The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the agency responsible for airport security screening at U.S. airports, provides a helpline dedicated to helping travelers with disabling conditions or medical issues called TSA Cares. This helpline was created to answer concerns regarding the security screening policies and procedures related to individuals with medical needs and disability.
To make use of this new service, contact TSA Cares at least 72 hours ahead of the flight time. According to the TSA, callers will be able to speak to a representative. Information will be available through the representative or through referral to a disability expert with the TSA. If needed, the representative may also coordinate support at the airport with a TSA Customer Services Manager.
To contact TSA Cares, call the toll-free number at 1-855-787-2227. Hours of operation have been expanded to 8 a.m. through 11 p.m. EST on Monday through Friday (except for on federal holidays). The center can also be contacted via email at TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov .
Regardless of disability or medical issues, every traveler must be screened. According to the TSA website, the TSA has anticipated the needs of travelers’ with mobility issues through collaboration with advocacy groups. They have provisions for many types of disabilities and health issues, including those coping with neuromuscular disease. If issues arise at the security checkpoint during travel, you may ask to speak to a TSA supervisor on site.
In the past, travelers with disability or medical issues have complained about problems with TSA security procedures. There have been complaints of embarrassing or intrusive searches, and of travelers not being allowed to bring needed equipment onto the airplane or not being allowed to board the flight.
A printable card for travelers with a disability or medical issue is also available. The purpose of this card is to help travelers communicate with airport security officers (see article linked below for more information about the TSA card). Through making use of this card and the new TSA Cares helpline, hopefully travelers with disabilities or medical issues will find security checkpoints to be less intimidating and easier to navigate.
Norman, B., (2010). Card Issued for Air travelers with Disabilities. MDA Quest. Retrieved from http://quest.mda.org/news/card-issued-air-travelers-disabilities on 12/10/14.
Norman, B., (2012). ‘TSA Cares’ To Aid Air Travelers with Disability. MDA Quest. Retrieved from http://quest.mda.org/news/tsa-cares-aid-air-travelers-disabilities on 12/10/14.
Transportation Security Administration, (2011). TSA Announces Launch of TSA Cares Toll Free Helpline for Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Needs. TSA website. Retrieved from http://www.tsa.gov/press/releases/2011/1222.shtm on 1210/14.
Transportation Security Administration, (2014). TSA Cares: Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions. TSA website. Retrieved from http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/travelers-disabilities-and-medical-conditions on 12/10/14.
Transportation Security Administration website, (2012). Notification Card: Travelers with Diabilities and Medical Conditions. Retrieved from http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/notification-card on 12/10/14.
Transportation Security Administration, (n.d), Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions: Traveler Information: TSA Cares Help Line. Retrieved from http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/travelers-disabilities-and-medical-conditions on 12/10/14.