Say Goodbye to Hassles: How to Easily Get Through Airport Security with kids

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Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or casual flyer, the airport security line can be daunting. Throw children into the mix and it’s even more intimidating — but it doesn’t have to be. Read on for everything you need to know about how to get through airport security with kids and a baby. We’ll tell you which liquids you can bring for your kids, whether you need to remove your kids’ shoes, and three helpful tips to make your TSA security line experience a cinch.

How Soon Can You Travel With a Newborn

Tips to get through airport security with kids

I was so nervous the first time I flew with my kids, then 2 and 4 years old. It was their first flight. The most important thing I did was before we even got to the airport. I talked to them in advance about what to expect and made it seem like a grown up thing they were going to do.

Then when we were at the airport and getting into the line, I reminded them that this was the place they needed their very best ever behavior and that they were going to check our things, etc. They did great for that first time through and the 20+ times they’ve been since. When my kids were 4 and 5 years old, they liked pushing the containers down the line — if it wasn’t too busy. When they were a little older, they even got their own “baskets” and helped me with my things.

By the time they were 6 years old, they were pros, having flown so many times. My kids, probably like most, like to know what to expect, and then they will be fine. It’s important for the parents/guardians to stay calm too.

Do Babies Need a Passport to Travel

Which liquids can you carry on for your baby or young child?

You no doubt understand the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule: three ounce bottles of liquid in a one quart container, one per passenger. But what if you’re traveling with a baby or kids? Do the same travel regulations for liquids apply? The short answer: no. The following liquids for babies and young children are exempts from the 3-1-1 rule:

Medically necessary liquids and gels

This includes both over-the-counter and prescription medications for your infant. Bring the cough syrup you need, or the infant Tylenol: these items do not have to be three ounces or smaller. Also included are gel-filled teething rings and other essential baby-related gear.

Baby food

This includes dry baby foods, jarred baby food, baby food pouches, and food stored in personal containers. However, you will need to declare it (see below).

Breastmilk and infant formula:

And yes, formula can be already mixed and ready to go. What’s the quantity allowed? “Reasonable quantities,” says the TSA. Basically, this means whatever amount is necessary for your flight day (the rest can be in your checked luggage). Note: Even if you are not traveling with your child, breast milk is considered ‘medically necessary’ and may be taken through security. Great news for working moms pumping on the go.

Juice or water for babies:

This is where traveling with liquids gets tricky, because carrying water and juice for adult travelers is still not permitted. However, if the juice is intended for your infant or child, it’s a go. Again, be sure to declare it and be ready to explain who it’s for. You can keep juice in sippy cups or bottles, but will need to take the lid off. A side note, I was successful at bringing two juice boxes for my little ones about two or three times out of the five or six times when I tried it.

The employees saw the juice boxes and saw my kids and let it pass. But sometimes they didn’t and that was okay too as they were just doing their jobs. None of the above items need to be stored in a one quart bag, but you do need to be ready to show them to TSA officers. Declare all these items when you arrive at the checkpoint, and expect to take the lid off of bottles of milk and possibly the lid off baby food jars.

The above rules apply to “infants and small children” according to the TSA, so be prepared to deal with some gray area when it comes to whether a slightly older child warrants juice or milk.

Do you have more questions? TSA’s website has answers.

get through airport security with kids

Traveling with children – What about the other aspects of the TSA screening children?

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for the safety and security of travelers in the United States. Learn more about TSA’s screening procedures for children, including how to prepare for a screening, what to expect during. The TSA provides security screening for children, just like for adults. Our enhanced procedures are designed to be respectful and sensitive to the needs of children while also ensuring the safety of all passengers. Learn more about TSA’s child screening procedures and best practices.

TSA is committed to providing a safe and secure travel experience for all passengers. Our officers use specialized training to provide the best possible screening of children, including alternative screening procedures for children 12 and under. Learn more about TSA’s security measures for children. Families are finding it easier to fly with kids. Kids 12 and under are now exempt from taking off shoes in security, and TSA policy dictates families will no longer be separated.

How Much Cash Can You Travel With

What you need to know about TSA screening for kids

Kids may not need to go through the AIT (advanced imaging technology). Anyone deemed capable of holding still for the required five (or so) seconds in the AIT may be required to do so, but in our experience, most children are not directed there. This means you won’t be either. Again, you’ll deal with some gray area here. You stay with your kids. Parents cannot go through AIT while holding a child or infant, and parents cannot be separated from children 12 and under, so it’s likely you won’t go through AIT either.

