With increased levels of airport security in recent years, going through security checks has become more stressful for everyone, but if you are a traveller who has special needs it can be particularly difficult. |
Whether you are physically impaired or you need to carry medicines or equipment, there are certain things you can do to ensure a smooth passage through security when you are disabled. We believe that holidays should be stress free, and knowing what you need to do as you pass through security can keep them that way.
It’s important to make the security staff at the airport aware of any special needs or requirements you may have. Let them know if you find it difficult to stand for too long, if you have medical equipment or implants or if you are carrying medication. (The rules about liquids do not apply to prescribed medicines so make sure you carry these separately and that the security team is aware of what they are).
If you need someone to travel with you, or you are travelling with someone with special mental or physical needs, don’t be afraid to speak out and tell the security team that you need to stick together.
If the metal detector presents a problem for any reason (a medical implant can sometimes set them off, or if you have difficulty standing), other options may be available, such as a scanning device or pat-down.
I would also recommend that you talk to your doctor before you travel if you have any specific concerns such as the effect of screenings on certain implants or whether, as you pass through security, your oxygen can be disabled. Holidays can be a lot less stressful if you address these concerns before you arrive at the airport.
• Carrying medication – Necessary medication (including liquids) can be carried in hand luggage and is exempt from usual liquid allowances but must still undergo screening. For liquid medication it is important to separate it from other liquids and present it to security staff. It will help if all medication is clearly labelled. Storage units and accessories for medicines such as ice packs and syringes are also allowed but will undergo screening. You must inform staff if the medication should not be opened. • Travelling with mobility aids – If you are able to stand and walk you will be expected to pass through screening and have your mobility aid (wheelchairs, crutches, walkers etc) checked separately. Those who cannot stand for a prolonged time will have a pat-down check while seated. Wheelchairs will be inspected. • Intellectual disabilities – If you, or a person you are travelling with, have intellectual or developmental disabilities it is possible to be screened with a companion but you must make staff aware of your requirements. • Visually impaired ¬– Inform the security staff of your requirements. Visual aids will need to be screened. • Hearing impaired – Inform security staff of your requirements. Hearing equipment does not need to be removed. • Service animals – Animals will also need to be screened and all unnecessary accessories must be removed and screened separately. You may walk through the metal detector together or walk first and lead the animal through after you. If the animal sets of the alarm, do not touch it (other than holding the lead) until it has been checked by security staff.
Security staff at most airports will do their best to accommodate the special needs of those who are disabled. Holidays begin at the airport, so keeping security staff informed will ensure a stress-free start to your time away.
Philip Scott is the owner and founder of Can Be Done, a fully licensed UK tour operator specialising in disabled holidays across the world for individuals and groups who are travelling with a handicap. With over 31 years’ experience organising long and short breaks for disabled travellers, Philip has built a reputation for helping his clients select hotels and accommodation that offer high standards of accessibility to ensure that those with special needs can experience truly relaxing and carefree holidays.
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