Strollers & Liquids & Toys… Oh My!
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 airport security with babies.
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. But the next time you’re traveling with your kids, try to remember the “3 Ps” before you head to the airport. You should all sail right through…
Tips to Clear Airport Security with Babies and Toddlers: The 3 Ps!
Have your travel-sized liquids in their 1 litre/3 quart 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 your 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. However, the screening officer will likely take it aside for a quick once over. If your child can’t walk, you’ll carry her through. But 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 and 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. Imagine dealing with that kind of treatment day in and day out. The TSA 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.
Trusted Traveler Programs:
If you are a US citizen, you may qualify for a number of Trusted Traveler programs, that can greatly improve your airport security experiences. The TSAPrecheck is the biggie, and your coverage also includes your children under 12. If you do a lot of international travel, the Global Entry program for US citizens covers air, land, and sea and includes TSAPrecheck. NEXUS is available for US citizens, Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and Mexican nationals. It also covers air, land, and sea and may or may not also include TSAPrecheck.
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