an adult price, then that price will be carried over for all kids that fly with you.


If you wish to bring your child along with you on a helicopter ride, then do so using big tourism helicopter services.

In that they fly the type of helicopter that has no age or weight restrictions so anyone can fly, including toddlers and babies.

However, the minimum age requirement will depend hugely on the helicopter in use and the operators own rules, so do contact them to verify there policy.

You don't have to book more than one ticket for a child if surprising them on there first helicopter flight.

Rules often laid out allow those 18 years or younger to fly under the unaccompanied minors rule.

That means this will save you money as only one booking is needed. Its not a rule for all operators but they will need written consent.

Under two years a child can be classed a Lap Child so will go FREE; whereas a day older then the child will have to pay a full adult price.

Doors off helicopter rides may want to be experienced by children so they will need to be 18 years plus - under most circumstances.

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