Kids 12 and under keep their shoes on

Yay! No more squeezing shoes back on toddler feet in a crowded security area!

Airport security with kids – TSA security tips for families

Traveling through airport security with kids doesn’t have to be a hassle. Learn tips and tricks for streamlining the process, including when to arrive, what to bring, and how to prepare your family for a stress-free experience from security checkpoints. Travelling with kids can be stressful. Make the process of airport security easier with these simple tips and tricks. Learn how to save time and money, while keeping your family safe and happy. Get ready for a smooth journey with these helpful hacks! Don’t let the stress of traveling with kids keep you from taking a family vacation. Find out how to make airport security a breeze with our helpful tips and tricks. From packing smart to choosing the right time of day, we’ll show you how easy

How Much Cash Can You Travel With

Look for family lines

More and more airports are including family lanes at TSA security. What are the benefits? A more gracious staff, fewer impatient business travelers standing in line behind you, and more space to fold your stroller, help your kids, and organize your gear.

Be honest and be nice to TSA

Sounds simple, right? But security lines can be stressful, and it’s easy to forget that by explaining what you’re carrying with you and why to security agents in a nice way, you’ll almost always have a calmer, kinder experience.

Start preparing early

You’ll need to take infants and small children out of strollers, backpacks, and slings, so do that before it’s your turn in line. If you’re traveling solo and this is not possible, speak up: ask an agent for help, or at least inform them that you’ll be a bit slower than the average traveler. There are lots of tips and advice for how to get through airport security with kids but I think the best tips are to let your children know what to expect (without getting too specific) and for you to stay as calm as possible. Traveling is stressful for everyone. Making it less stressful for your children is key.

Traveling with Baby Checklist – 21 Tips for Flying with Your Baby

  • The prospect of traveling with a baby is daunting — will he cry the whole time?
  • Can I change him on the plane? Will I have enough diapers?

I just took my first trip with our 10-week-old son and I was nervous about flying with a baby. But I found that, if you’re prepared, traveling with kids isn’t all that different from traveling alone. Here’s everything you need to know to travel with baby. These 21 tips are sure to make your trip less stressful.

Related Content: How to Take a Car Seat on a Plane, be prepared with air travel!

Pack light and carry on

We always try to pack light, but I was sure we’d have to check a bag on our first trip with a baby. I was wrong. Elizabeth and I fit everything for two adults and one baby into two carry-on roller boards, a diaper bag, and a backpack. We figured if we needed anything that we didn’t pack, we could buy it when we arrived. I’m so glad we did it this way. Who wants to pay money to check bags, only to wait by the baggage claim with a jet lagged baby?

Consider the time of day

If you can, book your flights for a time of day when baby is generally in a good mood. You probably don’t want to subject yourself (or your fellow passengers) to baby’s 6:00 fussy time.

Make sure necessities are accessible

Pack snacks (for parents and older babies), toys, adequate diapers, a bag for dirty diapers, wipes, formula or breast milk, a blanket, and any other must-haves in an under-the-seat bag so you can get to them at any time.

Here’s a list of items to back when traveling with baby.

image credit: mbrubek

Getting to the Airport

Arrive early

This is true especially if you’re traveling on the weekends or during holidays. Give yourself an extra 30 minutes at the airport to deal with any urgent situations that arise (blowout diapers, anyone?). Travel with baby takes longer than traveling alone, no matter how prepared you are. You’ll feel less stressed if you give yourself plenty of time.

Drive to the airport

Our lovely friend was kind enough to drive us to the airport at 6:00 am and we planned to take public transit on the way home. Of course, our flight home was canceled and we were re-booked on a later flight. By the time we got to our home airport, we had a cranky baby with two cranky moms. Oh, and it was 10 degrees out. Taking the Light Rail home, then walking 20 minutes with a screaming baby in freezing weather was unappealing. Instead, Elizabeth took public transit home, got the car, and picked up our baby and me from the airport. Having a car parked at the airport would have been expensive, but it would have been worth it in our circumstances.

Don’t bring a car seat on the plane

I highly recommend wearing your baby and leaving your car seat in the car. Lugging around a car seat is a hassle and you either have to check it (and risk it being tossed around and damaged) or buy another plane ticket for your baby to have his own seat. Just make sure your ride when you reach your destination has a car seat.

Going Through Security

Travelling with kids can be stressful. Make it easier by understanding the TSA screening process for families. Get tips on what to pack, how to get through security quickly, and other helpful advice for travelling with children. Reduce your stress and make flying fun. Experiencing an airport security screening with kids can be overwhelming for both parents and children. Here’s a guide to navigating the TSA screening process with your family, so you can arrive at your destination safely and stress-free. Learn how to prepare, Flying with kids can be stressful, but going through TSA screening doesn’t have to be. Learn the best ways to prepare when traveling with children so you and your family can get through TSA quickly and safely.

