Getting stressed just thinking about getting through airport security with children? Find out some handy tips for getting through airport security with kids. Scroll down to read them all!
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If you’re new to the traveling world or new to traveling with kids, just the thought of taking kids through airport security can be a little intimidating.
During my first few flights with kids, the security area was definitely the most stressful. My kids wouldn’t want to take off their backpacks and it was so much energy to get all our stuff through the X-ray machine.
And don’t get me started on the hand swap just because I’m a mom.
Luckily, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has made the process a little easier over the years so it’s not too bad these days if you know what to bring, what not to bring, and what to expect.
Things may get a little chaotic and there may be a few obstacles that you’ll have to get around, depending on the age of the kids, but hopefully, these tips will help.
8 Time-Saving Tips for Getting Through Airport Security with Children
Before your flight, you will want to read over the airline’s policies on flying with children. Many require you to have proper documentation for the child.
Typically, children do not need an ID or passport for domestic flights.
You may need to bring a copy of the child’s birth certificate or other paperwork for the check-in process.
Check with your airline to see exactly what kind of documentation you need, if any, to get through the gate so your process goes as smoothly as possible.
If you’re taking an international flight and heading out of the country, everyone, including the baby, will need to have a valid passport and proper documentation.
Plan early for this because official documents like these can take up to six weeks and you don’t want to get all the way to the airport just to realize you don’t have the correct documentation.
FIRST FLIGHT FOR YOUR CHILDREN? GIVE THEM AN IDEA OF WHAT TO EXPECT
If this is their first flight, it’s a good idea to talk about the trip and the process of how the security lines will go.
You can find some fun kid-themed videos on YouTube that will help show kids what is expected and what to expect at the airport.
WHAT TO PACK AND WHAT NOT TO PACK TO GET THROUGH AIRPORT SECURITY WITH CHILDREN:
To keep the kids entertained you may be tempted to bring all their toys and snacks to keep them from getting hungry during the plane ride.
Before you get to the airport, you’ll want to be sure to check any bags for items or toys that resemble prohibited items.
While it’s ok to bring as many toys as you’d like, things like toy guns would of course not be allowed. These will be taken, and you will not get them back.
Snacks are usually a must-have for kids during trips and those are ok to bring. Snacks like dried fruits, nuts, dry cereal, and chips are all good options and can easily pass through security with no problem.
If you have things like peanut butter or yogurt, those will need to be in travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces or less per item and will need to fit in a quart-sized bag.
When you’re going through the X-ray machine, you will need to take the bag out of your carry-on before sending it through the machine.
Liquids like formula, breast milk, juice, baby food, and liquid medications are exempt from the 3-1-1 liquid rule.
When going through security you’ll need to take out the baby bottles and sippy cups so they can be screened separately.
STAY CALM WHEN GETTING THROUGH AIRPORT SECURITY WITH CHILDREN
Going through the security line can get overwhelming, even for adults, and trying to get through as quickly as possible is what everyone wants.
It’s usually pretty fast-paced but kids may get overwhelmed easily with everything that is going on or they are unsure what to do.
If you stay calm during the process, it will help them stay calm. This will help in avoiding any major meltdowns that can occur.
TAKE THE FAMILY LINE OR TSA PRECHECK LINE
Some airports have a Family Line that allows families with young children to skip ahead. This will make the process easier for the entire family.
If you don’t see a family line or aren’t sure there is one, nicely ask one of the TSA officers if they have one.
If there is a PreCheck line at the airport, use it! This is a prescreening system that allows frequent flyers to apply for access to a restricted but faster security line.
It also bypasses the lengthy part where you must pull out any liquids and electronics from your bags.
You can apply online for the PreCheck program or get it with a NEXUS pass.
DRESS COMFORTABLY AND SECURITY-FRIENDLY
Avoid wearing anything with lots of metal buttons or snaps so there are no problems going through the scanners or having to step aside to get patted down.
Dress yourself and the kids comfortably and wear shoes that can easily be taken off and put back on.
