Just in time for the holiday travel rush, the Transportation Security Administration has announced they will be introducing special lanes to help process families through airport security checkpoints. Starting on November 20, over 500 mid-sized to major airports will be implementing these family-friendly lanes in the hopes that this will ease some of the unique stresses of air travel with children.
This is not special treatment for breeders, as some of the backlash comments from various sites covering this story imply, but a mutually beneficial attempt to stream kid-challenged passengers away from otherwise unencumbered passengers so that everyone can proceed through this necessary hurdle as efficiently as possible. Family travelers get a helpful assistant and a little extra time to navigate the potentially arduous process while business/savvy travelers can move through another line more swiftly. Both sides win.
In fact, many airports will have three designated lanes available – one for expert travelers who know the ropes, one for casual travelers who require a little assistance with the procedures, and one for family travelers who need more time, help and understanding to get through the steps involved.
Personally, I’m a prime candidate for the fast-tracked expert lane at the airport. As a seasoned traveler, I know how to flow through a security checkpoint with minimal fuss. I pack light, follow the 3-1-1 rules, wear easy-on-and-off shoes and refrain from donning belts or jewelry that can set off metal detectors. I simply steel myself to the inevitable line-ups and patiently wait my turn like a pro.
However, when I’m flying with my children, there’s no amount of experience or expertise that can make this procedure a breeze. It has gotten a little easier now my girls are a more capable four and five years old, but, try as I may to block it out, I clearly remember the absurd acrobatics involved with having to collapse a tandem double stroller with one hand, grasp my two-year-old toddler’s hand with the other, simultaneously extract my sleeping infant from the Baby Bjorn while turning on my laptop for inspection, somehow removing and keeping tabs on all shoes, all the while lugging two car seats, a bulging diaper bag and a small personal carry-on bag through the checkpoint while my eldest wailed as her beloved blanky disappeared down the x-ray tunnel. Trust me, Mr. Impatient Businessman snarling in the line behind me, this was more painful for me than it was for you.
Hopefully these family lanes will help alleviate some of that palpable tension that builds at busy airports, especially during peak travel season when the full spectrum of novice to veteran flyers are rubbing elbows and suitcases together. Detractors think these special lanes will mean less resources and longer waits for “regular” travelers, but the TSA ensures that staff will monitor the situation so that non-family passengers can flow into those lanes if they are underutilized at a given time. Otherwise, segregating travelers with small children from the mosh pit of human cattle snaking through the security lines is a humane, common sense move that will make for a smoother airport experience for all.