So here we are, round two. TSA, the glorified security guards that supposedly keep us safe in the sky. It can be a nightmare to get through the line without a hassle as a solo traveler. Add infants and kids into the mix, well…
My husband and I never had issues getting through TSA pre-baby, that all changed 24 hours after they carved that kid out of me. It’s really kind of amazing. My son was flown to a bigger island for medical care and I had to fly commercial. That meant TSA. Well, at 10pm on a Thursday, in an empty airport, on an inter island flight, in a wheelchair, covered in bandages and hospital bracelets I looked like a threat. My staples set off the metal detector and they decided to pat me down. I cried in pain throughout the whole thing. It’s been downhill ever since.
TSA will tell you, you can bring anything you need for your baby. Baby food, formula, breastmilk, etc. In fact on one such trip the man on one side of the metal detectors told us we could have all these things, and the jerk on the other said we couldn’t. Apparently it’s at their discretion. They can and do make up rules on a whim, and they do it Every. Single. Time. So here are a few tips to make getting past these lunatics easier.
I used to wear a floor length nursing dress I bought at Target. It was comfortable, enabled me to breastfeed discreetly, and had no metal. Well here’s the thing, dresses swing and that apparently confuses the backscatter machines. The last time I wore that dress they scanned me twice with “objects” flaging in different spots. Since there was no way in hell I was having another pat down I hiked that dress up to my thighs and asked them exactly what they thought I was hiding and they let me go. After that trip I went out and bought my only pair of yoga pants. They’re tight so they know I’m not hiding anything, and they don’t move. I wear those with a tight t shirt. I feel embarrassed to be out in sweats, but if it keeps me free of assault I’ll wear them with a smile on my face. For my son I try to make sure his clothes have as little metal as possible. So no onesies with extra snaps, or tiny blue jeans. Just simple tee shirts or basic onesies, and sweat pants for him. I also put him in Robeez since I know they have no metal and he’ll probably be dancing on my lap very soon. I wear no jewelry beyond my wedding rings (real metals can set off the machines if there’s enough of it) and I take my son’s cross off of him.
Carry-Ons, Liquids and Bulky Items
I carry as little as I possibly can with me. Before we used to bring the stroller and it could be a pain to put through the machine. If you have any of the Bugaboo models they can fit through the machine and that’s a lot faster than bulky ones that have to be checked by hand. We also have their travel bag and we would just send it through the machine folded and pack the stroller up at the gate. Now since I’ve taught my son to ride on the suitcase (he stands and holds onto the handle) we check the stroller and carseat at the ticketing counter. If you don’t absolutely need your stroller I suggest you do the same. We get through security much faster. I take out all liquids and I put those along with our baby food pouches into the same bin. If there’s other things in there they sometimes get mad, so just keep it separate. They will hassle you over the baby food every time. They will tell you they have to open every container or pat down one in your party (they don’t, they’re just trying to scare you). So if you can go it without I suggest you do. Put everything in your bags. Even if your kid whines for that special bear, pack it anyways. You can’t have anything in your hands as you pass through the machines and it’ll ensure it doesn’t get filthy or lost.
This might be a waste for you. My husband and I actually went to sign up for this. The guy who did it was soooooo unprofessional. He and the entire office reeked of cigarette smoke (because he took smoking breaks while we were waiting) and had me fill out the customer satisfaction survey in front of him. I don’t give a damn though, I answered honestly. And after that I was approved almost instantly- yet I still wasn’t able to go through the PreCheck line. Something they don’t tell you is that it’s not a guarantee. The TSA “agents” I talked to started by saying it was like 99% of the time you’ll be able to go through the faster line and by the end they said it was more like 70% so who knows. Just don’t plan to show up to the airport an hour before takeoff. Cause if your number doesn’t pop up on your ticket and theres a long line you’re going to miss your flight. Also, if you have a lap child your number won’t pop up on your ticket. This is despite the fact children don’t need a number until they’re 12. So unless we buy my son a ticket every time either my husband or I will still have to go through the regular line. I’m pretty mad about this since I had to pay for them to do a background check on me- something they don’t even do on their own employees! So just be aware of all of this before you take time off of work and pay to get this intermittent service.
Kids & Patdowns
I prefer a DIY approach to this. If you don’t want TSA patting your kid down I highly suggest you do it yourself while you’re waiting in line. I reference my brother. Every time my mother asks him if he’s emptied his pockets, and every time he says he has- then he suddenly remembers the $10 worth of loose change and other crap he’s carrying. So if you’re kid has pockets assume there’s something in them and make them show you, or better yet check them yourself. Too many TSA agents have been outed as being on the Sex Offender registry. It’s pretty horrifying they can’t do simple background checks on their own people, but I guess that would cost too much money. So unless you want your child being felt up by some random perv check every pocket, put them in crocs (no jibbitz) or other shoes you’re positive have no metal, make them take off anything they don’t truly need, no dresses, loose tops, or extra layers. Stay safe!
That’s it for now. Mother’s Day is this weekend in the U.S. so I’ll be celebrating that with my family. The end of the month I’m going to Hawaii for a bit, then I’ll be back. Hopefully I’ll have some time next week to get my next post up. I’m thinking that one will be about the things I bring to keep my son entertained on the flight. Until then, Happy Mother’s Day!