As we started the year, many of us likely had a few summer travel plans in place disrupted by the global pandemic. Maybe you were looking to get out of the country, visit a vacation house by the beach, or try something new with your family? As the months have gone on, the desire to get out and explore has started to creep in. Many people are reconsidering what’s possible in terms of safely traveling and vacationing. Even several of The Everymom editors have been talking about wanting to get away either with a road trip or a quick flight for a bit of relaxation and change of scenery.
Before the pandemic, flying with kids could be stressful and overwhelming, but the extra safety precautions now give travelers yet another thing to think about. We’ve gathered answers to some general FAQs to hopefully make your vacation planning and traveling a lot smoother.
Q: Is going through security any different now?
Most of the security routines you did before COVID-19 hit will likely be the same. You will still need to make sure all of your toiletries are the right size and that you please your usual personal items in the bins to be scanned. Additionally, because food items often trigger an alert at security, the TSA recommends passengers place their carry-on food items into a clear plastic bag and place the bag in the bin as well.
Masks are required of all passengers (and TSA employees) who go through TSA security. According to TSA, in rare cases, you may be asked to remove your mask momentarily so that TSA can properly screen and identify you if necessary. The officers will be social distancing and will no longer handle boarding passes.
Heads up: Forgot your mask? No worries, TSA will provide you one before going through security.
Q: Can I bring my breastmilk or formula through security?
A: Yes, but in limited quantities
Bringing breastmilk or formula through security won’t be an issue, you’ll just need to alert TSA before your security screening if you have more than 3.4 ounces or 1000 milliliters in your carry-on. While these items will need to be screened separately from your carry-on luggage, it is not required that it fits in the quart-sized bag like most items.
Heads up: In case you were wondering, your child does not have to be present to travel with breastmilk or formula.
Q: Do you need to check their stroller and car seat?
Both will need to be checked unless you purchase a separate seat for your baby to stay in their car seat for the flight. If you’d like to use your stroller to get through the airport, you can likely check your stroller at the gate before you board. If you’re concerned about the weight or bulkiness of your car seat, you can also consider getting a less expensive lightweight option to specifically use for travel.
Pro tip: While packing and checking a car seat may seem like a pain, utilize the car seat bag to pack extra items such as toys, clothes, or accessories that won’t fit in your suitcase or carry on luggage.
Q: Should I put my baby on my lap or buy them their own seat?
A: Under age 2, it’s your choice
Children under the age of 2 fly for free if they fly sitting on your lap. The FAA does recommend using an approved child safety restraint system while traveling, but it’s ultimately each family’s decision based on their budget and comfort level.
Heads up: many airlines aren’t booking the middle seats on flights to comply with social distancing measures, so even if you don’t book that additional seat, you might get lucky with a little extra wiggle room after all.
Q: What COVID-19 precautions are required on the plane?
A: Depends on the airline
Each airline will have its own guidelines for mask-wearing at the gate and on the plane, so know their rules before you fly. Drinks and snack options will also vary by airline, so research ahead of time so you can be prepared.
Airlines are sanitizing their cabins in between each use, and many are providing sanitation wipes so that you can wipe down your seats, trays, and anything else you’ll touch as an extra safety measure.
These guidelines could change as new information is learned. It is more important than ever to make sure you and your family are feeling healthy before arriving at the airport to keep the airport staff and everyone else around you safe. Of course, extra hand-washing and having extra travel-sized hand sanitizer is also a good idea.