by Erin Sforza
Security screening can be an intimidating experience these days. As a new mom about to fly with an infant for the first time, I had a few questions and was sure I wasn’t the only one. Here are five things I found are essential to making security check-in a much less stressful part of your holiday season.
Be Prepared Make sure you check the TSA guidelines as they change often. Arrive early for screening, and make sure your liquids are packed according to the rules. If you are a nursing mom who needs to carry breast milk onboard, it is considered a medical liquid and is eligible to be hand-screened. I was assured by a TSA representative at JFK that this is available for both frozen and liquid breast milk (you’re not supposed to put breast milk in the microwave, so I’m not crazy about the thought of my daughter’s milk being x-rayed), and the TSA customer service line also suggested a doctor’s note stating I would be carrying both frozen and fresh milk for my daughter’s medical needs. The TSA’s top tip for families was to pack lighter for carry on. Also, have no fears about being asked to take your children through the controversial new imagers and back-scatter machines, they are not allowed to go through them.
Get Ready When you arrive at the airport, step off to the side and take a few minutes to make sure everything is set and in place to be screened. Head towards the family-friendly screening lines where you’ll feel much less rushed and won’t feel as if every other traveler wishes they had been the person ahead of you. Make sure all of your identification, boarding passes, and medical documents are ready to hand to your screener and begin to place your items on the belt, taking a moment to make sure everything is accounted for before moving through screening. If you can wear slip on shoes, this helps as well.
Don’t Be Shy If you have items like breast milk that you need to declare for hand-screening, do so as you approach the screeners, and repeat this to any other screeners you encounter to make sure everyone is aware.
Take Your Time As soon as your whole family is through screening, don’t feel you have to hurry out of the way of other travelers. Make sure you have all of your family members and all of your belongings before you leave the security area, as retrieving them is time consuming. The TSA representative from JFK told me that families very often rush off without personal belongings, and the number one thing left behind is their laptop. A few extra moments are worth making sure you have everything you need.
I’ll be putting these very suggestions into practice this holiday season for the first time, and my next blog will let you know how it goes. I’ll make sure to pass along what I experience and any other tips to make your TSA experience smoother this holiday season.
Erin Sforza is an Independent Travel Coordinator affiliated with MouseEarVacations.com® and CruisingCo.com® and lives on Long Island with her husband and daughter. Contact her by email at ErinS@CruisingCo.com to book your family’s next adventure!