Aug 29, 2018 Airports with kids
The first time the 6 of us went through airport security it was CHAOS! Off went the shoes, out came 6 iPads, 3 computers, 3 cozies, and a toy that looked suspiciously like a weapon. Filling bin after bin I looked behind me to see those “accusing stares” and heavy sighs. The ones that traveling parents get all to often from solo travelers. The look that says you shouldn’t be traveling with your kids, you look like a circus act. I didn’t have time to stare back in indignation because the security scanner started yelling in Norwegian or some such. Every set of eyes looks to the security personnel and my mouth falls to the floor as I see my son Beckett standing right next to him watching the computer screen scan whatever items are going by. I scream “Beckett!” He looks up at me and CRAWLS back under the counter to my side. This is airport security at its worst. So I am here to give you tips on how to do it with much more poise and grace than I did. And save you from the ultimate walk of shame.
What people worry the most about when traveling with kids is going through security and how to get kids energy out before a flight. Hopefully my insights will help, but my two top tips… fly earlier in the day, and if you need assistance, just ASK!
In the USA we have TSA pre check. TSA Pre Check expedites security screenings so you are able to speed through security because you don’t need to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets, and you are in a completely separate line from the rest of the masses. In order to qualify you must go to a 10 minute, in person appointment that includes a background check and fingerprinting, and an $85 fee. It is worth it! The only downside is not all countries offer this great service. So what did we do when we had to go through security the normal way?
Wardrobe is key. Dress as basic as you can. No fancy shoes with metal buckles, wear slip on shoes with socks and no jewelry. This saves you from having to do repeat scans.
Most people prefer to check their stroller with their baggage. I am going to say DON’T! Keep your stroller with you and gate check it. Yes you have to have your stroller screened either by X-ray or manually but it often gets you through security faster. When you have a stroller full of kids people always help you out. 9 times out of 10 when we walk up to security they send us through in the expedited line and if they didn’t we would ask if we could. This saves you from waiting in long lines with kids and allows you take a little longer through security. Often times an employee will come be an extra set of hands. Next up is walking to your gate. We have experienced some REALLY big airports. Where it takes 15 minutes to walk to our gate (at a normal adult pace). You want to tire your kids out in an airport but making them trudge through the airport is not the way to do it. All you will get is complaining and meltdowns and and an extra child or two in your arms.
Also note that you CAN bring more than 3.4 oz of breast milk, baby formula, juice, and baby food through security
How to Get Kids Energy Out
Making kids walk around an airport is not fun for kids! It will just make them grumpy and in turn you. Kids need to PLAY! Thankfully almost every major airport in the world has great kid zones and play areas. I am talking toys, slides, things to climb and crawl on, and other kids to play with. Always ask someone where a kid zone is or Google it and you will be surprised at how many airports have great ones! Then stay there as long as you can.
Lounges are NOT just for adults! They are for families and many of them have private kid rooms. We used the lounge at every airport we went to. You can send your kids to get their own snacks or water which keeps them occupied and happy. Being in a loud concourse with no where for a child to feel like they can relax or sit really frazzles them. It is a reprieve and allows us to use cleaner bathrooms. At the Fiji lounge they had a whole section for kids complete with employees who wanted to play with your kids! I sat outside the glass room and watched them build blocks with some cute Fijian gal who was all smiles. One of the perks of our American Express is that we get lounge access plus one guest. We both have this perk so we could get 4 people in for free and most lounges don’t charge for children under 3.
We also have Priority Pass when the airport didn’t have an AMEX lounge.
You can always find a quiet corner in an airport to spread out and play. Most often we would play Red light Green light but really kids are game masters and will tell you what they want to play. So follow their lead and then cross your fingers that your flight isn’t delayed.