The following is from Susan Buckland
Senior Policy Advisor
Management and Program Analyst
TSA POC and Liaison
Disability and Medical Condition Coalition
Office of Civil Rights and Liberties, Ombudsmen and Traveler Engagement
Transportation Security Administration
Department of Homeland Security
I am writing to share some important tips to help you better prepare for security screening at our Nation’s airport screening checkpoints for the 2017 holiday traveling season. Wait times and long lines are expected to increase as more people travel during the holidays. With this in mind, the following tips may help you better prepare for screening:
All travelers should arrive at least two hours early for domestic and three hours early for international flights, to allow plenty of time to get through security screening.
Travelers with disabilities or medical conditions who have concerns about airport screening should contact TSA Cares at least 72 hours before travel: call TSA Cares toll free at (855) 787-2227 or Federal Relay 711, between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. ET Monday to Friday; between 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET on weekends/holidays; or by email at TSAContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov. TSA Cares agents provide callers with specific information about what to expect during screening so that travelers with disabilities or medical conditions may better prepare for travel. To learn more about TSA Cares visit https://www.tsa.gov/contact/customer-service.
Travelers with disabilities or medical conditions can provide a TSA Cares agent with a flight itinerary, and TSA Cares will coordinate assistance available from a Passenger Support Specialist (PSS) and/or customer service manager at the airport. This assistance may also be requested at the checkpoint, but pre-travel (72-hour notice) arrangements are recommended, and travelers should still arrive at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights. The Passenger Support Specialists assist travelers, address traveler-related screening concerns immediately and provide in-person on the spot assistance to travelers requesting assistance in order to enhance the traveler experience, and maintain efficiency in carrying out TSA’s mission. When requesting PSS assistance, keep in mind that each airport has different resources; therefore, the level of assistance received at the checkpoint can vary. Some airports have an individual who will call the traveler to gather additional information and arrange a meeting time and place. Other locations notify the checkpoint manager of the traveler’s itinerary, but no pre-contact is made. Travelers who are traveling with a companion may request that they remain together throughout the security screening process. If a traveler arrives at the checkpoint and has any concerns before, during, or after the screening process, he or she should immediately request to speak with a Supervisory TSA Officer or a Passenger Support Specialist for assistance.
Travelers may also download TSA’s Disability Notification Card, which allows a traveler to discreetly notify the TSA Officer of a disability, medical condition, or request for accommodation or assistance. This card does not exempt a traveler from screening. Access the wallet-sized card at https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/disability_notification_card_508.pdf.
If you would like to learn more about what to expect for disability or medical condition screenings please visit https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures.
Finally, you may find shorter lines and wait times by enrolling in TSA Pre✓®. TSA Pre✓® passengers do not need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts, or light jackets during the screening process at participating airports. However, passengers are required to undergo screening at the checkpoint by technology or a pat-down. TSA Officers may swab your hands, mobility aid, equipment and other external medical devices to test for explosives using explosives trace detection technology. Traveling companions of TSA Pre✓® passengers also must have TSA Pre✓® in order to access the TSA Pre✓® lanes. For more information about how to apply for TSA Pre✓® please visit https://www.tsa.gov/precheck.
TSA works hard every day to ensure that you and your loved ones arrive at your destinations safely. TSA remains committed to ensuring that all travelers are treated with respect, dignity and courtesy.