Getting the Family Through Security Effortlessly

You might be concerned about getting through Security at the airport with your kids.  The best advice, besides getting to the airport early so you have plenty of time and little stress, is to know the rules ahead, follow them, and prepare your children for the experience.  Review the rules outlined below.  You should always check the TSA website if you have questions as it changes often.   I have cut/paste their wording on this page for accuracy.  Check the site anyway.  It is always the final source.  btw, TSA stands for Transportation Security Administration.

TSA Website

TSA Family Website

  • Acceptable ID

    Travel to Europe requires a passport.  You’ll need a passport for every member of your family including all children.  You’ll be required to show the passports with your boarding passes to the TSA agents.  Some countries require that your passport be valid for three to six months after the last day of your stay.

    The TSA agents will likely speak directly to your children and ask them their names and who you are.   TSA is looking for possible child abduction cases.

    If International Travel is with Only One Parent

    Minors who are not accompanied by both parents should always carry a notarized authorization to travel that is signed by the absent parent. Do this even if you don’t think you’ll be asked.  Don’t take a chance.  We are providing a “sample form” below.   Complete any form with the  full names and addresses of the child, both parents and the child’s traveling companions.  Carry a copy of the child’s medical insurance card along with notarized permission for the responsible adult to authorize medical treatment.  These are responsible precautions!

    If a parent is deceased, note that fact in the document.  Carry a copy of the death certificate.  If one parent has sole custody and the other parent is unavailable to sign a document, carry a copy of the court order clarifying custody.  If the child might be considered to have dual citizenship in the country visited, these items should be considered mandatory by the traveling parent to avoid any question by the TSA.  The US Govt takes no chances with child abduction cases.

    Here are some sample forms.  You can write your own or use a different form.  We are using these as simple suggested forms. Call the TSA is you have any questions.

    Child Travel Consent Form sample

    Child Travel Medical Consent Form sample


  • Review of Adults vs Kids Rules

    TSA is required to screen everyone, regardless of age, in order to ensure the security of all travelers. Many Transportation Security Officers are parents themselves and understand travelers’ concern for their children. Security officers will approach children gently and treat them with respect. If a child becomes uncomfortable or upset, security officers will consult parents about the best way to relieve the child’s concern.

    Screening procedures for passengers 12 and under include:

    • Allowing children 12 and under to leave their shoes on.
    • Allowing multiple passes through the walk through metal detector and advanced imaging technology to clear any alarms on children.
    • Using explosives trace detection technology on a wider basis to resolve alarms on children.

    General Screening Information

    • Children 12 and under can leave their shoes on during screening.
    • TSA will not ask travelers to do anything that will separate them from their child.
    • Passengers cannot leave babies in an infant carrier and attempt to put it through the X-ray machine. Babies should be carried through a walk through metal detector by a parent or guardian.
    • All carry-on baggage, including children’s toys, bags and items, will be screened. Please let your child know that their blanket, favorite stuffed animal or toy will have to go through the X-ray machine and then will be returned to them.
    • All child-related equipment that can fit through the X-ray machine should go through the X-ray machine. Examples include: strollers, umbrella-strollers, baby carriers, car and booster seats, backpacks, and baby slings.
    • If possible, please collapse or fold strollers and any other child-related equipment while in the queue. Please put any items in the stroller pockets or baskets, in a carry-on bag or in the bin X-ray belt for inspection. Plastic bins are provided to deposit such items.
    • If any equipment will not fit through the X-ray machine, security officers will visually and physically inspect it.
    • Ask a security officer for help gathering bags and equipment, if needed.
  • Food & Formula

    Here’s the link to the TSA site:  But, here is what it says:

    Formula, breast milk and juice for infants or toddlers are permitted to be brought on board the aircraft. As with other medically necessary liquids, travelers must tell the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process that they wish to bring formula, breast milk and juice in excess of 3.4 ounces in their carry-on bag. These liquids are typically screened by X-ray, and formula, breast milk and juice in excess of 3.4 ounces will receive additional screening.

    Exemptions from the 3-1-1 Rule

    Liquids in carry-on baggage are ordinarily limited by the 3-1-1 rule, which allows travelers to bring one quart-sized, clear zip-top bag containing liquids no larger than 3.4 ounces. However, travelers flying with or without a child may bring medically necessary liquids, such as formula, breast milk and juice, in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces in their carry-on baggage. The formula, breast milk and juice need not fit within a quart-sized bag. Travelers are encouraged to travel with only as much formula, breast milk and juice needed to reach their destination. Ice packs and other accessories required to cool formula, breast milk and juice are also permitted through the screening checkpoint and are not bound by the 3-1-1 requirements. Travelers are also allowed to bring gel or liquid-filled teethers, canned, jarred and processed baby food in carry-on baggage and aboard the plane. These items may be subject to additional screening.

    Declaring Formula, Breast Milk, and Juice

    Formula, breast milk and juice in excess of 3.4 ounces or accessories required to transport the liquid on a flight must be declared to the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process. If a traveler does not want formula, breast milk and juice to be X-rayed or opened, the traveler must inform the officer before screening begins.

    Screening Formula, Breast Milk, and Juice

    Formula, breast milk and juice for infants or toddlers are screened in the same manner as medically necessary liquids.  Officers may test liquids for explosives or concealed prohibited items. If officers are unable to use X-ray to clear these items, they may ask for the container to be opened and may also ask the traveler to transfer to a separate container or dispose of a small quantity of liquid, if feasible.  TSA suggests traveling with an empty container and avoid filling the container to the top. If the formula, breast milk and juice cannot be X-rayed or opened, officers may be required to take additional steps to clear the liquid as well as conduct additional screening, which may include a pat-down of the traveler and screening of the remainder of the traveler’s accessible property.

    The Food and Drug Administration states that there are no known adverse effects from eating food, drinking beverages and using medicine that has been screened by X-ray.  For more information about X-ray screening, read the safety reports for X-ray screening.

    When traveling with an infant or toddler, please keep these important tips in mind:

    • Separate formula, breast milk and juice from 3-1-1 liquids, gels and aerosols.
    • Declare any non-3-1-1 items to transportation security officers as you prepare your property for X-ray screening.
    • Present these items for additional inspection once reaching the X-ray.
  • TSA Pre-Clearance Program

    TSA Pre✓™ allows low-risk travelers to experience expedited, more efficient security screening at participating U.S. airport checkpoints for domestic and international travel.

    What does TSA Pre™ mean for travelers?

    TSA Pre™ Experience:

    • Quicker transit through airport security screening
    • Faster moving lines
    • Improved travel experience
    No Removal of:

    • Belt
    • Shoes
    • Light outerwear/jacket
    • 3-1-1 compliant bag and laptop from carry-on
    1. How do I enroll in TSA Pre™?
      A. The TSA Pre✓™ application program is one of four Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Trusted Traveler programs. TSA Pre✓™ allows low-risk travelers to experience expedited, more efficient security screening at participating U.S. airport checkpoints for domestic and international travel. Learn more about the TSA Pre✓™ application process.
    2. Will I receive expedited screening every time I fly?
      A. TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport and no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening in order to retain a certain element of randomness. However, passengers who have been issued a Known Traveler Number (KTN) by TSA or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have undergone a vetting process or background check as part of their employment or via a DHS Trusted Traveler program. Since TSA knows more about these passengers they are more likely to be eligible for TSA Pre✓™ screening more often than passengers the agency knows less about. Learn more about joining a DHS Trusted Traveler program.