For parents, one of the biggest concerns while traveling is about the child’s health and safety. You make sure to buckle them up on car trips, wear life preservers when riding a boat, and strap on bike helmets when they’re out on two wheels. But, air travel can offer different concerns as the parent is not in the driver’s seat. The easiest way to travel – whether by air, bus, train or car – is to know the rules and regulations before you go. Standing in the airport is not the time to familiarize yourself with them. If you plan on taking an excursion by air with your kids, here are some guidelines offered by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
In the years following 9/11, heightened security measures have led to longer lines at the airport. If you’re traveling domestically it is a good idea to arrive at least two hours before your scheduled time of departure. For international flights three hours is recommended. This allows enough time to pass the security screening and make it to your gate at a comfortable pace without worrying about lines. Don’t forget you’ll need to check in your bags, and also wait to go through the security lines.
Children are required to go through screening the same as adults. For children under 12 years, the requirement to remove shoes has been waived, unless they are wearing shoes with metal in them. Parents are allowed to stay with their children as they pass through all security procedures. Wands can be used if the TSA officer feels it is needed. Most TSA officers will be patient with kids who are concerned or fearful by security measures.
Traveling with children can require a lot of extra carry-on baggage and it seems the younger the child, the more baggage you may be carrying. Some additional items may be child safety seats (make sure yours is aircraft approved before taking it to the airport), toys, diaper bags and strollers. All of these items need to be loaded on the conveyer belt for inspection. Any items that can’t pass through the machine can also be visually inspected by the officers. Additionally extra screening may be done on items. Babies can be carried by their parents through the metal detector and can not stay in their baby seats through security.
Infant formula, breast milk and baby food are not subject to the three-ounce rule for liquids. Bottles will have to be visually inspected when you are going through security screening.
Children with Disabilities
Disabilities should not prevent your child from being able to travel by air. In preparation for this, the TSA has guidelines specifically for these children. To be sure that the security checks run smoothly, inform your airline ahead of time that you will be traveling with a child that has need of additional appliances (wheelchair, motorized scooter, braces, etc.). Your child will not be asked to leave their wheelchair, but will be patted down (in your presence) while seated. If your child has a non-visable disability such as autism, hearing impairment or is non-verbal you can let the TSA agent know ahead of time if you suspect there may be any issues that could arise.
When traveling with children, know the facts before you travel and talk with your children ahead of time so that they know what to expect and are ready.
When traveling with children, have you had positive TSA experiences with?