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Holiday travel: Avoid these top five airport security mistakes


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

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