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What to Expect from the TSA
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What to Expect from the TSA 

 

   

 

  

 

Concerned about pat downs? Read on to ease your mind.

 

TSA Disability Branch

 

The mission of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is to protect our nation’s transportation systems so that all of us can travel safely. Security officers at airports across the country work to protect and screen nearly two million travelers each day. TSA’s security officers, inspectors, air marshals, managers, and directors are a reflection of this nation’s great diversity.

 

All TSA personnel who work at airport checkpoints receive training on screening travelers with disabilities and medical conditions, which emphasizes treating travelers with dignity, respect, and sensitivity. All travelers are required to undergo screening, but TSA’s screening procedures have been developed to ensure that travelers with disabilities and their associated devices can be screened. How this screening is conducted depends on the traveler’s disability or medical condition, the technology in use at the checkpoint, and the needs that are communicated to TSA personnel by the passenger.

 

TSA has programs for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions to help them with the screening process.

 

TSA Cares

 

TSA Cares is a helpline for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. TSA Cares agents have received special training to provide callers with specific information about the screening of travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. In addition, you may provide a TSA Cares agent with a flight itinerary before upcoming travel and the agent will notify TSA officials at the airports to allow them to prepare for your screening and assist you through the screening checkpoint.

 

Travelers or their companions may call TSA Cares toll free at 855-787-2227 (Federal Relay 711) or e-mail TSA-ContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov. The hours of operation for the helpline are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET on weekends and holidays. We strongly recommend travelers call seventy-two hours before travel.

 

The Passenger Support Specialist Program

 

TSA created the Passenger Support Specialist (PSS) program specifically to assist passengers with disabilities and medical conditions. Passenger Support Specialists receive specialized disability training, including how to engage and communicate with individuals with disabilities. The goal is to have a PSS in the vicinity of every checkpoint to provide proactive assistance and resolve traveler-related screening concerns.


A traveler who needs assistance, or is concerned about his or her screening, can ask a checkpoint officer or supervisor for a PSS. If a traveler has concerns about his or her screening, he or she should ask to speak with a supervisor or a PSS while at the checkpoint. Travelers also can report concerns to TSA’s Disability Branch at TSA.ODPO@tsa.dhs.gov.

 

TSA Pre✓® is a screening program that allows pre-screened travelers to experience expedited, more efficient security screening at participating U.S. airport checkpoints and when traveling on participating airlines. Those approved for TSA Pre✓® eligibility may benefit from a faster and easier travel experience by not having to remove shoes, 3-1-1 liquids, laptops and large electronic devices, light outerwear/jackets, belts and CPAP/BPAP.

 

Travelers who are interested in TSA Pre✓® may visit and apply at an enrollment center to provide biographic information that includes his or her name, date of birth, and address. Every applicant will undergo an in-depth background check and must provide valid identity and citizenship/immigration documentation. Applicants will also be fingerprinted at the enrollment center. TSA has procedures to accommodate individuals with disabilities who may be unable to provide ten-finger fingerprints.


An applicant also has the option to pre-enroll online to provide basic information and make an appointment before visiting an enrollment center. The cost is $85 for an application processing fee and is non-refundable. The application is valid for five years. For more information and to learn about center locations in your area, visit www.tsa.gov and click on the TSA Pre✓® link. 

 

“What to Expect”: Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions

 

Each month, TSA’s Disability Branch distributes a “What to Expect” publication developed specifically for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. The publication explains the differences between TSA Pre✓® and standard screening processes and includes tips on “what to know” and “what to remember” in preparation for travel. Each piece focuses on a different disability or medical condition.

 

TSA Notification Cards

 

TSA has created notification cards that travelers may use to inform TSA officers about any disability, medical condition, or medical device that could affect security screening. Although these cards do not exempt anyone from security screening, they may improve communication and help travelers discreetly notify TSA officers of their conditions. This card can be found at www.tsa.gov.

 

Tips for Travelers with Ports, Catheters, Medications, and Ostomies

 

It is very important that travelers communicate their specific needs to the TSA officer before screening begins to facilitate the airport screening experience. You may provide this information to the TSA officer verbally or in writing, such as by presenting the TSA Notification Card, to communicate discreetly with TSA officers. However, showing this card, or other medical documentation, will not exempt a passenger from screening.

 

Inform the TSA officer if you:

 

• have any disability or medical devices, such as ports, catheters or an ostomy, where they are located, and any pain or medical complications that could happen if touched;
• have medically necessary liquids, such as cans of formula, IV solutions or other medications, including sterile supplies that need to be screened. These medically necessary liquids and other medications should be separated from other carry-on items and are allowed through security checkpoints after undergoing x-ray or inspection screening;
• have difficulty raising your arms;
• have difficulty walking or standing alone and need assistance;
• would like to move to the front of the screening line; or
• would like private screening if a pat-down is provided.

 

If a pat-down is conducted it is important to know:

 

• the pat-down will be conducted by a TSA officer of the same gender;
• passengers may ask for private screening at any time;
• a private screening will be offered if the pat-down involves sensitive areas;
• a companion may be present during the private pat-down screening with the TSA officer or other TSA employee, and this companion will be rescreened when the pat-down is completed;
• passengers may request a chair if they need to sit;
• passengers should not be asked or required to remove or lift any article of clothing to reveal a sensitive body area; and
• an ostomy pouch is subject to additional screening and may require you to conduct a self pat-down of the ostomy, followed by a test of your hands for any trace of explosives.

 

If undergoing standard screening, you will be required to remove:

 

• belt;
• shoes;
• jacket/coat/light outerwear;
• 3-1-1 compliant bag;
• medically necessary liquids from carry-on;
• laptop and large electronics from carry-on;
• video cameras that use video cassettes; and
• CPAP/BPAP.

 

It is recommended that you remove items from your pockets to expedite the screening process and minimize the opportunity for additional screening.

 

TSA’s Disability and Medical Conditions Coalition

 

In order to better understand the needs and concerns of travelers with disabilities, TSA engages regularly with a coalition of organizations representing individuals with disabilities and medical conditions. In addition TSA meets with the coalition annually to exchange information and gather feedback. The Oley Foundation is part of TSA’s Disability and Medical Conditions Coalition. If you would like more information about the TSA Disability and Medical Conditions Coalition, or about TSA’s security screening, please contact Susan.Buckland@tsa.dhs.gov.

 

LifelineLetter, May/June 2016
Updated 8/16/16

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This website is an educational resource. It is not intended to provide medical advice or recommend a course of treatment. You should discuss all issues, ideas, suggestions, etc. with your clinician prior to use. Clinicians in a relevant field have reviewed the medical information; however, the Oley Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented, and is not liable if information is incorrect or incomplete. If you have questions please contact Oley staff.

 

Updated in 2015 with a generous grant from Shire, Inc. 

 

This website was updated in 2015 with a generous grant from Shire, Inc. This website is an educational resource. It is not intended to provide medical advice or recommend a course of treatment. You should discuss all issues, ideas, suggestions, etc. with your clinician prior to use. Clinicians in a relevant field have reviewed the medical information; however, the Oley Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented, and is not liable if information is incorrect or incomplete. If you have questions please contact Oley staff.
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