TSA Finally Realizes Kids Aren't Terrorists

airport security, shoesBefore my husband and I had kids, we used to travel -- a lot -- and we continued to fly around the globe on adventures right up until the time our eldest child was born: Carried in utero from the rain forests of Costa Rica to the slopes of the Swiss Alps, our son was one well-traveled fetus.

Then -- quick as you can say, "It's a healthy baby boy!" -- our international travel screeched to a halt. And by the time our second child, a daughter, was born, we'd pretty much stopped flying domestically (outside of the odd trip here and there to visit family), as well.


If you're one of those parents who intrepidly totes their tots to Mexican resorts and European hot spots, I can honestly say I truly admire you. (In fact, I always imagined I'd be you.) But I also wonder how you deal with the long flights and the jet lag and the inarguable need to trade long, leisurely strolls through museums, stopping to study every picture and plaque (as I like to do) with lickety-split trips through those same museums punctuated by chipper, child-friendly "what do you see?" commentary on the way to the cafe.

For us, the decision to ease off of air travel (to the extent that it was a conscious decision) was a combo of the money factor (four tickets cost a lot more than two; double, in fact) and the hassle factor. Just going through airport security as a family became a nightmare -- what with the doffing and redonning of countless sweaters and jackets and the untying, removal, and retying of shoes, all the while dealing with bags and laptop computers and keys and belts and the like. (It was worse when they were babies and the TSA used to make you take them out of their cushy car seats, thus waking them up, and carry them -- screaming -- through the metal detectors.) Add to that plane delays, the need to entertain children on-board, and coping with time and schedule changes, and well, that relaxing vacation started to sound a whole lot less restful.

It got so that, this summer, my husband and I drove two days straight each way to get to a family reunion and back, mostly because just thinking about the hassle of airport security makes me never want to pack a bag again. (Yes, I hate it that much -- plus my kids are good car travelers.)

But now the Transportation Security Administration is admitting what the rest of us knew all along: It's kind of ridiculous to ask little kids to take their shoes off before boarding a flight. And so it has announced that it is easing up on the shoe rule, along with a few other security procedures, when it comes to kids 12 and under.

Let's hear it for the TSA for letting a modicum of common sense to sneak back into air travel, and for easing at least some of the hassle of traveling with a family. Now if I could only find really cheap tickets to Paris ...

Has the hassle of airport security prompted you to travel less since you had kids? And will these newly relaxed rules encourage you to travel more?


Image via mandiberg/Flickr

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