Transportation Security Administration
Air travel can be difficult, and navigating an airport security checkpoint can be especially difficult when traveling with a disability. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) provides specific resources for passengers with disabilities and certain medical conditions. All TSA personnel who work at airport checkpoints receive training on screening passengers with disabilities and medical conditions, which emphasizes treating passengers with dignity, respect, and sensitivity. In addition, there are the TSA Cares, Passenger Support Specialist (PSS), and the TSA Pre✓™ programs.
TSA Cares is a helpline that assists travelers with disabilities and medical conditions and their families prior to airport arrival. Travelers can call ahead and ask questions about screening as well as what to expect at the security checkpoint. TSA Cares provides information about screening that is relevant to the traveler’s specific disability or medical condition, and travelers also have the opportunity to speak with disability experts at TSA.
Travelers may call TSA Cares toll free at 1-855-787-2227 prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures, and what to expect at the security checkpoint. TSA Cares serves as an additional, dedicated resource specifically for passengers with disabilities, passengers who have medical conditions or other circumstances who want to prepare for the screening process prior to flying.
The hours of operation for the TSA Cares help line are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. EST and weekends and holidays 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. EST. Travelers who are deaf or hard of hearing can use a relay service to contact TSA Cares or can e-mail TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov.
When a passenger with a disability or medical condition calls TSA Cares, a representative will provide assistance, either with information about screening that is relevant to the passenger’s specific disability or medical condition, or the passenger may be referred to disability experts at TSA.
TSA recommends that passengers call no less than 72 hours ahead of travel so that TSA Cares has the opportunity to coordinate checkpoint support with a TSA Customer Service Manager located at the airport when necessary. If a passenger wants information about screening for a particular device, TSA recommends that he or she call TSA Cares to learn more about what to expect throughout the screening process.
In addition to TSA Cares, there is the Passenger Support Specialist (PSS) program. The PSSs are Transportation Security Officers and Supervisors who, in addition to their regular checkpoint duties, have volunteered to take on the responsibility of assisting passengers who may be in need of assistance. The PSS volunteers receive special training to provide assistance and resolve traveler-related screening concerns, primarily for travelers with disabilities. At some airports, Passenger Support Specialists complement the TSA Cares program. TSA personnel can call PSS to assist travelers who may need assistance.
Travelers who need assistance or are concerned about TSA screening can ask a checkpoint officer or supervisor for a Passenger Support Specialist. The PSS volunteers are trained to be caring, empathetic, calm, poised, and determined to assist and solve any problem that arises. TSA would like to have a PSS in the vicinity of every checkpoint to provide proactive assistance and resolve traveler-related screening concerns.
Another TSA program that assists passengers is TSA Pre✓™. This program allows low-risk travelers to experience faster, more efficient screening at participating U.S. airport checkpoints for domestic and international travel.
The TSA Pre✓™ expedited screening program allows members to pass through airport security checkpoints without removing their belt, shoes, laptop from the bag, light outerwear/jacket and 3-1-1 compliant bag. Under the new application process, U.S. citizens can pre-enroll for the program online and visit an application center to verify their identities and provide fingerprints. Once the TSA approves an application, in a matter of weeks or even days, the agency issues the applicant a “known traveler number,” which allows that person to use the Pre-Check security lanes at more than 115 participating airports. There is an $85 non-refundable application processing fee, and the membership is valid for five years. Also, TSA extended Pre-Check enrollment to include active-duty and reserve members of the U.S. military services, the National Guard, and the U.S. Coast Guard based on their Department of Defense identification numbers.
TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport and no individual will be guaranteed TSA Pre✓™ screening.
Travelers are encouraged to visit TSA’s website for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions at http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/travelers-disabilities-and-medical-conditions for more information. This website provides specific information on what to expect for passengers with specific disabilities or medical conditions.