Surviving Sequestration When Traveling With Kids

Several parents to kids with autism have approached me this week asking for tips to help them navigate the sequestration chaos. As the NY times article points out; delays can vary anywhere from 10-50 minutes depending on the airport.
What is clear is that these delays will persist (unless the crisis is solved)  as summer travel peaks in the months ahead, so parents should heed warnings and plan accordingly.

10 Tips to Surviving Sequestration when traveling with kids PLANE

Learn the airport layout

Print or bookmark (on a mobile phone or tablet), a map of the airports you will be traveling through to help you locate play areas, food venues and even bathrooms quickly.

Know the flight availability

Download (in advance) at least two travel sites like Kayakchipmunk or Tripit on your mobile devices to help you search possible flight availability on alternate routes, airlines and nearby airports if your flight is delayed or canceled. 

Keep informed

In today’s digital information world, you can be notified via e-mail or instant messaging of flight delays and  TSA lines. Make sure the airline you are flying with has all your current information and can contact you in if any changes were to occur. Also, it is always a smart idea to check your airline and FAA websites for updates.

Add contacts to your mobile devices

Don’t forget to add the airline’s customer service number to the speed-dial list on your phone. This way, you cannot only call from the airport gate but redial fast if you get disconnected.
You might also want to keep the airlines FB and Twitter page links handy since social media has become an acceptable alternate way to communicate with many companies.

Pay close attention to the TSA regulations

Many travelers don’t read the TSA rules ahead of time and fail to pack accordingly.
If you want to pass the checkpoints smoothly and quickly, you need to adhere to the liquid and sharp objects’ recommendations.
Furthermore, be aware that dressing in layers or baggy clothing will automatically trigger a pat-down and further delay you.

Spring for Netflix membership for a month

Consider a subscription to a video service like Netflix or Hulu to entertain your kid while you are traveling. Most companies offer a free trial month, so you can always cancel the service once you return home.

Splurge on the lounge

Airport lounges can be a nice alternative to relax in when flights are delayed.
You can gain access to the lounges if you are a frequent flyer with high status, the holder of certain credit cards or by just purchasing a day pass. Most domestic lounges provide snacks, drinks, and free unlimited Wi-Fi.
A few lounges like United’s Red Carpet at LAX and Newark even come with a separate family room complete with a DVD player and movies to watch.!

Check airport hotel nearby

Make sure you check ahead of time which airport hotels are available and whether they offer a ‘day rate’  ahead of time.This can become a possible option in the event your flight is grossly delayed, and your child with autism needs somewhere to relax for a few hours.

Ask for help

Unless you are confident, your child can face long lines or delays without a meltdown you need to share your child’s diagnosis with airline representatives earlier rather than later.
By doing so, you will ensure their cooperation, get the help you need and avoid misunderstandings that might arise.
Remember to carry a doctor’s note detailing your child’s disability and any accommodations he/she might need.

Stay calm

Whatever the circumstances, don’t forget to maintain your composure and remain calm for two principal reasons.
The first: watching you agitated would only stress your kid further and lead to a potential meltdown.
The second: in our post- 9/11 reality, any rude or threatening word exchange is both counterproductive and could result in airport security officers escorting you off the premises and placing you on the no-fly list.



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