One of the most hated things about flying is going through the dreaded TSA Line. This to some, especially those traveling with children can seem intimidating. Getting through TSA with or without a child can be sometimes stressful. From making sure you follow all the rules, or the “Oh Snap, I forgot I had a huge thing of lotion in my carry on” and wanting to avoid the nosey stares from on lookers as you’re getting patted down and more. Well never fear, The Travel Tots are here.
I can honestly say I have had the best of the best, and the worst TSA experiences while traveling with Carson. Each experience allowed me to learn from it and we are TSA Pros now!
Let’s start with what Identification does your little one need to get through TSA. When booking flight online, some airlines allow you to add that you are flying with an infant and require you to enter their name and birthday. Other airlines require you to call in after the flight is booked with your Record Locator and they will add them for you.
Infants for airlines are anyone under 2 years of age. If you will be sitting them on your lap they are FREE!!!! Please keep a copy of their birth certificate either in paper form or take a picture with your phone if you don’t want the hassle of extra paper. The birth certificate will be presented to the ticketing counter for age and sometimes parental confirmation.
During ticketing, Lap Infants receive a paper that looks like a ticket (its not a ticket), this links them to traveling with you. You will present this to TSA. Children 2 and over will have their own seat and ticket.
1. Strollers/ Car seats Strollers must be folded down at TSA. If you have to travel with a stroller, practice folding it down at home before you get to the airport so you can get through security easier. Depending on the stroller, you may have to fold down the handle or remove wheels for it to fit through. It can be stressful to be learning how to take apart your stroller while you’re going through security. If your stroller or car seat simply won’t fit through the x-ray machine, don’t stress. TSA can visually and physically inspect it. Just ask. Many infant car seats fit best through the x-ray machine when they are upside down and the handle is clicked all the way back. I always checked Carson’s car seat at ticketing and baby wore him when he was an infant which was easier for me when traveling by myself.
2. Baby Wearing You can keep your baby in your carrier when going through TSA. You will walk through the regular metal detector and must be patted down, it seems like from head to toe. I also had to get my hands swabbed as well.
3. Breast Milk and Formula Despite the TSA quart sized bag of liquid rule, exceptions are made when it comes to mothers traveling with babies and breast milk. When traveling with formula I highly recommend traveling with the powder form. When I travelled with Carson once, I bought the pre-made formula and it was a nightmare. When going through his diaper bag to take the formula out, they also horribly dis-organized his diaper bag then stuffed everything back in wherever it fit. The look on my face was PRICELESS. They were also threatening to open the premade formula to test it which ALL us moms know that stuff goes bad so many hours after being opened. After that experience I would have a powder formula in his bag. And would fill up 3-4 bottles with the baby water at home and take those through security. Best thing to do is to remove those bottles and put them in a separate bin to prevent the officer from messing you diaper bag up. They will have to be tested. How this test is done will vary on the airport and the equipment they have. In some instances, they will ask you to open the bottle or cup. Then they will hover a little test strip over the bottle and run the strip through a machine that tests for explosive material. The other test I have seen can only be run on cups or bottles that are clear. The bottle just sits in a machine that runs the same test for explosive material. Both of these tests only take a few seconds. When traveling with pumped breast milk, the process is similar. Remove it from the bag and place it in a separate bin for screening and testing.
4. If traveling alone with a toddler or baby, please wear easy slip on slip off shoes. Its more convenient and you don’t have to worry about the hassle of putting your shoes on while wrangling up a curious toddler. Children 12 and under do not have to remove their shoes.
5. DON’T STRESS. Take your time when going through security. If someone behind you is heartless enough to not understand how hard it is when going through security with kids, then they can “kick rocks with no shoes on”. I have never had someone who has grown impatient with me in the TSA line, everyone I have encountered tried to assist me and help, but I know there are “those people” out there who don’t.