Airport Security with Children
I think it’s been a while since the heyday of travel – when hopping on a plane was an experience in itself. I know my mom always looked forward to being able to just sit for a few hours and have someone bring her a hot meal and a glass of wine (obviously I was older by this point!) while she thumbed a book or napped. Unless you’re flying first class or by private jet, it’s safe to say those days are long gone, and now the “fun” of air travel begins before you’ve even hit the departure lounge. Ah yes, I’m talking about going through security.
While we’re grateful for the extra precaution airports are taking to ensure our safety, it’s safe to say that that element of our travel day can be fairly unpleasant – especially if you’ve a troupe to look out for and a plane to catch. The next time you’re traveling en famille, try to remember the 3 Ps before you head to the airport, and hopefully you’ll all sail right through…
Have your travel-sized liquids in their 1 litre baggies already and keep them all together. Make sure you haven’t forgotten one of the thousands of bottles of hand-sanitizer you have stashed in your purse and various pockets. Babies (0-24 mos.) are allowed a reasonable amount of milk, breast milk, juice, formula, or baby food – and contrary to popular belief – you won’t have to taste it. Just make sure you keep it all in one bag and don’t use a gel-filled freezer pack to keep it cold. Those aren’t allowed. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) suggests using a small package of frozen peas in your insulated bag – great suggestion!
Everything you are traveling with will have to go through the X-Ray machine. Explaining that Dolly is going on a fun ride has never gone over well, but the tears are usually short-lived. The TSA (Transportation Security Administration in the USA) warns to make sure you take the infant out of the carrier before putting it through the machine. I’d snort but I think I do remember hearing about this happening some time ago. If your stroller won’t fit, you can usually wheel it through, but the Screening Officer will likely take it aside for a quick once over. If your child can’t walk, you’ll carry her through. If you beep, however, you’ll both likely have to have a secondary screening. We’ve almost always ended up having one, and in all cases the officers were respectful and considerate.
Arrive early. Have all your documents handy. Forgo fashion for shoes that you can slip on & off easily. Make sure your older kids haven’t packed toy guns or anything that remotely resembles a weapon of any kind. It’ll be taken.
Yes of course you’re nice and early and completely organized for your journey through airport security, but lots of people aren’t and lots of people also think they are very important and are the only ones with a plane to catch. You’ve seen how rude people can be while going through the screening process, so imagine dealing with that kind of treatment day in and day out. The Screening Officer is not out to get you or purposely make you miss your flight. But I suppose they DO have that power, so why not be pleasant?
Because you’ve come prepared and of course are polite, you don’t mind waiting while the guy in front of you goes back and forth through the metal detector because he’s forgotten to take off his watch. Or while his wife fumbles with the trillions of bracelets she decided would be appropriate accessories for air travel.
Don’t be that guy. Don’t be that guy who huffs and puffs and moans and groans because things are taking so long. Don’t be that mom. Don’t be that mom who snaps at the Screening Officer for asking more questions and double checking your diaper bag. The Screening Officer has a job to do, and we’re all safer for it. Yes, it’s a hassle. Yes, it takes forever. Yes, we’re all safer for it.
Corinne McDermott is the founder of Have Baby Will Travel, your online guide for travel with babies and toddlers. For more information or to connect with her please visit www.havebabywilltravel.com or www.twitter.com/hvbabywilltrvl