People with Disabilities and Airline Security
The Department of Transportation has the fact sheet below: It addresses
concerns that people with disabilties have about airport security. It must
be noted that while passengers with disabilties have the right to be treated
without discrimination, as required by the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA),
a complete security screening does not violate this law.
Should you encounter problems please see the last paragraph of this notice to
see how to file a complaint.
U.S. Department of Transportation Fact Sheet
"Steps Taken to Ensure New Security Requirements Preserve and Respect
the Civil Rights of People with Disabilities"
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and the Department of Transportation's
implementing rules prohibit discriminatory treatment of persons with
disabilities in air transportation. Since the terrorist hijackings and tragic
events of September 11, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued
directives to strengthen security measures at airline checkpoints and passenger
In securing our national air transportation system, where much of FAA's
efforts have been directed to date, steps were also taken to ensure that the new
security procedures preserve and respect the civil rights of passengers with
disabilities. This Fact Sheet provides information about the accessibility
requirements in air travel in light of strengthened security measures by
providing a few examples of the types of accommodations and services that must
be provided to passengers with disabilities. The examples listed below are not
all-inclusive and are simply meant to provide answers to frequently asked
questions since September 11 concerning the air travel of people with
- Air carriers must provide meet and assist service (e.g., assistance
to gate or aircraft) at drop-off points. The lack of curbside check-in, for
certain airlines at some airports, has not changed the requirement for meet
and assist service at drop-off points.
- Individuals assisting passengers with disabilities are allowed
beyond the screener checkpoints. These individuals may be required to
present themselves at the airlines' check-in desk and receive a
"pass" allowing them to go through the screener checkpoint without
- Ticketed passengers with their own oxygen for use on the ground are
allowed beyond the screener checkpoints with their oxygen canisters once the
canisters have been thoroughly inspected. If there is a request for oxygen
at the gate for a qualified passenger with a disability, commercial oxygen
providers are allowed beyond the screener checkpoints with oxygen canisters
once the canisters have been thoroughly inspected. Commercial oxygen
providers may be required to present themselves at the airlines check-in
desk and receive a "pass" allowing them to go through the screener
checkpoint without a ticket.
- The limit of one carry-on bag and one personal bag (e.g., purse or
briefcase) for each traveler does not apply to medical supplies and/or
assistive devices. Passengers with disabilities generally may carry medical
equipment, medications, and assistive devices on board the aircraft.
- All persons allowed beyond the screener checkpoints may be searched.
This will usually be done through the use of a hand-held metal detector,
whenever possible. Passengers may also be patted down during security
screenings, and this is even more likely if the passenger uses a wheelchair
and is unable to stand up. Private screenings remain an option for persons
- Service animals, once inspected to ensure prohibited items are not
concealed, are permitted on board an aircraft. Any backpack or sidepack that
is carried on the animal will be manually inspected or put through the X-ray
machines. The service animal's halter may also be removed for inspection.
- Assistive devices such as walking canes, once inspected to ensure
prohibited items are not concealed, are permitted on board an aircraft.
Assistive devices such as augmentative communication devices and Braille 'N
Speaks will go through the same sort of security screening process as used
for personal computers.
- Syringes are permitted on board an aircraft once it is determined
that the person has a documented medical need for the syringe.
- Personal wheelchairs and battery-powered scooters may still be used
to reach departure gates after they are inspected to ensure that they do not
present a security risk. Any backpack or sidepack that is carried on the
wheelchair will be manually inspected or put through the X-ray machines.
- Personal wheelchairs will still be allowed to be stowed on board an
- Air carriers must ensure that qualified individuals with a
disability, including those with vision or hearing impairments, have timely
access to information, such as new security measures, the carriers provide
to other passengers. For example, on flights to Reagan Washington National
Airport, persons are verbally warned to use the restrooms more than a half
an hour before arrival since after that point in time passengers are
required to remain in their seats. Alternative formats are necessary to
ensure that all passengers, especially deaf persons, understand new security
measures such as the one at Reagan Washington National.
We hope this information is helpful to you. Members
of the public, who feel they have been the subject of discriminatory actions or
treatment by air carriers, may file a complaint by sending an email, a letter,
or a ompleted complaint form to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division (ACPD).: firstname.lastname@example.org
ACPD's e-mail address is
and its mailing address is:
Aviation Consumer Protection Division,
U.S. Department of Transportation,
Room 4107, C-75, Washington, DC 20590.
Complaint forms that consumers may download and/or print are available at http://www.dot.gov/airconsumer/problems.htm
Issued on 10/29/01 by the Office of the Assistant General Counsel for
Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings and its Aviation Consumer Protection