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What to Expect:TSA Precheck & Screening Tips

TSA What to Expect Header

Disability Branch, Office of Civil Rights & Liberties, Ombudsman, and Traveler Engagement

The Transportation Security Administration is committed to ensuring access and serving all individuals with disabilities with Respect and Dignity.  We hope this guidance will facilitate your security checkpoint screening experience.

If you are enrolled in a trusted traveler program (TSA Precheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI), enter your Known Traveler Number or PASS ID when making airline reservations.  When you check in for a flight, look for the TSA Precheck boarding pass indicator.

The following information is provided to assist travelers using the Standard Screening lanes or the TSA Precheck (TSA Pre✓®) lanes.  For additional security screening information, please visit the Special Procedures page on TSA.gov.

Travelers without TSA Precheck on their boarding passes should:

  • Proceed to the standard screening line;
  •  Present your boarding pass and government-issued ID to the TSA travel document checker;
  • The TSA travel document checker will scan your boarding pass barcode, verify your identification and validate your travel document.

At the beginning of screening:

Travelers may use the TSA Disability Notification Card to communicate discreetly with TSA officers.  However, showing this card, or other     medical documentation, will not exempt a traveler from screening.

      Inform the TSA officer if you:

  • have a preferred mode of communication;
  • need assistance throughout screening;
  • have medically-necessary liquids or fluids that need to be screened. These should be separated from other carry-on items;
  • have any pain or medical complications that could happen if touched;
  • have difficulty walking or standing alone and need assistance;
  • have difficulty raising your arms;
  • would like to move to the front of the screening line;
  • would like private screening if a pat-down is provided.

During the screening process:

  • Passengers may experience longer lines depending on the date and time of travel.
  • If eligible, travelers may be screened using advanced imaging technology, or a walk-through metal detector, or they may be screened using a pat-down.

Required to remove:

  • Shoes, Jackets/Coats/Light outerwear, 3-1-1 compliant bag, medically necessary liquids, Laptop and large electronics from carry-on, Video cameras that use video cassettes, CPAP/BPAP.  Other items may be asked to be removed from carry-on.

It is recommended that you remove items from your pockets, bulky outer garments, or other items that might cause an alarm to expedite the screening process and minimize the opportunity for additional screening.

Travelers with TSA Precheck on their boarding passes should:

  • Proceed to the TSA Precheck line;
  • Present your boarding pass and government-issued ID to the TSA travel document checker;
  • The TSA travel document checker will scan your boarding pass barcode, verify your identification, validate your travel document and TSA Precheck eligibility.

At the beginning of screening:

Travelers may use the TSA Disability Notification Card to communicate discreetly with TSA officers. However, showing this card, or other medical documentation, will not exempt a traveler from screening.

Inform the TSA officer if you:

  • have a preferred mode of communication;
  • need assistance throughout screening;
  • have medically-necessary liquids or fluids that need to be screened.  These should be separated from other carry-on items;
  • have any pain or medical complications that could happen if touched;
  • have difficulty walking or standing alone and need assistance;
  • have difficulty raising your arms;
  • would like to move to the front of the screening line;
  • would like private screening if a pat-down is provided.

During the screening process:

  • Generally, TSA Pre✓® (TSA Precheck) lines are shorter and have less wait times. Find out when TSA Precheck lanes are available at your airport at TSA Precheck Checkpoint Schedule.
  • If eligible, travelers may be screened using advanced imaging technology, or a walk-through metal detector, or they may be screened using a pat-down.

Not required to remove:

  • Shoes, Jacket/Coat/Light Outerwear, 3-1-1 compliant bag, Laptop and large electronics from carry-on, CPAP/BPAP

Required to remove:

  • Medically necessary liquids, gels and aerosols over 3.4 ounces

Travelers with disabilities and TSA Precheck on their boarding passes receive TSA Precheck on-person screening when screened on a standard lane for any reason (for example, when the TSA Precheck lane is closed). Accessible property on standard lanes may continue to undergo standard screening (including removal of electronics larger than a cell phone, 3-1-1 compliant liquids, and CPAP/BPAP equipment).

It is recommended that you remove items from your pockets, bulky outer garments, or other items that might cause an alarm to expedite the screening process and minimize the opportunity for additional screening.

