TSA provides update on security screenings for disabled passengers

TUCSON, Ariz. — Charles Sparks, Transportation Security Administration federal security director at Tucson International and Yuma International Airports, highlighted recent updates and information for amputees traveling through security screenings during the Amputee Coalition National Conference.

Currently, all disability-related aids and supplies are allowed through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints once they have undergone screening. This includes wheelchairs, assistive animals, walking devices, prostheses and related tools.

Passengers can be screened using a walk-through metal detector, advanced imaging technology or a standard pat-down, Sparks said. Passengers are no longer required to remove their prostheses for screening, but the device may receive physical inspection and explosive trace detection.

Screenings ultimately depend on needs communicated by the passenger and level of technology in the airport, according to Sparks

“However, we receive recurring training on screening disabled passengers with dignity, respect and sensibility,” he said. “We take that seriously.”

The TSA recently established a coalition of more than 100 groups and organizations representing passengers with disabilities. The administration also launched “TSA Cares,” a helpline for disabled passengers used to prepare assistance and seek information, and the “Passenger Support Specialist” program, which is designed to resolve travel-related screening concerns.

“We meet quarterly to make all of our policies relating to disabilities the very best they can be,” Sparks said. “No matter what the policies are, it boils down to a person talking to another person. That is what counts most at the security checkpoint.”

Sparks suggests passengers inform the TSA of their needs before screening. – by Shawn M. Carter

For more information: tsa.gov.


Sparks C. TSA security screening: What to know before you go. Presented at: Amputee Coalition National Conference; July 23-25, 2015; Tucson, Ariz.

Disclosure: Sparks is a paid employee of the Transportation Security Administration at Tucson International and Yuma International Airport.

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