salon air canada alexandra

Passing through the airport with children: passports, priority lines and lounge access

To the point Our tips for airport travel with children: know your rights, the formalities and relax!

This post is also available in: FR

Jean-Maximilien and I have two children. And as you can imagine… we travel a lot. Whether visiting family in France or traveling the world, our most valuable travel accessory is of course our passport, followed by our Priority Pass membership card!

The child passport

As we are not yet Canadian citizens (we will be in 2018), we have French passports, along with our permanent resident cards.

On the other hand, our two children being born in Canada, they already have the double nationality: Canadian by the ground and French by the blood! If on paper it is ideal, in reality it can lead to administrative misunderstandings and sometimes just at the airport with the children before taking your flight!

milesopedia passport

The signature on your child’s passport

Two countries, two ways of doing things:

  • For the Canadian passport, you absolutely must not sign it even if the customs officer of another country asks you to (this happened to us in France). Print this letter of explanation and keep it in your child’s passport. If your child is under 11 years of age and has not signed his/her own passport, it will be invalid.
  • For the French passport, you must sign it by indicating “Le Père” or “La Mère” next to your signature.

Entry formalities in case of dual nationality

Here is the process at the airport with dual nationality children:

  • When arriving in France, we can show our children’s French or Canadian passport (although it is preferable to show the French passport if the parents only have French nationality)
  • When returning to Canada, you must show your Canadian passport! They are indeed not permanent residents like us… so the French passport is useless here for them.

Hence the need to have both passports for children, especially if you are traveling to countries other than Canada and France. For example, for our stay in Vietnam, the process is much easier to obtain a visa with a French passport than a Canadian one!

The parental consent letter

Your spouse stays in the country and you travel alone with your child? You will need a letter of parental consent from your spouse.

It is not mandatory, but highly recommended.

A sample template can be found on this Government of Canada page.

You can either have it certified by an official authorized to administer oaths… or have the letter signed in the presence of a witness.

On her first father-daughter trip, my consent was requested at the airport check-in. Fortunately, I was there to confirm that I was okay with letting them travel!

airport 338156 960 720

At the airport with children

Recording with children

Are you afraid to wait tens of minutes with small children to check in your luggage? So are we.

Unfortunately, only a few airlines have understood this: for example, Air Transat offers a priority check-in line for families.

So check in online so you only have to drop off your luggage, or use the automated kiosks.

For other companies, you can always ask the staff members usually present at the entrance of the waiting line. If they are understanding, you may be able to transfer to the business class line if it is empty.

Some credit cards allow you to obtain priority check-in if you travel on an Aeroplan Reward(TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite) or Air Canada(AeroplanPlus Platinum Card from American Express & TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Preferred).

Priority line at security checks

In almost all the airports from which we took off, there were priority lines at the security checks reserved for families.

This is the case at Montréal-Trudeau… and it makes all the difference, believe me!

Safety check with children

You will have to respect several rules:

  • Put all liquids in the same bag, different from the one containing your personal belongings.

If your children’s bottle or food gets into your backpack/handbag, the entire bag will have to be searched.

By separating the liquids, only these will be analyzed: you will save a lot of time!

  • Fold the stroller so that it can be X-rayed (don’t put all your stuff in the basket!)
  • Remove your baby from the carrier: even if it does not contain metal, it is required to pass the metal detector. If you are traveling alone, the agent will be able to hold your baby while you pass.

Access to the lounges with children

Airport lounges can help you avoid the hustle and bustle of the airport terminal. However, you should know that the environment of these lounges is rather calm: if your children start to run, scream, cry… it will be rather advised to leave the lounge even if you have to come back later.

To access them, if you are not traveling in business class, it will be useful to have the appropriate credit card: see this article for more information on the different options.

Our favorite cards:

Also consider checking the websites of the airports you will be passing through. In Zurich, for example, there is a fair dedicated to families. Here, your entry pass is your child! 🙂

Bottom line

Having a child/children should not prevent you from traveling, quite the contrary! If you are well prepared, your passages to the airports with the children will be facilitated, all these steps are only formalities! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them on the facebook group!

This post is also available in: FR

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!
Jean-Maximilien is an expert in Canada and France about Loyalty programs, Credit cards and Travel. He is the Founding President of Milesopedia.

Suggested Reading