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TSA Guidelines for Children Changing

I have some sympathy for adults who are subjected to physical pat-downs. Even though it doesn’t bother me, I understand that other people are sensitive about physical contact of any kind with strangers. And while I have my doubts about how successful airport security is at keeping us safe, there’s no point in pulling my hair out over it. As long as people are blowing themselves up in airports and trying to get onto planes, we’re stuck with these procedures.

TSA guidelines for children

But security screenings of kids can push my buttons. I know that determined people wouldn’t hesitate to use children, the elderly or the disabled to cause death and destruction, but I can’t somehow feel irked at the thought of a kid receiving a pat-down. Luckily, the TSA has started loosening its rules on screening children.

Changing Rules

Kids under 13 now get to keep their shoes on going through screening. Those kids will also be able to go through metal detectors multiple times if they set one off. Agents can also opt out of giving a child a pat-down by swabbing the child’s hands for traces of explosives.

These changes are neither universal nor constant, though. Kids can still be asked to remove their shoes or receive a pat-down, and agents will be varying their practices to keep things unpredictable. Still, it’s better than the stonewalling the organization has shown on the subject of kid-screening up till now.

TSA Rules Are Mostly the Same

Other rules remain basically unchanged, so here’s a quick rundown of what to expect when travelling with your kids through US airports.

  • You have to take infants out of their carriers before going through the X-ray machine — duh.
  • All strollers and baby bags still have to be sent through x-ray machines, and anything too large to go through will be inspected.
  • If your kids can walk, agents may ask that they walk through metal detectors on their own.
  • You can opt out of the advanced imaging scanners to avoid being separated from your kids.
  • You might want to avoid holding your kid in a sling or harness because agents can decide to pull you aside for additional screening, whether a machine signals an alert or not.
  • TSA has special screening guidelines for children with disabilities. If your child has special needs, or is in a wheelchair, you’ll want to review those procedures beforehand.

Children are usually a small percentage of air travelers in the US. What has your experience been like traveling with your little ones?

image by USA Today

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