Nightmare at Airport Security with Kids

We as conscientious travelers have experienced airport security checkpoints and felt frustrated by the daunting challenges we’ve had to face. The accuracy, the reality, and the efficacy of those methods have been questioned time and time again by so many people in so many ways. I just want to point out how we experienced these on our recent travel across the globe—with kids at that.

What does a security check really mean?

Is it the last frontier of safe travels? Some say it is, and we’ve all experienced long lines of waiting at security checkpoints. While our toddlers become bored and frustrated, it makes the wait more difficult and unpleasant to endure under the scrutiny of fellow travelers. As anyone can see, most travelers are on their smartphones, thumbing through whatever they find to get distracted and while away the time. Others, on the other hand, try to open up a conversation with those around them and share the frustrations they’re going through.

If you travel by air long enough, you know the reality that (almost) everything you have on has to come off and be placed in multiple trays that go through an X-ray machine, only to be scrutinized by a stranger behind it. Everything is questionable, and you pray to God that your items will be fine, and that you’ll avoid an unwanted public humiliation by a TSA agent. There are also times when you pass the test so well that TSA agents want to scrutinize you a bit more in order to get to know you better.

While we were at a security checkpoint, we were asked to take everything out—not even a piece of paper or a tissue could be left in a pocket. Why? Do TSA agents think it might contain something so suspicious? Or how do they even know that someone kept a dirty tissue to avoid embarrassment? Everyone felt it was inappropriate, but we all followed those orders like cattle in order to get through and head to our departure gates.

Do we all follow the rules?

It’s a no. Try to play this game with a baby or a toddler. Ask them to empty their pockets, or tell them to place a bottle or their toys they hold onto dearly in a tray. Trust me, you won’t win. They don’t care about what you think or what you want. Their thinking process is different.

“It’s my toy,” and “that’s my bottle. You aren’t taking it and I’m keeping it.” TSA agents might ask kids to take a sip of the bottle, only to hear “I ain’t drinking it, and it’s still mine,” or “no, my mommy can’t taste it, either.” Most times, TSA agents let it go, and the kids pass through security. When my children went through the metal detector, they stopped to admire the red LED lights. They could be checked with a metal detector wand if they sound the alarm system, but all they wanted was to count those red lights. So, it becomes relative and selective to what TSA agents can really check.

Then, of course, electronics, especially laptops, have to go in a separate tray to be scanned. When you travel with two kids, two strollers and five trays worth of stuff we have to take with us, it’s an impossible task to pack everything up quickly after scanning. In the meantime, your pants desperately need the support of your belt to avoid the humiliation of showing your butt crack to the world, all the while getting the stink eye of fellow travelers for not being fast enough. I totally get it. If I were a single traveler, I’d do the same. However, you have to live in a parent’s shoes to understand. With the hopes of putting the ordeal behind us and reaching our destination on a smooth flight, it isn’t as easy as you think.

Oh no,  another checkpoint!

Passing through one security checkpoint isn’t enough? Here’s a partial and a pseudo security checkpoint. I’ve never understood this one. Why does anyone have to go through another security area while transiting from one flight to the other from the same company. I could see our gate, but we still had a barrier to overcome. This process doesn’t really make sense to me, especially when we’ve traveled over 15 hours with kids on a sardine-packed airplane to go through another security point in order to catch a 6-hour connecting flight.

Don’t we as travelers already endure too much hassle and inconveniences? It’s a never ending process. What’s the reason behind this process? Do airport authorities think that travelers will sneak items from one security point to another while transiting? If the answer is no, then why another hurdle? If the answer is yes, I want to know how it’s possible. It didn’t even feel like a security point, but a waste of my time. They limited the security process to laptops, coins, and all electronics. Thank God, right? Luckily, we got to keep our stinky shoes on after a long journey, and I’m sure everyone breathed a sigh of relief that a collective stinky-shoe odor didn’t settle upon the whole area.

Is this checkpoint smart? Did TSA agents become so fed up with the stinky smell that they abandon the shoe-removing process? They may have figured that out well.

To give you an idea of what children thought of the long lines,  one of them got so tired of waiting that he sat on the floor and refused to move an inch. Then my other toddler decided to follow suit, creating a funny moment while sitting in the middle of the line and saying: “ I don’t want it.”  We had to bribe them to move. It was really an unnecessary screening to go to the next gate. We almost missed our connecting flight because our layover window was so limited due to weather delays and technical issues.

Conclusion

Don’t get me wrong. Security checkpoints are necessary and do a service of reassurance as the last frontiers of safe travels. Are they perfect? No, nothing is perfect, and there are lot of improvements to make it a perfect system. Until then, we have to abide by the rules of a defected system. And as always, unnecessary steps are in place to make the journey a little (more) complicated, or a little (more) interesting. Wouldn’t it be nice if the system eased up a little, so that we could all enjoy air travel by sticking to the essential steps to keep us all secure?

Have an opinion about today’s airport security? Share your comments with us.

finally, arrived

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