TSA Cares

  • TSA Cares is a toll-free helpline,1-855-787-2227 or Federal Relay 711, available for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions to get the latest information on screening. You may call from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekends and holidays.
  • Travelers with disabilities or medical conditions who would like assistance at the checkpoint should call no less than 72 hours ahead of travel so that TSA Cares has the opportunity to coordinate checkpoint support.
  • Checkpoint support may include coordination with a Passenger Support Specialist (PSS). Each airport has different resources; therefore, the level of assistance you receive can vary. Some airports have an individual who will call you to gather additional information and arrange a meeting time and place. Other locations notify the checkpoint manager of your itinerary, but no pre-contact is made. If you arrive at the checkpoint and have any concerns before, during, or after the screening process, you should immediately request to speak with a Supervisory Transportation Security Officer (STSO) or a Passenger Support Specialist for assistance.
  • Learn more about screening procedures for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions at TSA.gov.

Planning Your Trip:

  • Arrive early to allow time to screen medically-necessary liquids and medical devices.
  • Communicate your specific needs to the TSA officer before screening begins to facilitate your airport screening experience. This can include information about medically-necessary liquids, equipment, and devices as well as the location of sensitive areas. You may provide this information to the TSA officer verbally, or present a TSA notification card to the TSA officer.
  • The notification card is a basic, non-verbal way for you to communicate your disability or medical condition to officers. However, the notification card does not exempt travelers from screening.
  • The 3-1-1 liquids rule for carry-ons allows each traveler to have liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes in quantities of 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container; in 1 quart sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; and 1 bag. The size restriction (3.4 ounces) does not apply to medically-necessary liquids for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. However, you must declare medically-necessary liquids for inspection at the checkpoint, and officers may need to conduct additional screening of these items.
  • Medical and disability-related tools and equipment are permitted in carry-on baggage.

Passenger Support Specialists:

  • Travelers may request the assistance of a passenger support specialist through TSA Cares, or at the airport.
  • The specialist is a specially trained staff member who provides travelers with disabilities and medical conditions on-the-spot assistance at security checkpoints.

Learn more about passenger support specialists at TSA.gov.

Advanced Imaging Technology:

  • Travelers are eligible to be screened using advanced imaging technology if they are able to stand and walk through the machine; stand and hold their hands above their head for five to seven seconds without support; and if there is an alarm, stand for additional time to resolve the alarm.
  • Travelers not wishing to be screened by advanced imaging technology, and travelers who are not eligible for such screening, can request a pat-down.

Learn more about advanced imaging technology at TSA.gov.

Walk-Through Metal Detectors:

  • Travelers may be screened by walk-through metal detectors if they can walk through the machine on their own.
  • Travelers cannot request metal detector screening in lieu of advanced imaging technology or a pat-down.

Learn more about walk-through metal detectors at TSA.gov.

Pat-Downs:

  • Except under extraordinary circumstances, when conducted, the Pat-Down will be performed by a TSA officer of the same gender.
  • A traveler can request a private screening, and be accompanied by a companion of his or her choosing.
  • Additionally, the traveler can request a chair if he or she needs to sit down.
  • Travelers should not be asked to remove or lift any article of clothing to reveal a sensitive body area.

Learn more about pat-downs at TSA.gov.

Explosive Trace Detection Screening:

  • TSA officers may swab personal property, or a traveler’s hands, and then use explosive trace detection technology to test for explosives.
  • The swab is placed inside the unit, which analyzes the content for the presence of potential explosive residue.
  • Travelers can request a new swab prior to their hands being sampled.

Learn more about explosive trace detection at TSA.gov.

75 Years Old and Over:

  • Travelers who appear 75 years old and over can leave their light jackets, garments and shoes on while going through security checkpoints, even in the standard screening lanes.

Learn more about procedures for travelers 75 years old and older at TSA.gov.

12 Years Old and Under:

  • Travelers who appear 12 years old or younger can leave their light outer jackets, garments and shoes on while going through security checkpoints, even in the standard screening lanes.

Learn more about traveling with children through the checkpoint at TSA.gov.

  • Known Traveler Number (KTN): Enter your known traveler number when you book your flight to get TSA Precheck benefits.
  • Packing: Separate medically-necessary liquids and equipment from other belongings so they can be quickly identified and accessed for screening.
  • Companion: You can be accompanied by a companion of your choosing to provide assistance during the screening process. However, the companion must be re-screened after providing assistance that involves physical contact.
  • Body Piercing: Certain metal body piercings may cause the machines to alarm, which will result in additional screening.
  • Gift Wrapping: If a security officer needs to inspect a package, a gift may have to be unwrapped. Passengers should refrain from wrapping gifts until arriving at their final destination.

Learn more about TSA and TSA Precheck at TSA.gov.

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