Flying with young children can be stressful. It can be difficult for parents of kids who have disabilities, or certain medical conditions, to know what it will be like for their child to go through airport security. Before you fly, try calling the new TSA helpline. It might be able to answer your questions.
By now, everyone has heard a few “horror stories” about parents who were hassled by the TSA, or the staff on an airplane, specifically because of their child. It is understandable that parents of kids who have special needs would feel some anxiety about traveling by plane with their child. You might have many questions about what to expect, how things will go, or what items you cannot bring onto the plane.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has launched something called “TSA Cares”. It is a helpline that is designed to help “travelers with disabilities and medical conditions, prior to getting to the airport”. The toll free phone number is 1- 855- 787- 2227. The phone line will be open on Monday through Friday from 9:00 in the morning through 9:00 at night EST. It will not be open on federal holidays, or after hours.
Parents who will be traveling with children that have special needs, disabilities, or serious medical conditions can call this number to ask questions about screening policies, procedures, and what to expect at the security checkpoint. Or, you can get online and contact the TSA by using the “Talk to TSA” website.
When you call the toll free number, a TSA representative will provide assistance to you by giving you information that is relevant to your child’s specific disability or medical condition. Or, the TSA representative might refer you to a TSA disability expert.
It is recommended that you call the toll free number at least 72 hours before you are going to travel. This is so that TSA Cares has time to coordinate checkpoint support with a TSA Customer Service Manager located where you will be going through security.
You can always ask to speak with a TSA supervisor if you have unanswered questions about screening procedures while you are at the security checkpoint. It is worth noting that all people and every item must be screened before entering the secure area of the airport.
There is the potential that working with the TSA Cares system could make it a bit less uncomfortable, or scary, for your child who has special needs to go through the airport security system. It can’t hurt to call the phone number, and ask all your questions. If anything, it could bring parents some “peace of mind”, which can a great thing to have right before traveling by plane with children.
Image by Daniel Lobo on Flickr