Getting through airport security with kids


Getting through airport security can be frustratingly complicated and frantic at the best of times- queues, tighter luggage restrictions, people milling about everywhere… it’s already stressful enough, but throw children into the mix too and an impending nervous breakdown almost seems inevitable!

So how can you simplify your journey through airport security with kids? Read on to find out…


Use the fast lane

If there’s an option to fast track your way through security, take it. It might cost a little extra but avoiding the queues and hassle of waiting around with little ones, plus not having to rush your way through security, means you can sail through the standard safety procedures and begin your holiday in a cool and calm manner. Top tip for travelling with kids- if there is a means of avoiding unnecessary stress, then take it!

Know your restrictions

There’s nothing worse than reaching the scanners and having to frantically comb through your bag to dig out gadgets that’ve sunk to the bottom, or faff around having to throw out things you didn’t know you couldn’t bring. Make sure you keep all gadgets and electronics at the top of your bag, ready to be screened separately and fully charged as you may be required to switch them on, plus adhere carefully to liquid restrictions- you can find full guidance on our family hand luggage restrictions blog HERE. To keep things simple, you could even pack a smaller bag inside your main one which contains all liquids/gadgets, which you can easily take out and place in the trays at the scanner machines.

Dress sensibly

Try and avoid belts, numerous metallic hair slides, metal jewellery, loose change/keys from your pockets or anything else that’ll set off the scanners and is difficult to remove quickly. Make sure both you and your little ones are wearing shoes that are easy to get on and off, plus jackets and coats that can be taken off quickly. Try and remove what you can before you reach the scanners, particularly when it comes to little ones, to help avoid any last minute tantrums and holding the queues up whilst you get your kids sorted.


Get everybody up and about

If you’re travelling with a pushchair it will need to be scanned at security by going through the machine separately, so your little one will have to be woken up and carried through. Avoid last minute screaming fits by gently waking your child before you reach the scanners, so that they have a bit of time to take in what’s going on.

Talk things through

Security can be scary and stressful for young children, particularly if they’re not used to flying. If your child is old enough to understand, offer some kind of appropriate explanation and reassurance so that they don’t feel too overwhelmed.

Prevent escapees

If you’ve got a baby who loves to crawl away and nobody to hold them whilst you’re getting sorted at the scanners, place them in a security tray on the floor. It might sound silly, but you’re not usually allowed to ask the security guards to hold your child whilst they’re on duty, so it’ll help keep your baby in one place long enough for you to sort yourself out! (Note: do not be tempted to send your baby through the scanner machine)

Tag team it

If you’re travelling with another adult, send them through security first and leave them in charge of getting all your stuff through the scanner machine. Once they’ve gone through the scanners, bring the children through yourself afterwards. This means you have someone responsible for organising and catching your belongings as they go in and out of the machine and someone to look after the kids whilst your belongings are being organised, allowing you to head off more quickly.


Leave yourself plenty of time

Queues can take a long time at security! Don’t leave it till the last minute to arrive, especially when travelling with young children. Rushing will just leave you feeling stressed and panicked.

Avoid tantrums

If your little one is kicking off because they don’t want to part with their favourite stuffed animal/toy/blanket as they go through security, tell them that the security guards want to say hello to it or take a picture of it because they like it so much. Making the security guards seem less frightening and keeping things fun and happy for your child will help to head off any tantrums before they have time to take full force.

If your child does decide to throw a wobbly, don’t get wound up or upset- keep as calm as possible, which will help calm your child, and steer them through security as quickly as you can, so that you can deal with their tantrums once you’ve gone through to a more spacious area. Remember that most other people will sympathise if your child gets upset (it happens!) and worse case scenario, they’ll just have to wait till you can get your child through. It’s not the end of the world if you cause a bit of a hold up!

Make a swift exist

Don’t try and get everyone dressed again and bags re-packed as soon as the trays come off the scanner, as you’ll block the way for everyone else and feel rushed. Instead, gather up the lot and throw it on the pushchair or carry it over to the nearest bench (there are usually some located just behind security for this very purpose) so you can have plenty of time to make sure you’ve got everything/everyone present and ready.

If you’ve got any more top tips for steering kids through security, we’d love to hear your stories/advice!


Other blogs you might like:

10 key tips for flying with toddlers and babies

A family guide to the best child-friendly UK airports

Airlines with infants- specific flight company information

Dealing with airport delays when you are travelling with children


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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson is the Social Media Manager at Tots to Travel, Mum of 2, lover of France & Greece, talented knitter and loves any kind of crafting with her girls.

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar November 2, 2016 / 7:20 am

    Ensuring the security of children is very important during airport screening. TSA officers should consult parents or the traveling guardian about the best way to relieve any concerns during the screening of a child.

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