Familiarize yourself with TSA’s guidelines

These are subject to change at any time, so it’s a good idea to review them before each trip.

Read TSA’s Traveling with Children guide.

Wear baby through security

If you “wear” baby in a sling, wrap, or carrier like the Moby Wrap or ERGO Baby carrier, you can leave him in there when you go through security. I would highly recommend wearing your baby since it gives you two free hands to carry luggage and put it through the x-ray machine. I wore my little guy in a Moby and it was perfect. One thing to note: a TSA agent might wipe down your hands to check for explosives.

Don’t worry about baby’s footwear

Children under 12 can leave their shoes on so there’s no need to remove baby’s shoes or socks.

Prepare your liquids in advance

Make sure you have all of your liquids in 3 ounce containers in a plastic bag, just as you do when traveling without kids. There is one exception: If you’re traveling breast milk or formula, you can bring larger containers, provided you declare them to TSA officers. Learn more on TSA’s website.

Bring a baggie with ice for breast milk

If you’re bringing breast milk through security you’ll want to keep it cold. Instead of using reusable ice packs (which I was afraid TSA might not allow) I filled ziploc baggies with ice. That way, when the ice melted, or if TSA wanted me to dump the ice, I could get fresh ice from any of the restaurants through security.

At the Airport Ask for better seats

Make sure, at the very least, your family’s seats are together. Better yet, get seats toward the front of the plane so you can exit more quickly when you reach your destination. Elizabeth asked if we could move closer to the front of the plane since we were traveling with a baby and the gate attendant did us one better. He gave us an entire row to ourselves!

Thanks American Airlines!

Know that not all restrooms are family restrooms

I was dismayed when we discovered multiple (huge) restrooms at DFW Airport without changing tables. We wandered until we found a “family restroom” to change the baby.

Change your baby often

It’s not easy to change a baby on a plane since your choices are changing him on your lap or in the cramped, dirty airplane bathroom. I recommend changing him often in the airport where you have adequate room.

Grab a bite near your gate

If you have a layover and need to grab a meal between flights, eat near your departure gate. That way you won’t be running through the airport with baby, trying to get to your gate, when your meal takes longer than anticipated.

Feed baby

I found the time before and between flights was perfect for a quick meal for my little one. I fed him more on the plane, but the pre-flight snack insured he wasn’t starving as we were boarding.


I was super excited about my first pre-boarding experience and it was great. No rushing to get to the front of the line or worrying that there wouldn’t be room for my carry-on in the overhead bins.

On the Plane: Flying with Baby

Make sure baby is fed

A hydrated, well-fed baby is a happy baby. Nervous about breastfeeding on the plane? Forty-five states have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public, but people have been known to complain about breastfeeding moms on planes. If you’re traveling with another adult or child, have him sit in the middle and you can take the window; it will give you more privacy. You might also want to bring a Hooter Hider or blanket to cover up (but don’t feel like you have to). I didn’t have any problems breastfeeding on any of the four legs of our trip.

Nurse during take-off and landing

Sucking on something can help keep baby’s ears clear so he’s not in pain during the flight. If you’re not breastfeeding, offer a pacifier or your (clean) finger.

Have a plan for changing baby

No one wants to have to change a baby’s diaper on a plane, but any parent knows that blow-outs happen at the most inconvenient times. Be prepared in case it happens to you. Where will you change baby? What will you need? How will you handle the logistics? Here are some tips for changing baby on a plane.

If baby cries, don’t fret

Our little one was great on the way to our destination and cried much of the way back. He refused to nurse or take a pacifier and none of the usual tricks worked. For the most part, people around us were sympathetic; many of them had been in our position before. And the white noise of the plane helped drown out his cries. I found it was easiest to change my baby on my lap.

Traveling with a baby and flying with your baby doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Just follow these tips and you’ll be prepared for whatever the airlines — and your little ones — throw at you. Do you have any tips for traveling with a baby or flying with a baby? 

Photo credits: brownpau, StubbyFingers

Children Flying Alone ~ What Every Parent Should Know

The holiday season is a busy one for air travel, including children flying alone. November to January sees the highest number of unaccompanied minors as kids travel to visit parents and other relatives. Recently, our 11-year-old son, Calvin, flew alone on Alaska Airlines when he traveled from a Portland, Oregon soccer tournament to join us for a family vacation in Orange County, California. With lightweight luggage in hand, what could have been a stressful process was made easy by remembering the following tips.

