Leaving on a Jet Plane

In less than 48 hours I will be boarding an international flight to Reykjavik. Getting through security is a pain when you are whole and healthy. This will be my first experience as someone with a (mild) visual impairment and a LOT of STUFF.

Planning and preparation, as usual, appear to be necessary. I have been thinking about the monocular, glare glasses and prescription glasses hanging around my neck, not to mention the reader, telescopic TV glasses and iPad mini I will have stuck in my pockets and I am thinking I should probably shove them all in a plastic bag before I get there. Grabbing one bag will be easier than recovering half a dozen things from the tub.

AFB AccessWorld published a 2012 article on air travel. While some things are probably now different, much of the information is still relevant. For example, there are TSA regulations about the screening of the visually impaired. However, no matter what it may say in the regulations, reality can be very different.  NFB suggests not getting in an argument with the TSA agents. At the time they have the power and can make you miss your flight. File a complaint later from home, safe and sound.

If you are significantly handicapped and cannot find your way to and/or through the metal detector, you have the right to request assistance. If you are fearful the x-ray machine will harm your electronic, access equipment, you may request a hand search. It is also your right to ask the agent to collect all of your stuff and/ or to double-check for you.

If you use a cane, your cane will set off the metal detector. Be prepared to have it inspected separately.

If you use a dog, your dog will also have to be inspected. Be sure to have documentation attesting to the facts that he is a service animal. AFB stresses you should not be separated from your animal. AFB also stressed your dog’s harness will not be removed in the process of further ‘wanding’  and a pat down. The officer should ask your permission before he touches your dog.

If your dog requires a potty stop before boarding the plane, you may have to be screened again. However, I have been in many airports with doors opening onto the tarmac.  Finding a kind airport employee with a pooper scooper may save you from all of that. It is worth a try. Most people are kind and many are dog lovers.

AFB put two resources at the end of the article. TSA Cares is 855-787-2227. My TSA App is also available.

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