If children are old enough to walk, they’ll be able to walk through the X-ray scanner. Kids under 12 usually do not need to remove their shoes, but it’s always good to be on the safe side and be prepared to do so.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER TO GET THROUGH AIRPORT SECURITY WITH CHILDREN
If you are traveling with your significant other or another adult, consider assigning tasks.
One adult can help entertain the children while the other is busy getting everything ready to go through security. This can be extremely helpful when you’re traveling with younger children.
The same goes for when you use a stroller. We always bring a lightweight stroller for airplane travel because it helps alleviate a ton of stress.
Have one adult in charge of pushing the stroller (and then breaking it down) while another handles the other carry-on luggage.
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A BRIBE
Don’t be afraid to offer them their favorite treat, toy, or something they would look forward to in exchange for behaving and getting through the process without any kind of a fight.
This is something that can save you from losing your sanity throughout the airport or waiting in long security lines.
Electronics can help keep kids occupied, anything bigger than a phone will need to be taken out and placed on the scanning belt.
Try to do the electronics first, that way kids can easily pick right back up after they’ve passed through security and concentrate on their game instead of all the commotion.
Getting through airport security can seem like a daunting task, but if you get prepared and take all the necessary precautions, there shouldn’t be much of a problem.
The TSA has a lot of helpful information and tips on traveling with children and you can get information on security screening, special procedures, and other questions you may have about the security process.
What Happens at the TSA Checkpoint for Families?
Going through security at the airport can be a bit intimidating for kids, but the process is fairly straightforward.
Here are some steps that kids can expect when going through airport security:
Kids will need to take off their shoes and place them in a bin for screening. Parents may want to choose easy-to-remove shoes for their children to make the process quicker and easier.
Any items in pockets, such as toys or snacks, will need to be placed in a bin for screening.
Remove Outer Layers
Kids may need to remove jackets, sweatshirts, or other outer layers of clothing for screening.
Put Belongings on the Conveyor Belt
Kids will need to place their belongings, including any carry-on bags, on the conveyor belt for screening.
Walk Through a Metal Detector or Scanner
Kids will need to walk through a metal detector or scanner, which will detect any metal objects on their person.
If security personnel need to do a more thorough search, they will explain the process to the child and their parent. Parents can also ask for a private screening if they prefer.
Overall, the process for kids going through airport security is similar to that for adults, but parents can help make it smoother by preparing their children ahead of time and being patient and understanding during the screening process.
Security Screening Process FAQs
Yes, as a parent or guardian, you can accompany your child through airport security. In fact, it’s recommended that you do so, especially if your child is young or has special needs.
Yes, kids can go through the body scanner at the airport, but it’s not mandatory. When going through airport security, children can choose to go through the metal detector or the body scanner.
Yes, parents are allowed to bring liquids, such as baby formula, breast milk, and juice, through security in amounts greater than the 3.4-ounce limit for other liquids, but they may need to undergo additional screening.
Yes, parents can bring snacks for their children through security, but they should be aware of any restrictions on bringing certain types of food through security, such as fruits and vegetables.
Children under the age of 18 do not need a government-issued ID to go through security, but parents should bring a copy of the child’s birth certificate or passport just in case.
Yes, parents can bring a stroller through security, but it will need to be screened separately. Some airports also have designated stroller lanes to make the process easier.
Yes, parents can bring a car seat through security, but it will need to be screened separately. Some airlines also allow parents to check car seats for free.
If parents have TSA Pre-Check, it can make the security process easier for the entire family, but children under the age of 12 can usually accompany their parents through the TSA Pre-Check lane without having to enroll in the program themselves.
Airport Security Lines with Kids Wrap Up
Going through airport security with kids can be a stressful experience, but with some preparation and patience, it can be made easier.
Remember to arrive early, especially if you’re traveling during peak travel times or with young children who may need extra time to go through security.
Be sure to have all necessary documents, such as your boarding pass, and be ready to remove shoes, jackets, and any liquids or electronics from your bags.
Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from a TSA officer, and be courteous to others waiting in long airport security lines.
And finally, pack your diaper bag with care and double-check that you have all the essentials for your flight.
By following these tips, you can help ensure a smooth and stress-free experience as you make your way through airport security on your international or domestic flight.