We all know by now that flying with babies and toddlers is not for the faint of heart – even before you board! Getting everyone packed, organized, and ready to go through security with little fuss can be (or feel) challenging. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has passed along a few airport tips and tricks as helpful reminders, to help make your summer air travel experiences a little less stressful.
Know how to carry-on
Children get hungry for snacks. You know this and you want to be prepared. Solid foods such as apples, granola bars, or sandwiches can be packed in your carry-on for the plane ride. Before going through security, any liquid food, such as yogurt, pudding, or even peanut butter, must be in containers of 100ml or less and placed in a clear, closed, resealable one-litre plastic bag. If these are staples for your kids, it might be easier to purchase them once you’re through security.
If you’re traveling with a baby (under the age of two), items such as baby food, breast milk, formula, water, and juice are exempt from airport security’s 100 ml limit and do not have to be placed in a plastic bag. However, you must present these items to the screening officer for inspection. I’ve found it easiest to keep all these items together in an insulated bag.
Other personal items to keep the kids entertained, like iPods, tablets and toys, can go in your child’s carry-on baggage. Be sure to leave toys that look like weapons (e.g. water guns, toy grenades, etc.) at home. If you’ve permitted your child to pack their own carry-on, give it a quick once over to make sure no inappropriate toys were accidentally packed.
Check wait times
Preparing for your departure is easier with CATSA’s online wait time indicator. Wait times for security screening checkpoints major airports provide extra convenience when planning your trip. But even though waiting can sometimes be a drag, for your own peace of mind it’s easiest to just get to the airport early. Especially if you’re flying through Pearson and heading to the USA… Pre-clearing customs on the Canadian side saves time once you land, but lines for customs at Pearson can sometimes be insanely long.
Breeze through security
Did you know there is a Family/Special needs lane at most Canadian airports? This lane is for passengers who need more time or help with their belongings to get through security. Check when you arrive if this lane is available. If your stroller or car seat won’t fit through the screening machine, be prepared to wait a bit so officials can personally inspect them. Prepare your toddler in advance that “Teddy” has to go for a little ride.
Make sure your family wears easy-to-remove outerwear, clothing without snaps, metal buttons or studs, and be sure to limit jewelry to small items such as earrings. Let your child walk through the metal detector if they are able to do so on their own. You only need to remove your shoes if you are travelling to the US.
Travelling with the family pooch?
Contact your airline in advance to find out about their policy for passengers travelling with pets. If your pet is travelling in the cabin with you, remove it from its carrying case, send the carrying case through the x-ray scanner, hold your pet in your arms and proceed through the metal detector.
Follow these airport tips and tricks, and the only thing left to do is relax and enjoy your family vacation. Well, we know that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but at least you’re well on your way!