Traveling with Children
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.
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.
AIT screening is optional for all passengers. Eligible passengers who opt out of AIT screening will receive alternative screening, to include a thorough pat-down.
Traveling With Formula, Breast Milk, and Juice
Formula, breast milk and juice for infants or toddlers are permitted to be brought on board the aircraft. As with other medically necessary liquids, travelers must tell the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process that they wish to bring formula, breast milk and juice in excess of 3.4 ounces in their carry-on bag. These liquids are typically screened by X-ray, and formula, breast milk and juice in excess of 3.4 ounces will receive additional screening.
Exemptions from the 3-1-1 Rule
Liquids in carry-on baggage are ordinarily limited by the 3-1-1 rule, which allows travelers to bring one quart-sized, clear zip-top bag containing liquids no larger than 3.4 ounces. However, travelers flying with or without a child may bring medically necessary liquids, such as formula, breast milk and juice, in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces in their carry-on baggage. The formula, breast milk and juice need not fit within a quart-sized bag. Travelers are encouraged to travel with only as much formula, breast milk and juice needed to reach their destination. Ice packs and other accessories required to cool formula, breast milk and juice are also permitted through the screening checkpoint and are not bound by the 3-1-1 requirements. Travelers are also allowed to bring gel or liquid-filled teethers, canned, jarred and processed baby food in carry-on baggage and aboard the plane. These items may be subject to additional screening.
Declaring Formula, Breast Milk, and Juice
Formula, breast milk and juice in excess of 3.4 ounces or accessories required to transport the liquid on a flight must be declared to the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process. If a traveler does not want formula, breast milk and juice to be X-rayed or opened, the traveler must inform the officer before screening begins.
Screening Formula, Breast Milk, and Juice
Formula, breast milk and juice for infants or toddlers are screened in the same manner as medically necessary liquids. Officers may test liquids for explosives or concealed prohibited items. If officers are unable to use X-ray to clear these items, they may ask for the container to be opened and may also ask the traveler to transfer to a separate container or dispose of a small quantity of liquid, if feasible. TSA suggests traveling with an empty container and avoid filling the container to the top. If the formula, breast milk and juice cannot be X-rayed or opened, officers may be required to take additional steps to clear the liquid as well as conduct additional screening, which may include a pat-down of the traveler and screening of the remainder of the traveler’s accessible property.
The Food and Drug Administration states that there are no known adverse effects from eating food, drinking beverages and using medicine that has been screened by X-ray. For more information about X-ray screening, read the safety reports for X-ray screening.
When traveling with an infant or toddler, please keep these important tips in mind:
- Separate formula, breast milk and juice from 3-1-1 liquids, gels and aerosols.
- Declare any non-3-1-1 items to transportation security officers as you prepare your property for X-ray screening.
- Present these items for additional inspection once reaching the X-ray.
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.
- 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. We welcome your 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 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 conduct a pat-down search of your child while he/she remains in their mobility aid, as well as a visual and physical inspection of their equipment. You will remain with your child at all times, and you can ask to have your child screened in private.
- 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.