Getting Through
Airport Security

Getting through the security line is stressful enough when you’re traveling alone -- add a few kids, a spouse and the holidays, then watch the fireworks! Here are five mistakes to avoid while going through airport security during the holiday season.

Woman at airport

Airport security mistake #1

Picking the wrong line

Mistake: You wasted time "selecting" what seems to be the best line, only to realize it's the worst (also common at the grocery store but that's another article).

Solution: Pick the family line, even if another line looks shorter.

The Transportation Security Administration (better know as the TSA or uniformed personnel at the security line) offers different lines for different people. Help yourself and your fellow holiday travelers – pick the family travel line. It's better, I promise. It usually jumps you up a few places and is designed a bit wider and easier to navigate, which helps with all your "stuff."

Airport security mistake #2

You and your family have become the reason the line is so long.

Mistake: You have tons of items that can't go through security -- or are going through the wrong way.

Solution: Know what goes on the conveyor belt and have a pre-security line plan.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Only liquids of less than three ounces (except for formula/toddler drinks) are allowed.
  • Liquids must be in a clear plastic bag on the conveyor belt.
  • Take off all jackets, scarves, hats or extraneous clothing and place in a bin.
  • Remove laptops and other technology from bags or other containers and place in a bin.
  • Everyone, take off your shoes (yes, even babies!) and place them on the conveyor belt.
  • Metal items go on the conveyor belt or in a bin.
  • Place strollers, car seats or baby-carrying devices on the conveyor belt.

While you were waiting in line, you should have also been refining your plan -- that is, your pre-security-line plan where everyone understands who is doing what. Don't be afraid to get your little ones involved. They're great helpers when you need them!

Airline security mistake #3 

Oops, you left something at security!

Mistake: You've made it through the security line in one piece – yippee! Unfortunately, you're at the gate and realize you left the baby's blankie behind.

Solution: Have a post-security-line plan in place for after you've made it through the X-rays, keeping your family and your things together. Again, even little ones can help.

Airline security mistake #4 

You dump the baby's formula

Mistake: Someone told you you're not allowed to have it, so you get rid of it. But you know baby is going to be none too happy.

Solution: Pack your baby/toddler liquids separately and, in your pre-security plan, determine who is going to go with a TSA representative to test the liquids.

You can take liquids through security for your baby/toddler, but you need to keep them separate so TSA can test them. You will go with a TSA representative to an area close to the conveyor belts and the representative will test the liquids with a special laser-type device or chemical piece of paper (similar to those sticks you use to test a pool). Although you may have to open the container, the TSA never touches the liquid.

Airline security mistake #5

The big meltdown

Mistake: Your kids (or you!) lose it before you get your bags on the belt.

Solution:  Pack your patience in your carry-on bag!

Security lines are stressful, the holidays are stressful; be prepared for it. Explain to your little ones exactly what is going to happen. It's essential for them to realize shoes are coming off and valuables (that blankie) have to be given up, at least temporarily. Let them know it's just for a few seconds so when you take it from their tiny hands, they won't have a fit.

More holiday travel tips

Tags: airport travel

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Comments on "Holiday travel: Avoid these top five airport security mistakes"

Richard December 22, 2010 | 3:50 PM

Sounds to me like Denise does not fly very much. Just a complainer. I have not yet been x-rayed or 'patted down but have no problem with it. I have greater concern about crazy people who would do harm to me and my family and others. Bravo to the TSA. As for the article, I particularly like the idea of involving the children in the process - makes sense.

Larry H December 14, 2010 | 1:00 PM

Compliant and conditioning are apt terms. Anyone remember 1984 and Brave New World? Or the movie the Running Man

nancy December 14, 2010 | 10:30 AM

I totally agree with Denise. Amtrak and the oil companies will be getting more of my business. Flying is stressful enough but add the indignities you endure just to get to a plane and I am calling it quits with flying.

Denise B. December 14, 2010 | 8:58 AM

This article would have come in handy before the new TSA security measures were implemented. Unfortunately, this information is out-of-date in dealing with these new measures. Now, as implementation of the new measures in each airport occurs, you have the option of going through an x-ray machine that "does" see the person naked with the face hazed (supposedly) and being radiated. Pictures have already been leaked to the internet from these scanners. If you opt out of the "porn scanner", you will receive an enhanced pat down which includes feeling your groin, breasts, and backside after they yell out "we have an opt-out here". No one is exempt from it including babies, children, elderly, those with breast prostectics, etc. Background checks of TSA employees are loose to say the least. So, it's also always possible for a pedophile, mentally ill, or any other such questionable personalities to get a job with the TSA with their loose background checks. Complaints have been piling up and one horror story after another coming out. Of course, the lawsuits are racking up too. Train and bus travel are up and flying is dropping. We have opted to no longer fly rather than being treated like criminals and our 4th Amendment rights violated. These measure "DO NOT" making flying safer. Rather, they condition the populous to be compliant.

Colleen December 14, 2010 | 8:01 AM

Great tips...I have seen so many families dumping formula when its not necessary. Please continue to keep us informed and humoured :)

Hope December 12, 2010 | 10:18 PM

Great tips, especially #5. Explaining to our toddler what is going to happen in the security line has been a lifesaver. Now, he wants his own bin and hurries to take his shoes off to "help".

Zach December 12, 2010 | 8:18 PM

Awesome tips! My "best line" selection has backfired on us a number of times. :-)

christal December 12, 2010 | 6:54 PM

Great advice, Ronnie! It's unfortunate all these measures are necessary, but planning is the key to keep tempers calmed!

Alison Guzzio December 12, 2010 | 4:21 PM

Another great article - you a valuable resource in a very crowded and noisy industry! Keep up the good work, Ronnie!

Kellie December 12, 2010 | 7:39 AM

I'm glad to hear they are letting baby formula and toddler drinks go through now. Awhile back, we had to dump milk and then buy it after going through the line and that was inconvenient. Thanks for all the good tips especially about the family line and the patience which often get left behind!

Debbi December 11, 2010 | 4:59 PM

Thanks so much for the heads up I'm leaving in 2 weeks and I'm keeping this email to go over before I go to the airport.

Tracie Harmon December 11, 2010 | 4:58 PM

This article is priceless with information families must have before taking off to Grannies. If everyone reads this, this will be a jolly holiday season for happy families as well as the TSA and airlines personnel. Very useful and equally entertaining. Hooraay Ronnie!

Dolores December 11, 2010 | 4:07 PM

Ronnie, Great article. Very informative

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