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Generally speaking, flying can be a pain. Between the waiting, cramped spaces, and being on someone else’s schedule, it’s enough to make you crazy. When you fly with kids, it becomes even more stressful. And one of the worst parts is going through airport security. You have to wait in long lines, then take off your shoes and have all your things scrutinized. And then, if you’re really unlucky, you get pulled out for additional screening. Plus, you have to corral your kids during all this. Talk about a fun way to start your vacation! But, there are some things you can do to make the process less of a burden. Here are some tips to make airport security easier, especially when flying with kids.
Tip #1: Wear slip-on shoes.
One of the easiest tips for making airport security easier is to wear slip-on shoes through the airport. Since you must take off your shoes while going through security, you want to wear some that are easy to take off and easy to put back on. This alone can save you several minutes and lots of aggravation.
Tip #2: Leave your kids’ shoes on.
While we’re talking about shoes, another tip is to leave your kids’ shoes on. If your kids are under 12, most of the time, the security authorities will not make them take their shoes off. So, save yourself some trouble and leave them on. And, in the off chance they make your kids remove their shoes, you can take them off at the time.
Tip #3: Minimize your accessories.
Whenever you go through security, you will have to remove all of your jewelry. Therefore, make life easier on yourself and minimize the number of accessories you wear in the airport. It will mean fewer things to remove before going through the metal detector and fewer things to put back on after clearing security.
Tip #4: Empty your pockets before getting to security.
Another easy time-saving tip is to empty your pockets before you get to the security lines. As soon as you get inside the airport (or after you have checked in), take a minute to unload your stuff. Put your keys, loose change, sunglasses, and anything else you may have in your pockets into your carry on bag. The only things you should leave in your pockets are your cell phone and wallet. Then, when you get to the security checkpoint, you can get through the metal detectors much faster.
Tip #5: Know the restrictions.
Many times, the people who hold up the security lines and get the most frustrated at TSA agents are the people who don’t know the rules. Before you head to the airport, take some time to review the restrictions on TSA’s website. This will guide you to pack your checked luggage and your carry on bag appropriately and save you the hassle of having things confiscated.
Tip #6: Take all electronics out of their bags.
One of the rules at airport security checkpoints is that you must take laptops and other electronics out of your bags for screening. I have found that this rule is applied very inconsistently from airport to airport and agent to agent. Sometimes, they ask us to remove only laptops. Other times, they have asked us to remove laptops and tablets, but nothing else. And still other times, they have wanted every electronic devise, from my son’s portable DVD player to my camera, removed. So, one of my biggest tips for airport security is to be prepared to remove all electronics from their bags. Ask the agent specifically what you should remove and then follow the instructions. It does no good to argue, just follow what they tell you and get on with your flight.
Tip #7: Take all food out of your bag.
Another area where you will see inconsistent application is with food. At some airports, you will be asked to remove all food from your carry on bags. At other places, they only want you to remove liquids. Honolulu airport, in particular, is very picky about the removal of food. I once got held up at security there because I did not take a bag of Cheerios out of my bag. So, if you pack snacks, ask the agent if you need to remove them from your bag. You can speed up the process by removing food from your bag before it goes through the X-ray machine instead of having your bag pulled for additional screening.
Tip #8: Empty your stroller before security.
If you are traveling with kids young enough to be in a stroller, please know that you will have to remove your child and all bags from the stroller. So, to make airport security easier, empty your stroller before you get into the security line. Either have your child walk through the line or carry them. There is little space in those lines, and it will be difficult to empty and collapse your stroller once you get to the front. So, save yourself some hassle and do this before you enter the line.
Tip #9: Don’t wear coats through security.
One of the easiest tips for airport security is to not wear coats or jackets through the security line. You will be required to remove it before going through the metal detectors. So, speed up the process by removing your coat, and your child’s coat, before you even get into the line.
Tip #10: Have your tickets and identification ready.
One of the first steps of the airport security process is to check your ticket and identification. So, have these ready before you get in the line so you will be prepared when it is your turn. I also recommend that you keep each person’s ticket paired with his passport. This will keep the TSA agents happy and make your identification check faster.
Tip #11: Travel with your child’s birth certificate.
In order to prevent major problems, I suggest you always travel with your children’s birth certificates. Most of the time, you will not need them, but if you are asked and you don’t have them, it could cause you to miss your flight. This is especially important if you have a lap child or are traveling without both parents. This is one of those times when it is better to be safe than sorry.
Tip #12: Take your time.
Lastly, my tips for getting through airport security easier include taking your time. To prevent frustration and make your trip smoother, get to the airport early and then take as much time as you need to get through security. If someone behind you is in a rush, let them go ahead of you instead of stressing you out. The fact is that when you travel with kids, you need more time than those without kids, so don’t feel bad about taking the time you need.
Going through the airport can be maddening, especially with kids, but it doesn’t have to be. The above tips will make getting through airport security easier than ever. And remember, this is just a small speed bump to get over before you can start enjoying your vacation! For more airport tips, see how to save on airfare and safety tips for airports. For tips on flying with kids, see best airplane snacks for kids, how to ease child anxiety when flying, screen free activities for flying, and common mistakes when flying with toddlers. Happy travels!