Flying from IAH - any way to avoid body scanners and pat-downs? - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-09-2011, 09:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm going to have to fly out of IAH soon. I'm glad I get to go on this trip, but not thrilled to deal with TSA shenanigans. (Last time I did this trip, I took Amtrak, just to avoid body scanners and pat-downs.)

My FIL suggested that, especially at busy times, there may be lanes open for security that avoid the scanners and pat-downs entirely, using the faster, traditional metal detectors. Can anyone confirm this? I'm trying to pick a flight and wondering if I should go early in the morning when it will be pretty empty there, or mid-day when it will be busier. If busy means less chance of being forced to choose a pat-down over a body scanner, it would be worth it.

Anyone have ideas or tips?

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Old 08-09-2011, 10:14 PM
 
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I flew out of IAH last week with DH and the kids, and they were doing "random" selections for the body scanner.  They pull you aside and let you know that you've been selected when you step up to walk through the old school detector.  DH flies all the time for work, and he hasn't noticed any particular rhyme, reason, or pattern for the random selections.  We've never been picked in Houston.  

I actually got picked in Halifax, Nova Scotia on our way back to the states (a few days ago) to go through the scanner.  It was ridiculous! I was trying to get myself, DD, and my 4mo DS (who I was having to hold because I had to take him out of the mei tai) through the security line as DH dealt with all of our crap, and they picked me.  The TSA agent said I could choose the pat down instead but it would take 20-30 minutes to get through, and after waiting FOREVER to get through customs we were already cutting it close to make our flight.  The thought of missing our flight with the kids at the end of a long trip was too much, so I sucked it up and went through the scanner :(  

Good luck! After this latest flying trip from hell, DH and I have vowed to exhaust all other transportation alternatives before flying as a family again!


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Old 08-09-2011, 10:21 PM
 
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I just noticed in your siggy that you have a little one...just FYI in case she is going with you: the airports (especially IAH) have recently really cracked down on the babywearing through the security detectors.  I used to always walk through with DD in either the moby or the mei tai (both all fabric) with no problems whatsoever, but since about January of this year, I haven't been able to get away with it.  They have made me take the kiddo out AND remove the carrier completely (it had to be put through the Xray machine with shoes, etc...) Argh. Sorry, I'm still really venting over our most recent trip!


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Old 08-10-2011, 07:42 AM
 
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They don't do scans and pat downs on everyone.  We flew the end of May and out of the 4 of us only dh got pulled out.  He got the "friendly pat down" as he declined the scanner.  It was annoying but not worth freaking out about.

 

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Old 08-10-2011, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Alli, that sounds awful! greensad.gif I have seen some say having kids will make you less likely to be selected, but clearly that's not always the case. At least I'm prepared for the babywearing issue, as the last times I've flown I had the same experience. Actually, they had me take my baby off my back in an Ergo about 6 years ago. :/ I'll definitely be selecting a carrier that's easy-on and easy-off, at least until we get through security.

Angela, were you flying from terminal C? I'm not freaking out, but I'd like to avoid as much trouble as possible, especially when traveling alone with an infant.

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Old 08-12-2011, 08:47 AM
 
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We flew out of terminal B (Continental Express), and I think everyone went through the scanners- adults and kids. 


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Old 08-14-2011, 10:59 AM
 
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We are flying through IAH this week, too, but terminal A. We flew through there a couple of months ago, and there were two separate lines. We just took the kiddos and went for the line with the normal metal detector. I've noticed they are more strict on babywearing, too. (And they refused to believe that DD's carseat wouldn't  fit through the xray machine, despite the fact that I've carried it through that exact terminal at least a half dozen times. It got stuck in the machine when the TSA agent tried to jam it through, holding up everyone.)

 

I'm flying alone with the two kids this week, and I'm pregnant. If I get forced into the scanner or a 20 minute wait for a pat down, I'll probably lose my mind.

 

Oh, and I always fly early morning through IAH, and it seems like getting through security is as painless as it can be around 5 or 6 am. There's usually not a huge line, and I've never seen them make a big deal of the body scanner for anyone. (Again, we always fly through terminal A though, so it may be different at other checkpoints.)


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Old 08-17-2011, 04:04 PM
 
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I flew through IAH recently from Continental/United terminal and they are using a millimeter wave machine instead of the backscatter x-ray technology. 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millimeter_wave_scanner

 

The millimeter wave is far less controversial in terms of health effects.  Of course, you should verify that it is millimeter wave when you are there.  The machines look similar to me.

 

I was with my grandmother who uses a cane and was in a wheelchair for the airport and we got really nice treatment from the TSA folks. 

 

Oh-- also, just flew through Denver and they have a "family-friendly" line where kids don't have to take off their shoes and you go through a metal detector.  Pretty cool!

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Old 08-17-2011, 07:45 PM
 
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I've flown out of the Continental terminal at IAH twice in the last few months, once alone and once with my 4 year old DS. Everyone was going through the millimeter wave scanner Shrewism mentioned above. When I was alone, I went through the machine, but when my son was with me, the TSA agent pulled us out of line and had both of us go through the regular x-ray scanner machine. 

 

The time I was with my son, the line was extremely long but they were still having everyone go through the scanner (except young kids, I guess). It took us almost 30 minutes to get through security! So I'm not sure if flying at a busy time would actually make a difference. 

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Old 10-24-2011, 01:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just as an update on our trip... On arriving at IAH terminal C before dawn, I checked in/checked bags, and then tried to get a feel for what machines were in use on the two sides of security checkpoints. I ended up walking over to the far right side, where it first looked as though everyone was going through body scanners. Then, I noticed a line to the VERY far right side where there were very few people and NO body scanner. It turned out it was a handicap/stroller lane, though quite a few business people hopped the barriers to get into it. Someone (TSA? uniformed) standing with a passenger in a wheelchair reprimanded folks for jumping into the lane, so I asked her how/where I was supposed to be in. She said I was fine because it was for strollers (which I had, with a sleeping baby). YAY! The first guy checked everyone, regardless of their status, and was perfectly pleasant with us. We got through with no troubles, even though I had a FULL water bottle for cloth wipes with me... They actually rescanned stuff but let me through WITH my water. lol.gif

I had heard that O'Hare was virtually impossible to come through without body scanners, but also was able to simply pick a line with only metal detectors. It was amazing to have such an easy time (despite it being highly stressful, not knowing!) getting through security. I do think having the little one with me made things easier. She certainly made everyone happier. love.gif

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Old 10-27-2011, 11:14 AM
 
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Thanks for the update HeatherB! Glad to hear it went smoothly for you.  I will be flying solo with both the kiddos from IAH to Minneapolis in a few weeks, and I'm hoping to have a less-painful experience this time around compared to last.  


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Old 10-27-2011, 02:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I hope it goes well! I definitely recommend allowing lots of extra time so that you can assess the security before choosing which lane to go in. You may even ask where the stroller lane is (taking one simply for hauling stuff might be worthwhile, even if your kids don't need to ride!). I imagine you'll be safe at the far right at IAH, on a regular basis. Let us know how it goes!

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