It takes a lot of time and energy to get through airport security screening. Add to that traveling with small children and the stress of toting all the extra bags, it is a major challenge. As a former TSA Security screener, I saw my share of overstressed parents and very confused children.
My first week on the job as an airport security screener, I was at the Walk Through Metal Detector (WTMD). A family of five approached the divesting table. Mom and Dad were no doubt stressed out. Dad tells his four and six-year-old to walk through the WTMD. Dad goes next and alarms. I stop Dad and tell him to divest all metal and walk through again. In the meantime, the kids are running around having a ball, and Dad is frantically yelling for them to come back. The kids ignore dad. Dad walks through and alarms again. Now he is required to go through secondary screening. I have never seen a man turn that shade of red before. In the meantime, Mom is desperately trying to collapse the stroller while holding the baby and taking off her shoes at the same time. Dad is yelling at Mom to hurry because he is stuck in secondary screening and the boys are still running around. I hope that those parents learned something that day. I know I did.
First of all, Dad and Mom should have controlled their family by keeping the kids between them. Dad holds the baby so Mom can take off her shoes and then he gives back the baby to Mom. Dad collapses the stroller and places it on the x-ray belt with all the bags and bins, and walks through first while Mom watches the kids. After Dad gets through, one by one the kids go through. Finally, Mom and baby go through together. See how easy that could have been?
After witnessing this family's circus act, I decided I would teach passengers how to make the process a pleasant experience. It is the parents responsibility to control their children and for the children to listen to their parents; however, we know this is not the case some of the time. I had a bird's eye view of how things needed to be orchestrated, and from that day on, I took command of the WTMD. After that day, passengers had no problems walking through with me there guiding them.
On another day, I witnessed a young couple make a big mistake by allowing their three-year-old to walk through the WTMD by himself. First, the child stops and starts to walk, which is incorrect. You must walk through without stopping. Second, the child teeters and holds onto the side of the metal detector, and now the child has alarmed. Don't allow this at the WTMD. Carry your young children; it is easier for everyone involved.
1. Prepare you children in advance. They will need to divest all of their toys, dolls, or security blankets for screening.
2. Expect the screener to require everyone to remove his or her shoes (think slip-ons).
3. Collapse your stroller and place it on the x-ray belt. Parents help each other out. It helps to buy a stroller that will collapse at a touch of a button.
4. One adult should walk through the metal detector first, then the children. Follow this order to keep the family unit together.
5. Carry your child if he or she will not follow your directions or is upset (remember that children do not understand what is going on).
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Natalia Ippolito, author of: I MIGHT AS WELL BE
NAKED: How to Survive Airport Screening With
Your Clothes On.
Tips, tricks, techniques and strategies from a former Airport Screener! Receive her free Tip of The Week at www.IMightAsWellBeNaked.com
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