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TSA guidelines for airline passengers traveling with a particular disability or medical condition

This set of guidelines is produced by the Transportation Security Administration and the Disability Branch, Office of Civil Rights & Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement and provides information for people with a disability or medical condition traveling through US airports

The guidelines are part of the What to Expect series and is part of their Awareness program.

TSA Cares

  • TSA Cares is a toll-free helpline, 1-855-787-2227 or Federal Relay #711, available for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions to get the latest information on screening. You may call from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekends and holidays.
  • If travelers with disabilities or medical conditions would like assistance at the checkpoint, TSA recommends that travelers call no less than 72 hours ahead of travel so that TSA Cares has the opportunity to coordinate checkpoint support. Checkpoint support may include coordination with a Passenger Support Specialist (PSS). Each airport has different resources; therefore, the level of assistance you receive at the checkpoint can vary. Some airports have an individual who will call you to gather additional information and arrange a meeting time and place. Other locations notify the checkpoint manager of your itinerary, but no pre-contact is made. If you arrive at the checkpoint and have any concerns before, during, or after the screening process, you should immediately request to speak with a Supervisory Transportation Security Officer (STSO) or a Passenger Support Specialist for assistance.

Passenger Support Specialists:

  • Travelers may request the assistance of a passenger support specialist through TSA Cares, or at the airport.
  • The specialist is a specially trained staff member who provides travelers with disabilities and medical conditions on-the-spot assistance at security checkpoints.

Planning Your Trip:

  • Arrive early to allow time to screen medically-necessary liquids and medical devices.
  • Communicate your specific needs to the TSA officer before screening begins to facilitate your airport screening experience. This can include information about medically-necessary liquids equipment and devices as well as the location of sensitive areas. You may provide this information to the TSA officer verbally, or present a TSA notification card to the TSA officer.
  • The 3-1-1 liquids rule for carry-ons allows each traveler to have liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes in quantities of 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container; in 1 quart sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; and 1 bag. The 3.4 ounces’ size restriction does not apply to medically-necessary liquids for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. However, you will need to declare medically-necessary liquids for inspection at the checkpoint, and officers may need to conduct additional screening of these items.
  • Tools longer than 7 inches (measured from end to end when assembled) are prohibited in carry-on baggage; these items must be packed in your checked baggage.

Advanced Imaging Technology:

  • Travelers are eligible to be screened using advanced imaging technology if they are able to stand and walk through the machine; stand and hold their hands above their head for five to seven seconds without support; and if there is an alarm, stand for additional time to resolve the alarm.
  • Travelers not wishing to be screened by advanced imaging technology, and travelers who are not eligible for such screening, can request a pat-down.
  • Learn more about advanced imaging technology at TSA.gov.

Walk-Through Metal Detectors:

  • Travelers may be screened by walk through metal detectors if they can walk through the machine on their own.
  • Travelers cannot request metal detector screening in lieu of advanced imaging technology or a pat-down.

Pat-Downs:

  • When conducted, the pat-down will be performed by a TSA officer of the same gender.
  • A traveler can request a private screening, and be accompanied by a companion of his or her choosing.
  • Additionally, the traveler can request a chair if he or she needs to sit down.
  • Travelers should not be asked to remove or lift any article of clothing to reveal a sensitive body area.

Explosive Trace Detection Screening:

  • TSA officers may swab personal property, or a traveler’s hands, and then use explosive trace detection technology to test for explosives.
  • The swab is placed inside the unit, which analyzes the content for the presence of potential explosive residue.
  • Travelers can request a new swab prior to their hands being sampled.
  • Learn more about explosive trace detection at TSA.gov.

75 Years Old and Over:

  • Travelers who appear 75 years old and over can leave their light outer jackets, garments and shoes on while going through security checkpoints, even in the standard screening lanes.
  • Learn more about procedures for travelers 75 years old and older at TSA.gov.

12 Years Old and Under:

  • Travelers who appear 12 years old or younger can leave their light outer jackets, garments and shoes on while going through security checkpoints, even in the standard screening lanes.
  • Learn more about traveling with children through the checkpoint at TSA.gov.

What to remember

  • Packing: Separate medically-necessary liquids and equipment from other belongings so they can be quickly identified and accessed for screening.
  • Known Traveler Number (KTN): Enter your known traveler number when you book your flight to get TSA Pre✓® (TSA PreCheck) benefits.
  • Companion: You can be accompanied by a companion of your choosing to provide assistance during the screening process. However, the companion must be re-screened after providing assistance that involves physical contact.
  • Body Piercing: Certain metal body piercings may cause the machines to alarm, which will result in additional screening. If additional screening is required, removing the body piercing may be necessary to assist with resolving the alarm.
  • Gift Wrapping: If a security officer needs to inspect a package, a gift may have to be unwrapped. Passengers should refrain from wrapping gifts until arriving at their final destination.

What to Expect: TSA Travel Guidelines

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