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Traveling with Alzheimer’s:
12 Tips for Navigating Airport Security

Having Alzheimer’s doesn’t automatically rule out air travel; however advance planning is essential for a smoother trip. With that in mind, here are a few things to keep in mind, as you head through the airport security checkpoint.

  • Arrive early, so you can allow plenty of extra time to get through security.
  • Request a wheelchair for the person in your care, even if they don’t use one at home. Not only will it prevent fatigue, but wheelchair-users are usually fast tracked through security.
  • Have the person in your care carry a “traveling with” card in their wallet, with your name and cell phone number on it.
  • Canes and walkers are allowed through security checkpoints, but they will be inspected thoroughly by security personnel.
  • Medications may be visually inspected instead of being x-rayed; however, you must request this before the screening process begins.
  • Liquid medications are allowed through the security checkpoint; however if they are over 3 ounces, they must d be declared to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Officer before the screening process begins.
  • Passengers are not required to remove their shoes if their disability prevents them from doing so; however they will be subject to a manual pat-down.
  • Passengers who can’t walk or go through the metal detector will be given a manual pat-down. These passengers have the right to a private screening and to have a companion present during that screening.
  • Passengers are not required to transfer from their wheelchairs for manual pat-downs, but they will be required to lean forward. Make sure and inform the TSA Officer if the person in your care has difficulty moving or has sensitive or sore areas.
  • Inform the TSA Officer before the manual pat-down begins if the person in your care has an ostomy bag. Passengers are not required to remove or expose their ostomy bags at TSA checkpoints.
  • If you’re picking up or dropping off someone with Alzheimer’s at the airport, make sure and obtain a gate pass at the check-in counter. This will allow you to pass through the security checkpoint and access the gates.
  • Additional information about security screening policies and procedures for disabled passengers may be obtained by calling the TSA Cares hotline at (855) 787-2227.

Candy Harrington has been covering accessible travel exclusively for the past 16 years. She’s the editor of Emerging Horizons (www.EmergingHorizons.com), and the author of several accessible travel titles, including the classic Barrier-Free Travels; A Nuts and Bolts Guide for Wheelers and Slow Walkers (www.barrierfreetravel.net). She also blogs about accessible travel issues at www.barrierfreetravels.com.