Parents have been flying up to me recently, asking for any hints on taking their infants and young children through airport security.
Well let me see if I can take off and provide a few parenting pointers on this topic.
Getting through security should really begin before you get there. Talk with your child (if they are old enough to understand) and tell them what is going to happen. Tell them about the screening process and that they need to walk through the scanner without you, but that you will follow right behind.
Tell them not to worry about the X-ray machine eating their toys or backpacks and that they will come out fine at the other end.
The Transportation Security Administration now allows children 12 and under to leave their shoes on, so don’t worry about that aspect of the process.
Finally, it’s very important to tell your school-age children that they should not joke in the line about having a weapon or explosives, since this will not only result in a delay but could result in serious fines as well.
When you get to the airport, be aware that everyone goes through security, even infants. All child-related equipment such as strollers and infant carriers need to be collapsed to go through X-ray scanners, and if they cannot be collapsed, then be prepared to have them inspected visually and physically. Babies need to be removed from their carriers as they go through the security device. Medications, baby formula, breast milk and juice are exempt from the “3-1-1” rules and are allowed in reasonable quantities over 3.4 ounces. They are also not required to be in a single zip-top bag like other liquids. However, these items may need to undergo additional screening at the checkpoint,
A child cannot be passed to someone in front of or behind and cannot be passed to another screener to hold. If a child can walk, it is best for that child to walk — hence the need for advance preparation. If the alarm does go off, they can try again, or other procedures may be tried to reduce the need for a pat down.
Hopefully by thinking ahead and telling your child what to expect, you’ll feel even more secure about getting through airport security uneventfully.
Dr. Lewis First is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.