TSA is required to screen everyone, regardless of age, in order to ensure the security of all travelers. Many Transportation Security Officers are parents themselves and understand travelers’ concern for their children. Security officers will approach children gently and treat them with respect. If a child becomes uncomfortable or upset, security officers will consult parents about the best way to relieve the child's concern.
Screening procedures for passengers 12 and under include:
- Allowing children 12 and under to leave their shoes on.
- Allowing multiple passes through the walk through metal detector and advanced imaging technology to clear any alarms on children.
- Using explosives trace detection technology on a wider basis to resolve alarms on children.
The Screening Process
General Screening Information
- Children 12 and under can leave their shoes on during screening.
- TSA will not ask travelers to do anything that will separate them from their child.
- Passengers cannot leave babies in an infant carrier and attempt to put it through the X-ray machine. Babies should be carried through a walk through metal detector by a parent or guardian.
- All carry-on baggage, including children's toys, bags and items, will be screened. Please let your child know that their blanket, favorite stuffed animal or toy will have to go through the X-ray machine and then will be returned to them.
- All child-related equipment that can fit through the X-ray machine should go through the X-ray machine. Examples include: strollers, umbrella-strollers, baby carriers, car and booster seats, backpacks, and baby slings.
- If possible, please collapse or fold strollers and any other child-related equipment while in the queue. Please put any items in the stroller pockets or baskets, in a carry-on bag or in the bin X-ray belt for inspection. Plastic bins are provided to deposit such items.
- If any equipment will not fit through the X-ray machine, security officers will visually and physically inspect it.
- Ask a security officer for help gathering bags and equipment, if needed.
The Walk-Through Metal Detector
Children who can walk without assistance should walk through the metal detector separately from their parent or guardian. If they alarm, TSA has procedures in place that have reduced, but will not eliminate, the need for pat downs to resolve the alarm, including multiple passes through screening technologies and other procedures.
Infants and small children may be carried through the metal detector, but if the alarm sounds, the officer will have to conduct additional screening on both the passenger and the child. If a baby is carried through the metal detector in a sling, additional screening may be required even if there isn’t an alarm.
Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT)
TSA uses advanced imaging technology (AIT) to safely screen passengers for metallic and non-metallic threats. Any passenger capable of assuming and staying in the required position for 5 seconds is eligible for AIT screening. If a child 12 and under goes through AIT and alarms, they will have an opportunity to go through the technology again or the Security Officer may use other procedures to resolve the alarm to reduce the need for a pat down.
Parents carrying infants or children cannot be screened by the imaging technology. In addition, parents accompanying children may opt out of being screened by imaging technology to prevent them from being separated from their family.
Traveling With Baby Formula, Breast Milk, And Other Liquids For Infants And Small Children
In September 2006, TSA enacted rules for carrying liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on bags. All liquids, gels and aerosols must be in 3.4 ounce (100ml) or smaller containers, and packed in a one quart, zip-top bag. Each passenger can take one zip-top bag in their carry-on. Larger quantities of liquids may be packed in checked bags.
Medically necessary liquids and gels, including medications, baby formula and food, breast milk, and juice are exempt from the 3-1-1 rules, and are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding 3.4 ounces (100ml). They are not required to be in a zip-top bag. Officers may ask travelers to open these items to conduct additional screening and passengers should declare them for inspection at the checkpoint.
Please be advised that passengers going on long trips should only carry on the medically necessary liquids and gels needed for their infant/toddler’s immediate comfort during the flight. Please pack larger amounts of liquids for the remainder of the trip in a checked bag.
Lastly, avoid any additional hassles by making sure nothing you plan to pack is on TSA’s list of prohibited items.
Children With Medical Conditions, Mobility Aids Or Disabilities
Whether your child has a disability or medical condition or because of injury or disability will be traveling through the checkpoint in a wheelchair, please read the following information and share it with children traveling with you so you are prepared and understand the process. The more you and your child are informed about the screening process, the less stressful it can be.
- 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.