Security Control in an airport is just about as child unfriendly as it gets on your travels. We all understand the need for all the checks and rules and so we grin and bear it. But it can be tough going with young children as fellow travellers suddenly take on an immense urgency to get through the scanners to save the bags at the other side at whatever cost – including you and your little ones.
Fear not, take heed of these hints and tips and you’ll sail through calmly and without incident. I have often flown with my two girls on my own and we have perfected the security control process over the past 3 years. My girls are well drilled and we’re now super slick through security.
Before you go to the airport:
1. Know the airport rules on liquids and prepare yours. In the UK you must
• take no more than 10 items of liquid in your hand luggage
• each separate item cannot be more than 100ml
• pack liquids into a plastic sealable bag (like a food bag) that you remove from your bag and put into a scanner tray before you go through.
• not take half a 200ml bottle.
Baby milks and jars aren’t restricted to the 100ml limit, you can take larger bottles. You may have to taste one or all of them in front of security staff, so do take flavours you think you’ll like! Security will confiscate anything that doesn’t comply. I have seen an expat pleading with customs not to deem his jar of peanut butter as a liquid over 100ml. In the bin it went. See our info on flying with a baby for more on airport security restrictions.
2. Your clothes. Don’t wear boots or a belt if you can help it. Both will need to be removed before you pass through the scanner. You’ll also need to take your jacket off and put it in a tray to go through the scanner.
3. Your pushchair. Make sure you know how to fold down your pushchair easily. I know this sounds obvious, but I did borrow a friends for one flight and was reduced to a sweating panicky mess when I realised I didn’t know how to fold it down to put it on the scanner. I think it’s best to leave your expensive travel system behind and take a good value lightweight stroller on holiday. You can check out these strollers suitable for holidays for ideas.
At the airport:
4. Personally I like to get through security control first, before we eat or peruse any of the shops as at times the queues can get long and you don’t need the added stress of rushing to catch your aeroplane.
5. If they have one, try and separate your little one from their comfort toy before you get near security control. My 3 year old screamed when she had to let go of teddy to put him through the scanner. In the end the security staff took pity – but he still had to be frisked before she could have him back.
6. Start preparing yourself in the queue if you can. Don’t take your baby out of your buggy until you are at the scanners, with your coat off and coins, phones, etc. already in the trays.
7. Remember if you take a laptop you’ll need to take that out of your bag and into a tray to go through the scanner. Sometimes they do extra checks on laptops.
8. If you are on your own, you will need to be able to put your pushchair down with one hand while you hold your baby, so do practise this. If your children are a little older, sit the older one down on the floor with the youngest sitting between their legs while you put the buggy down.
9. You can, of course, carry your baby through, but slightly older children will probably need to walk through separately. Try and encourage and coax your children through as best you can.
10. Grab your buggy first to put your baby or toddler in. Then grab your trays, bags and children and take them all to a quiet space (there are usually tables just beyond the scanners) where you can reassemble yourselves in your own time.
Well done. You did it! Now to keep the kids from running riot in duty free.
Picture of baby looking at aeroplanes (top) courtesy of Ryaninc via Flickr