Travel is one of the greatest opportunities to experience new places and meet new people. Flying from one state to another — or even to other countries – is a privilege. However, if you depend on a mobility scooter or wheelchair to get around, air travel can be a bit more cumbersome. Long lines, traffic, and security checkpoints can make anybody want to stay close to home. Travel in a scooter or wheelchair can still be a liberating experience if you plan in advance.
TSA security screening
When traveling by air, all travelers are required to go through a security screening before advancing to their gate where the plane takes off. This is to ensure the safety of all travelers and flight personnel. If you are able to walk and stand on your own, you will be required to walk through a security machine that utilizes x-ray technology . Your luggage and other devices will be put through another screening machine.
#1 Communicate with TSA
The TSA officers are those who are responsible for security at the airport. They do personal body checks as well as check your personal belongings before boarding the aircraft. If you are in a wheelchair or mobility scooter, you can communicate your disability with the TSA officer. If you have other medical issues, you may use a TSA notification card or other medical paperwork which will alert the officers to how to best support you through security.
#2 Know your limits
If you are able to stand for 5 to 7 seconds at a time without support, the TSA officers will allow you to walk through the screening technology or metal detector. Your wheelchair or mobility scooter will undergo x-ray screening or inspection from a TSA officer. Again, it is important for you to communicate your abilities with the TSA officer if you need immediate access to your scooter or wheelchair the moment you go through the security screening.
#3 Be prepared
If you are unable to stand, the TSA officer is able to do a pat-down screen while you are seated in your mobility scooter or wheelchair. For those who are able to stand, but cannot walk very far, you will be permitted to stand next to your device.
#4 Take your time
Air travel can be efficient and fun if you are able to plan advance. If you know that you require extra time to maneuver through security, be sure to arrive in plenty of time so that you are not forced to rush once you get through. TSA officers are generally well trained in knowing how to support travelers who have mobility scooters and wheelchairs. As long as you or a traveling companion are able to communicate with a TSA officer, you should be able to move through security with little to no problems.
If you need assistance getting to the airport, or want to travel by car after you get to your desired location, be sure to check out wheelchair accessible taxi services nearby for a simple transportation solution!