Tips for Children Flying Alone

Flying with kids can be stressful, but going through TSA screening doesn’t have to be. Learn the best ways to prepare when traveling with children so you and your family can get through TSA quickly and safely.

Flying alone can be a daunting experience, especially for children. With the right preparation and support, however, it can also be an exciting and rewarding experience. Here are some tips to help make your child’s first solo flight a success. From packing the right items to understanding airline policies, these tips will help ensure that your child is safe and comfortable while in transit. With these tips in hand, you can rest assured knowing that your little one is in good hands when they fly alone.

Plan on additional forms

After booking a flight online for an unaccompanied minor, almost all airlines will direct you immediately to a Guardian Contact Form. Fill this out carefully. Your child will not be released to anyone who is not listed on the form.

Plan for additional fees

We paid a $25 unaccompanied minor fee on Alaska Airlines, but fees can reach as high as $50 each way. Plan accordingly! Also bear in mind that it is likely your minor will check luggage (to keep hands free), so luggage fees may apply as well. No doubt about it: children flying alone will cost more. On some airlines, younger children incur higher fees than older children.

Plan on arriving early

This goes for departure and arrival: children flying alone need to be at the airport a minimum of 90 minutes before departure to ensure the adult escort has time to procure an escort pass. An escort pass allows the parent or other guardian to walk the child all the way to his or her gate. This means going through security like any other passenger. Try to be at the gate 30 minutes before departure, and check in at the podium. In many cases, children flying alone can board first. At the arriving end, the guardian escort will also need to secure an escort pass and allow time to go through security to pick up the child at the gate. Make sure this adult is the same one listed on the escort form. The airline representative at the gate will not release the child to anyone else. Have ID ready.

Keep your child’s age in mind

For most airlines, children ages 5-17 can fly as unaccompanied minors. Kids ages 5-7 are restricted to direct flights only. I recommend booking only direct flights for older children as well, when possible. Make sure your child has easy access to in-flight entertainment such as books, magazines, or video games. Check bags even if you usually fly carry-on only as a family: it will be easier for your child to keep track of only a backpack or tote. Find out if the airline will provide a snack and/or a drink. Explain this process to your child. Tip: stock up on snacks because on most airlines children cannot buy snacks in flight with cash.

Choose your airline carefully

I am not paid to say so, but I recommend Alaska Airlines for their friendly service, helpful website, and easy booking process. When buying tickets for kids flying solo, picking a family-friendly airline will eliminate stress. Ask around to friends and family who have children who have flown alone. Which airline did they use?

Explain the Process to Children Flying Alone

While on-board, your child should feel safe, secure, and able to ask for help. Letting your child know what to expect days in advance of the flight can alleviate stress. It will give him or her time to think about it ahead of time. It will enable them to come up with questions to ask you before boarding the plane. It will make them feel prepared and alleviate stress if you come to them in a calm manner and explain the process.

  • If they have an assigned seat explain where to look for the seat number. (On Southwest Airlines they aren’t assigned.)
  • Let them know about being able to talk to the flight attendants.
  • Let them know to expect and to pay attention to the safety talk or video before the plane takes off.
  • Explain their bag of personal items will have to be stowed under the seat in front of them during take-off and landing.
  • Tell them about the tray table in front of them. Let them know if they have a window seat, that the shade can be raised and lowered. Tell them to look out the window for a great view!
  • Tell him or her about the call button, and explain why and when it can be used.
  • Talk about the small bathroom on the plane and about the one in the front that does not allow a line to form.
  • Explain to them about the “fasten seat belt” sign and rule and to wear a seat belt when seated.
  • Explain that during the beginning and end of the flight, that they will have to turn off electronic devices. They should listen for the announcement.
  • If the flight is long enough, explain about the snack and drink the flight attendant will offer them.

Be sure you talk to your child in advance about what to expect. It will help to relieve anxiety and hopefully get them excited about the flight.

Being Prepared Before a Child Flies Alone

Flights are delayed, weather is sometimes bad, and other things out of your control may happen. However, you can do your best to control in advance many things in order to ensure a positive airline experience for your children flying alone.

Packing Carry-On Luggage with Kids ~ Tips to Make it Easier

The sheer horror of lost luggage is enough incentive for families to pack carry-on luggage only, but with nearly all airlines charging checked luggage fees, doing so will also ease the burden on your wallet. Whether you have children flying alone or everyone is going together, it can be done. And it will give your kids an opportunity to be responsible for and to manage their own things. Following the tips below will have you packing light on your next family vacation.

