Most people are accustomed to hearing their parents talk about how things used to be harder in the old days i.e. “We walked to school uphill both ways.” However, if you’ve flown with young kids recently, you know that in this case, it’s just not true. Going through security with little kids under today’s restrictions is an absolute nightmare. I actually feel bad for the people behind us as we line up our two car seats, four bags, four coats, four pairs of shoes, toys, and computers to go through the x-ray. This is in addition to having to remember to keep our boarding passes in our hands and taking all of the kid’s drinks, packaged food and medicine out of our carry on bag, all of which has to be packed in small clear plastic bags. Last but not least, we need to be careful not to put a child through the x-ray machine in all the commotion.
Then there is the issue of food. With the exception of JetBlue, most airlines don’t even offer free snacks anymore. So like many parents, we bring our own snacks, especially on long flights. Two months ago, in Ft Lauderdale, at 6:30am, the TSA confiscated my daughter’s breakfast, which was a small yogurt that they claimed was in the “gel” family. Needless to say, she was hysterical and we could not find another yogurt within security. Last month, we made sure to stock up for a 6 1/2 hour flight to Los Angeles, given that American Airlines does not serve any food other than paid snacks. However, the TSA folks confiscated our six packages of diced peaches, which the kids live on, because they were suspended in liquid. They also took our ice pack which was keeping the kid’s sandwiches cold and we had to dump out the kid’s cups full of water and juice. We were told by the TSA folks that the ice pack would have been allowed if it had been keeping milk or formula cold, but we could not have it for food. I’m sorry, but how does that make it less of a threat? Anyway, we fought hard about the peaches, offering to eat them and asking the TSA rep to run a bomb detection test on them, but it was to no avail.
Common sense really needs to prevail with respect to airline safely. It’s hard enough to travel with kids, but these blanket TSA rules, combined the lack of food being served on the airlines, creates a major headache. Parents are essentially forced to take their chances on overpriced stores within the security area. It’s time for the airports to consider a special dedicated family screening area, where the parents won’t be as rushed and some more senior TSA officials can help make judgment calls on which breakfast and snacks items are or are not a threat to national security. It’s been well documented how Israel’s flagship carrier, El Al, focuses on personal interviews and human judgment to provide what is considered the best security in the world. This is far more effective than blanket rules which are likely ineffective because they are targeting yesterday’s terrorist tactics. Instead, they make an already difficult situation even more so for parents who travel with young children.