December 29, 2010

Traveling with My Child and the TSA-induced Frenzy at the Airport {and some useful tips}

Have you flown lately? Have the TSA's new security protocol dampened your spirit about flying especially during these holidays and intimidated you enough to NOT fly to protect your children? Well, you're not alone! These are my sentiments exactly. But my family braved it and flew anyway. Here is where it gets better.

To those who knew me, knows that weeks before my planned trip to California to visit my mom for the holidays, I have been unpleasantly filled with dread coupled with a little bit of anxiety. No, not at seeing my mom nor the air travel ~ I'm a seasoned international traveler and a 5 hour air travel don't bother me ~ instead, it was {and still is} my upcoming encounter with TSA at the airport! Can you blame me? With all the ugliness projected by media and the people who had nightmarish experiences with TSA's new security protocol, I, as a mom traveling with her 6 year old had more than enough reason to be concerned...
Prior to this trip, I even consulted a friend who works with TSA to clarify, if not confirm, these fearful allegations and what as a traveler like me needs to do to be prepared. Truthfully,  I was mostly concerned for my child's safety and privacy rights than mine. Here we are teaching our child not to trust strangers, more so, have someone they don't know touching them... and then we go fly and have them legally violated in front of our faces! How cruel is that, right?! Now in order to prepare my daughter, I gave her fair warnings, detailed instructions and what she might expect going through TSA. Putting her in a mindset as such helped greatly during the actual process.
 And so, the day of our flight came and we trotted to the airport like soldiers ready for battle. "The day of reckoning has come I thought." The airport was teeming with holiday travelers. "Great! This is going to be some heck of a trip..." I muttered as I scan the gate where we were going through. Gate C. It's the first time I've ever traveled with my family during one of the busiest time of the year. And with TSA looming just a stone throws away from me, I was nothing but beyond myself with uncertainty.

The lady inspector who checks ID's seem to be already under stress and flustered due to the high volume of traveler passing through her watch was neither friendly nor warm. She was walking back and forth arguing with a fellow TSA'er about how to manage the line. And not even a smile I dare say! O.M.G. it's Christmastime for crying out loud! No wonder TSA employees are branded as terrible beings due to the likes of her. Then there's the gate. As a seasoned traveler, I KNOW THE DRILL. We know the drill. Shoes came off. Coats came off. And oh, to avoid the hassle of removing belts and emptying pockets, I wore one of those loose lounge pants. No pockets. Nothing.  I thought it was a brilliant idea! NOT!!!

The gentleman manning the gate where we went through, I realized, already had his eyes on me at the very moment I stepped passed the lady inspectors post! He accosted me and insisted I remove my light sweater (seriously) then made me step into this small enclosed cubicle behind him, radioed a female TSA employee and had me patted down! WTH?! You don't seriously believe I can be hiding something dangerous under those pants do you? I kept my mouth shut just this once.

My only consolation { if you can call it that! }? It was not an enhanced pat-down and the lady was very courteous and instructed that she'll just do a quick pat-down on both my legs! Though it was a simple and quick procedure, what bothered me was the fact that I was singled out. Did I really look like I can be a terrorist hiding something under my lounging pants?! What made that guy think that? Note: I didn't even trigger the alarm to negate getting a pat-down. Is TSA's security protocol really this flawed due to those who implements them? Seriously!

My daughter { Thank Goodness! } and my husband went through the gate without any trouble. What irony! And the rest of our flight? It went just fine. But this is just Charlotte. It ain't over yet. We still have LAX {Los Angeles} to deal with on our flight home. Lord have Mercy!

Here are some helpful tips if you're flying out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport:
  • Head to Gate C : By far this is the only gate that do not have body scanners in place. There are three x-ray belts. Line flows here very quickly. 
  • Don't wear loose lounge pants: I don't need to explain again or do I?
  • Park on long-term Park 4: They only charge $10 dollars and good for 30 days! A real deal.
  • FREE WI-FI : Definitely a great treat for the online enthusiast like me. You can check-in to Whrrl before your flight and if you plan checking in on Foursquare {fail whale}, make sure to stand next to the window if you want "it" to find you.
  • Arrive 2 hours early: Gives you ample time to park and go through the gate security, especially if you're going through Gate C which most traveler favors.
Any TSA { horror and non-horror } experiences anywhere else? Let us hear it!


  1. Oh thank you for sharing your story! I have to travel in March and I am curious about what I will encounter.

  2. I doubt we'll be flying any where anytime soon but these are GREAT tips for CLT, I didn't know about the gate and I'll remember to wear my tightest pair of Pajama Jeans that I own ;)

  3. I went through Charlotte to fly to CA a while back, and it was very painless. But it wasn't holiday season either.

    I am glad you got through with relatively little problems, hope you have a great time!

  4. We are going away soon so this post couldn't have come at a better time.

  5. Hey Maricris, welcome to the wonderful world of racial profiling. You don't have to do anything but just look different than the person looking at you. Sorry.


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