The Helping Heroes Fly Act will require expedited TSA screenings for injured or disabled active military members and veterans. Passed by Congress and signed by the president on August 12, 2013, this is the respect that our military deserves. Hopefully, this is the first step toward the TSA making airport security more manageable for all people with disabilities and the people waiting in line behind us.
TSA and Travelers with Disabilities
As a person with disabilities, TSA screenings are one of the most stressful parts of traveling. I use either my scooter or an airport provided wheelchair and it takes me a great deal of time to go through the screening process. I must have a carry-on bag, which is packed with medications and supplies. That bag often ends up being inspected because of the liquid medications.
I no longer request that my medications not be X-rayed, even though that is my preference. With difficulty removing my shoes (even slip-ons), I require assistance. Getting out of the wheelchair or scooter is a slow process, but I will not ask to be screened while seated because the outcome is a pat-down.
TSA Screenings and Emotions
It is often an emotional time for me during TSA screenings. I cherish my independence. Parading the need for assistance brings me down. Knowing that there is a chance of my many medications being displayed makes me upset.
There have been stories of people faking being disabled to get special treatment, so people in line behind me may wonder why I can walk or get out of the airport wheelchair at all. I have actually heard whispers about this. Their disbelief and judgement makes me angry for myself and for others like me. Hearing rumblings about how long my screening is taking is distressing as well.
The Future of the TSA and Travelers with Disabilities
The TSA does provide extra assistance to people with special needs, but it is not enough. Some airports have lanes set aside too, but this is after you wait in the general line. The TSA allows requests, either verbally or with notification cards, to move to the front of the line. Have you ever tried to get the attention of a TSA worker while in the security line? It is often near impossible.
The fastest service I get is with an airport wheelchair attendant. When alone on my scooter, I have gotten some help, but it is with the above problems.
Will the federal government consider either expedited screenings or a separate lane from the start for those of us with medical conditions and disabilities? I believe it is well worth it.