Many of us watched stunned as we heard Lucy scream, “I don’t want to go to Disney World”, as she suffered through a torturous experience with TSA. If you are not familiar with this incident please see LUCY’S ORDEAL, but be warned it will tear at your heart strings. I know my anger would boil with this mistreatment but to hear my child say they didn’t want to go to Disney World, well, that would bring out my fighting side. In situations like this I am usually careful at pointing fault with the screeners, but the TSA did admit responsibility and heavily apologized. However, there is a line between doing your job and being mean. Yes, this story has a happy ending, Lucy did go to Disney World, and she did get photographed with Mickey. Disney magic comes through once again!
What I want to do in this short article is give some helpful information for air travel screening with children and especially children in wheelchairs.
- Any loose items your child is carrying, such as stuffed animals or blankets, go ahead and drop these in your carry on bag before screening. Have your child prepared to give up their stuffed Mickey for a short amount of time; don’t make it a surprise trauma once you arrive at the gate.
- You may carry your baby through the metal detector. TSA does not specify what age range “baby” infers.
- All baby equipment such as strollers, baby carriers, and baby slings must go through the x-ray machine. If they aren’t able to fit, TSA personnel will inspect them. Parents should be prepared for this so it is not a huge hassle at game time. It will help if you already have your child out and stroller folded. You may keep items in your stroller to pass through the machine.
- I know this might be the hardest of all, but wake your child up in plenty of time before proceeding to the screening area. We all know our children can be the grumpiest when woken up and that could make the screening process ever so more difficult.
The following guidelines for Children With Medical Conditions, Mobility Aids Or Disabilities comes straight from the TSA website:
- Please inform the Transportation Security Officer if the child has a disability, medical condition or medical devices, and if you think the child may become upset during the screening process as a result. You can offer suggestions on how to best accomplish the screening process to minimize any confusion for the child.
- Please tell the Security Officer what the child’s abilities are. For example: whether the child can walk through the metal detector or can they be carried through the metal detector by the parent/guardian.
- At no time should the Security Officer remove your child from his/her mobility aid (wheelchair or scooter). You are responsible for removing your child from his/her equipment, at your discretion, to accomplish screening.
- If your child is unable to walk or stand, the Security Officer will use alternate measures to screen your child while he/she remains in their mobility aid, that may include a visual and physical inspection of their equipment.
- If you’re traveling alone, please ask a Security Officer for assistance in putting your and the child’s carry-on items on the X-ray belt.
Hopefully these tips and guidelines will help everyone with children enjoy a more relaxing airport experience. I know for my family our Disney vacation begins the moment we get in the car and head to the airport. We discuss everything about the upcoming visit and once we arrive at the airport the children love visiting the way overpriced shops, people watching, plane watching, and even more Disney planning. As a friend of mine recently stated, “many people think vacation starts once we reach the destination…nope, it starts with the ‘looking forward’ then builds with the trip and then lasts until the return home, only to be revived with memories when we look at one another and say, ‘That was awesome!’ “