RISMEDIA, April 16, 2010—Increased airport security measures are good news for airline safety, however, some parents are concerned the tightened security will be an added inconvenience when traveling with kids. To help anxious parents, Family Vacation Critic, the family travel site featuring reviews of family-friendly hotels, resorts and destinations, has created an airport survival guide for those planning to brave the increased airport security and fly with kids in tow.
1. Stay calm: The absolute number one rule is to stay calm and collected. If you are stuck in a line which might make you late for your flight, tell a staff member.
2. Don’t be late: How early you need to arrive at the airport depends upon a variety of factors, including your airline, destination, plans for parking, and whether you are checking baggage. Arrive at least 2 to 3 hours ahead of your scheduled departure time to allow for additional security screening.
3. Check in from home and reserve seats early: Confirm seating when you book or call the airline to ensure you and your children have seats together. Seats at the back of the plane are close to the bathrooms, extra standing area and attendants. Bulkhead seats have extra room but kids are not allowed to sit in exit rows.
4. Get a ride to the airport: If this is not possible and you have to get yourself to the airport, allow extra time for getting to the terminal from public transportation or long-term parking. Curbside check-in and porters are a great help, and well worth the tip when you are loaded down with luggage and kids.
5. Know the security drill: No liquid or gel items over three ounces are permitted in carry-on luggage. Smaller quantities can be carried in quart-sized Ziploc bags, one per person. If, however, you are traveling with an infant or toddler, you can pack breast milk, formula, juice and medications in reasonable quantities. These are not subject to the three ounce rule, but place in a Ziploc and remove from your carry-on to show at security.
6. Divide and conquer: If there are two adults in your party, assign one to gear and one to kids when going through security. Kids who can walk will be expected to pass through the metal detector alone, otherwise you can carry your child. If the alarm sounds, you will be inspected together by an agent, no one will separate you from your children.
7. Keep moving: If you have time on your hands, do not sit still but keep everyone moving to burn off energy. Ask about play areas- many airports now have them, including Philadelphia, Boston, Seattle and Chicago.
8. Get something to eat: Find kid-friendly food options and get everyone fed before you get on the plane. If you are lucky enough to be flying with an airline which still offers meals, order kids’ meals a few days in advance.
9. Take advantage of airline lounges: Airport lounges are often equipped with televisions, games, reading materials, free snacks, free Wi-Fi and clean bathrooms. You will have to pay to enter unless you are traveling first-class or are an elite member of your airline’s frequent flier club. A Platinum American Express card will also gain you entrance into many lounges at no charge.
10. Board on time: Take a walk to the gate ahead of time to see if you will have to go through a second security inspection before boarding and, if so, find out which side of security the final bathroom stop will be. Aim to get to the gate half an hour before boarding and hit the bathroom one last time, despite any protests.
For more information, visit www.familyvacationcritic.com.