Use the ‘roll’ method or packing cubes when packing

Research shows that rolling clothes instead of folding them saves 30% more space in a duffel or suitcase. Line the bag with bulkier items such as shoes, then roll heavier clothing, like pants and jeans, on the bottom. Layer next with shirts, t-shirts, and lastly, undergarments and socks. Packing cubes can be essential to packing organization. I use shoe cubes to keep kids’ socks and underwear organized. Many families use cubes to pack by day, making complete outfits for each child in each cube.

Pack more shirts than each child needs, and half as many pants

Assuming your family vacation is not taking you too far into the wild unknown, the majority of messes will occur to your child’s shirts (think food spills, sweat, and sticky hands wiping). Pants and shorts can often be re-worn. Also, if you are a picture-taking family, it is nice to have your children in different shirts. Try to find clothes that do double duty, such as pants that zip off to become shorts, and sun protection shirts that can be worn during active play. Likewise, try to restrict each child to two pairs of shoes: a sturdy pair of walking/hiking shoes (to be worn on the plane) and a pair of destination and season-appropriate sandals or boots. *Does not apply if you have a potty-training child.

Rent baby equipment at your destination

By far the bulkiest part of the packing equation is baby gear such as portable cribs and play spaces, strollers, seats, and baby feeding equipment. Whether your destination is a hotel or resort or a relative’s home, there are numerous companies renting all of the above to vacationing families. Most allow parents to reserve the desired equipment online ahead of time, and will deliver equipment to their door.

When we rent a car, we rent the car seats directly from the car rental company. Be prepared to safely and correctly install the car seat yourself. And if your child is still in the logistically-difficult baby food stage, companies such as Petit Organics will deliver organic, hand-processed baby food as well.

Be prepared to do laundry

No one wants to do laundry on vacation, but with a little preparation, it doesn’t have to ruin your day. We always pack 2-3 mesh laundry bags, which compact to almost nothing while empty. Travel-sized laundry detergent containers and stain remover can be purchased in TSA-approved sizing, and a roll of quarters can make finding change for washing machines far less painful. When we went on a month-long trip last summer, we bought boxes of one-load-sized detergent from the hotel desk. They also made change for us for the washer and dryer.

Take advantage of the carry-on plus purse rule

In addition to each ticketed passenger’s carry-on, he or she is permitted a personal purse, tote, or backpack. Since hauling a family’s worth of carry-on luggage can be a challenge enough, consider foregoing each passenger’s right to bear a backpack and consolidate to only one or two totes or packs for family use. In addition to each passenger’s carry-on, we designate one large tote for in-air entertainment, which carries our laptop, iPad, and each family member’s book or Kindle. We allow for one backpack for snacks, medications, water bottles (to be filled post-security) and other essentials.

Board as early as possible

Because so many travelers are now packing carry-on luggage to avoid fees, those bulk-head luggage bins fill up quickly. And when they’re full, you’ll be forced to check bags against your will. If you’re carting several large carry-on roller boards or duffels, board the plane as soon as you’re able. Doing so will ensure there’s still space for your carry-ons.

Gate check for free

If you’re carrying-on only for the cost-savings, and don’t mind waiting at the baggage carousel for your bags at your destination, almost all airlines will offer free checking at the gate, as an incentive for travelers to save some cabin space. On smaller commuter flights, gate-checked bags will usually be waiting for you on a cart directly off the plane. Be aware that on longer flights, they’ll be checked all the way through to your final destination. 

Note: Remember the 3-1-1 rule!

The 3-1-1 rule states that you cannot bring any liquid or gel that’s more than three ounces. These must be carried in one quart-sized clear, zip-lock bag. We love the reusable kind for this purpose.

When Packing Carry-On May Not Work

Carry-on travel is possible even during extended or long-term travel (thanks mostly to the laundry tip!), but there are situations in which it just may not be practical. During winter vacations, for which bulky snow or ski wear or multiple layers are needed. For adventure travel, during which a wide-variety of clothing types will be needed (think hiking gear and snorkeling gear. During multi-climate travel, during which several drastic weather changes may necessitate bringing both winter and summer wear.

Packing Carry-On Luggage – A Final Tip

Many families we know will go to even bigger extremes. They purposely bring old clothes to leave behind in hotels. If they are still in decent condition. Or they just throw them away. They pack a few old shirts or other clothing that they plan to wear on the trip, and then discard them, leaving room for souvenirs, or just to enjoy a lighter load on the return trip to home.