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Flying can be a pain, especially with kids. Between the waiting, cramped spaces, and being on someone else’s schedule, it’s enough to make you crazy. And one of the worst parts is going through airport security. But, there are some things you can do to make the process less of a burden. Here’s my top tips to help you get through airport security faster when flying with kids.
- Tip #1: Wear slip-on shoes.
- Tip #2: Leave your kids’ shoes on.
- Tip #3: Minimize your accessories.
- Tip #4: Empty your pockets before getting to security.
- Tip #5: Know the restrictions.
- Tip #6: Take all electronics out of your bags.
- Tip #7: Take all food out of your bag.
- Tip #8: Empty your stroller before security.
- Tip #9: Don’t wear coats through security.
- Tip #10: Have your tickets and identification ready.
- Tip #11: Travel with your child’s birth certificate.
- Tip #12: Take your time.
Tip #1: Wear slip-on shoes.
One of the easiest ways to make 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 shoes that are easy to take off and put back on. This alone can save you several minutes and lots of aggravation.
Tip #2: Leave your kids’ shoes on.
You should, however, leave your kids’ shoes on. If your kids are under 12, TSA personnel will let them leave their shoes on when going through airport security.
So, save yourself some trouble and leave your kids’ shoes on. And, in the off chance they make your kids remove their shoes, you can take them off at that time.
Tip #3: Minimize your accessories.
Whenever you go through the security lines at the airport, you will have to remove all of your jewelry. Therefore, make life easier on yourself and minimize the number of metal accessories you wear in the airport.
This will reduce the number of things you must remove before going through the metal detector and fewer things you have to put back on after clearing security.
Tip #4: Empty your pockets before getting to security.
Another easy time-saving tip to make airport security faster 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 your bags), 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 will have less to do and 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 the TSA agents are the people who don’t know the rules.
So, before you head to the airport, take some time to review the restrictions on TSA’s website.
This will guide you in how to pack your checked luggage and your carry on bag appropriately. It will also save you the hassle of having things confiscated.
Tip #6: Take all electronics out of your bags.
You are required to remove all laptops and other electronics from your bags for screening at airport security.
I have found, though, 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, we’ve had to remove every electronic devise, from my son’s portable DVD player to my camera.
So, one of my biggest tips to get through airport security faster is to be prepared to remove all electronics from your bags.
And, if possible, put all of your electronics in one carryon bag together so you don’t have to dig through every bag to find them all. Once you have cleared the security checkpoint, you can put each family member’s electronics in their respective bags.
Ask the agent specifically what you should remove and then follow the instructions. It does no good to argue, just follow their instructions and get on with your flight.
Tip #7: Take all food out of your bag.
Another area where you will see inconsistent application of the rules 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 for your flights, 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 get through airport security faster, empty your stroller before you get into the security line.
Either have your child walk through the line or carry them. There is very 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 avoid the stink eye from those behind you) and do this before you enter the line.
Tip #9: Don’t wear coats through security.
One of the simplest ways to make airport security easier 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 things you have to do at airport security is to show 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, make airport security easier by 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, tips for sleeping better on airplanes, 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
- common mistakes when flying with toddlers
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