TSA Creates Helpline for Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions
Airline travel for people with disabilities, whether you’re a wheelchair user or living with disorders like multiple sclerosis (MS), can sometimes be a big hassle. Ok, ok, it is always a big hassle. For most of your average airline customers, the heightened security and screening procedures are no picnic. And if you’re traveling with medical and mobility equipment the entire process can be extraordinarily draining. It’s enough to keep some from opting out of a dream vacation for a staycation at home. What fun is that?
The good news––at least we hope––is that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently created a toll-free helpline called TSA Cares to assist travelers with disabilities with questions about screening policies, procedures, and what to expect at the dreaded security checkpoint.
For instance, “Hi TSA rep, I have MS and I’m traveling with 20 needles to inject my medicine, is this going to be a problem?” You get the idea.
You can call the TSA Cares helpline number at 1-855-787-2227, Monday through Friday 9 am – 9 pm EST, excluding federal holidays.
According to the TSA, the helpline will serve as an additional, dedicated resource specifically for passengers with disabilities, medical conditions or other circumstances or their loved ones who want to prepare for the screening process prior to flying. 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 approximately 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.
Will the TSA Care program make a difference for many travelers with disabilities? That has yet to be determined. If the Customer Service Manager remains open and impartial and the TSA screening agent is properly trained and sensitive to the person’s disability, this new helpline could help ease the burden many encounter when heading to the airport.
Able to Travel is interested in just how much the TSA cares. If any of you have called the new helpline with questions, we’d enjoy hearing about your experiences, good and bad.