Kids running off while you’re distracted by check in or airport security is every parent’s worst nightmare. We’ve put together some practical tips to help you keep your kids safe.
Running on caffeine and adrenalin, you drag a mountain of luggage and your cranky, half-asleep kids through a sea of people at the airport. You rush through security and finally reach your gate in the nick of time, then it hits you like a tonne of bricks, that nauseating, stomach-dropping feeling that something isn’t right. In the split-second you looked away to reach for your passport, your youngest has wandered off. You scan around frantically, but you can’t see him anywhere. Its every parent’s worst nightmare and an often occurrence during airport transits, so we’ve put together some practical tips to help you keep your kids safe.
1. Talk it through Give your children as much information about your travel plans as possible. This includes telling them about the airport process, from checking in and clearing security to boarding the plane. Tell them the gate number and the airline you’re flying and give them a copy of the itinerary, so they have it on hand and can show someone if needed. Writing down your name and number on a piece of paper and tucking it into their pocket can be really helpful if they get lost.
2. Check in online If available, check in online. Not only is it great for selecting your seats, it also means having one less queue to deal with, even if you do have to visit the bag drop.
3. Point out helpful people Show your kids who the safe strangers at the airport are that will be able to help them if they get lost. These can be security officers, airline desk staff, store salespeople and mums with kids.
4. Take photos When you’re under stress, it can be difficult to remember even the simplest information, such as what your child was wearing. Taking a photo and having it on your phone can be really helpful in a stressful situation, especially if you need to ask others if they have seen your child.
Taking a snap of boarding passes and passports is also a good idea, so you always have a back-up if needed. Send a copy to your child’s phone as well, if they have one.
5. Get in the fast lane Airports often have fast, or priority lanes, reserved for families and those travelling business class. They are usually a lot less congested than the other lanes, so if you see one, ask if you can use it. You can also request a priority pass at the check-in counter. More often than not, airport staff will be happy for you to use the fast lane as it speeds up the process for other travellers too.
6. Consolidate Pack loose items such as toys, bottles, jackets and hats until you are relaxing at your gate. Having less things to carry and drag around, means less distraction, less slowing down, less worrying and less risk of losing items.
7. Get attached A great idea for younger kids is to attach them to yourself with a carabiner bungy cords. These are cheap and easy to find in shops like Bunnings and Rebel Sports and can be used by attaching one end to yourself or your trolley, and the other to your child’s belt loops. They can walk freely without wandering off from you.
8. Repeat and review Remind your kids of your safety routine once more. Tell them to stand still and call out for you as opposed to going looking for you. Remind them who to look out for and ask for help and remind them that they have your contact information in their pocket. Reassure them that they will be OK and not to panic, and that they can refuse to go with strangers if they feel uncomfortable. Ask your kids to repeat back to you and answer any questions they may have.