Travelling with a Toddler

Imagine waking up at 4am and travelling to an airport to catch an early morning plane. Imagine queueing patiently with all the other sleepy passengers to pass through security. Imagine juggling a couple of bags, removing the laptop then being asked to remove your shoes. Imagine being told that the transparent bag that you have your liquids & toiletries in was too big. Imagine being told to go to the far side of the security area and purchase a “regulation size” transparent bag. Imagine passing through the security scanner only to be pulled to one side for another “random” body search. Imagine then having a bag singled out for a full search and waiting while they analyse some things then waiting even longer while the bag goes back through the machine.

Now imagine doing that with a 2-year old still in his pyjamas and not fully awake.

Welcome to Liverpool airport.

Imagine.

Yes. The security person could clearly see I was travelling alone with Dani yet he insisted that I go over to a machine to purchase a smaller transparent bag! The one I had was apparently too big. I didn’t even know there was a regulation size for those things. Did you?

Imagine.

What an appropriate word. This was Liverpool John Lennon airport. Their motto is “Above us only skies”; taken from the Lennon song of course. They should have added “…below us only pain.”

I gestured towards Dani, who was well behaved bless him, and said “Are you joking?”

“No” he said. “This bag you have is too big. You can buy one the right size from the machine over there.”

My anger started to show. “You must be joking” I said again pointing to Dani.

At that point the security guard’s lower than average IQ kicked in. He shouted across to the man who was herding the cattle to the various numbered security points. The cattle herder had a regulation sized bag in his pocket and to his credit said I could have it. Good bloke. A flicker of light in an intellectual dark zone.

Off we went through the scanner. The “random” beeper went off and I was frisked. Then one of our bags was picked out for a search. This time it was Dani’s cup which was full of water. My fault. Totally. I had filled it in case he wanted a drink in the car while travelling to the airport. I intended to empty it when we arrived knowing what would happen. An easy thing to forget about when wrestling with bags and a barely awake active toddler.

Other Airports…

We have two equally viable options when travelling to & from the UK. Liverpool or Manchester airport.

Take it from me; Manchester airport security is a lot worse than Liverpool. Their inefficiency greatly increases the waiting time. My advice to those travelling with toddlers is simply to reduce the liquids count to zero. Play it safe or face an inquisition from the security staff. Let’s just say they are not so much born to this role but probably incapable of doing any other job.

The joys of travelling? You must be joking. Sometimes it is just hard work. A necessary evil so that Dani can visit his family.

Interestingly airlines are now full of helpful advice for lone adults travelling with young children. They seem to be making an effort to make things easier where they can. The problem is that airport security is really a standalone thing. A law unto itself so to speak. The airlines can do nothing about that.

Unfortunately, it is what it is. The situation is not going to get any better any time soon. It will probably get worse. I am sure you all have similar experiences at other UK airports. And it really is a UK problem. It is so much easier at Madrid airport. They even have a play-pen area to leave the kids if they think your bags need a further search. I could name several airports around the world where it is so much more efficient.

For the Record…

Overall I think Liverpool airport is a much better experience than Manchester on a number of levels. But as is usually the case there is room for improvement.

Also, there really is an official size for those plastic bags. Well, sort of. This from the official government website

https://www.gov.uk/hand-luggage-restrictions/overview

…containers must be in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag, which holds no more than a litre and measures approximately 20cm x 20cm

(That’s 8 inches by 8 inches in old money.)

The word “approximately” is a little worrying. They haven’t started measuring them yet but I am sure they will get around to it.

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