Traveling with Children, and Support  for Travelers with Disabilities

(Part 2 of 4)

The 411 on the TSA 3-1-1:  Traveling with Children, and Support  for Travelers with Disabilities

This is the second part of my Blog series entitled “The 411 on the TSA      3-1-1.”  In Part 1 of this Blog article, I shared tips on the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule, including exemptions such as medical liquids, breast milk / infant formula, and juice.

Traveling with children can be a joy as you share world experiences and connect with family members to create wonderful memories.  It can also pose additional challenges, and being informed can help make the process go much smoother.

If this is your child’s first flight, explaining the screening process ahead of time is helpful to make the experience as seamless as possible.  As a rule, families are screened together; depending on the airport, there may be a dedicated line for family screening.

Children younger than age 12 are not required to remove their shoes during the screening process.  Also, children are usually allowed to walk through the metal detectors – rather than through the imaging machines – and may be allowed several attempts before additional screening (i.e. the pat-down).

Infants must be removed from carrier seats prior to going through the X-ray conveyor belt (sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised!).

The TSA has a helpful animated video for children to prepare them for the screening process.

For additional allowances in the 3-1-1 liquid policy for children needing juice, or infants needing breast milk or formula, please refer to Part 1 of this Blog article.

For traveling with children with disabilities, keep reading the next section on traveling with disabilities and medical conditions.

The TSA has additional information on Traveling with Children.

Traveling with Disabilities, Medications, and Medical Conditions

The TSA has allowances for travelers with disabilities, and other medical conditions.  They range from special screening lines to a dedicated Passenger Support Specialist that can assist with the security screening process.

Travel Tip #9:  The TSA offers a Passenger Support Specialist for travelers with disabilities or medical conditions requiring additional assistance through the security checkpoint.

Please note: for wheelchair assistance before and after the TSA security checkpoint, passengers should request this assistance directly from the airline.

Passengers may have disabilities that may not be visible.  Disabilities and needs may be discreetly shared with the TSA screeners with the Disability Notification Card for Air Travel, and accommodations made.

Accommodations may include a separate security screening area accompanied by a travel companion.  This can reduce the stress of going through the usual screening line.  If a pat-down is required, the travel companion can be in attendance, and detailed explanation should be given.

Travelers age 75 and over (based on visualization of the TSA Officer) are not required to remove shoes or light jackets when going through security checkpoints.  They may also be allowed an extra pass through the imaging machine before additional screening measures (i.e. the pat down).  Travelers that are unable to walk through the imaging machine and hold the screening position for five seconds will go through alternative screening measures.

Travel Tip #10 Remember to pack all medications in your carry-on baggage.

This is true whether you need the medication during the flight or not.  While some airlines are doing well with checked luggage, there is always a chance your luggage can get lost.  If a medication would be difficult to replace (such as a prescription medication), make sure to keep it with you!

Medical liquids are exempt from the 3-1-1 liquids rule (see Part 1 of this Blog Post: The 411 on the TSA 3-1-1) and can be carried on board.

Medications do not need to be in their original packaging, but should be well-labeled.  The TSA notes that “states have individual laws regarding the labeling of prescription medication with which passengers need to comply.”  I have traveled around the world with medications packed according to Tip #11.

Travel Tip #11 Place each medication in a separate Snack Size zip top baggie for easy transport.  If it is a prescription medication, try to peel off your original medication label from the prescription bottle and stick it onto the Snack size baggie.  For over the counter medications, write the 1) name of the medication and 2) the expiration date off the bottle.

I will have additional tips on what medications to pack in your “travel pharmacy” in a future Blog post.

Travel Tip #12:  Medical equipment allowances (such as for CPAP machines) are in addition to the 1 carry on item and 1 personal item allowed on board by the TSA.

Important medications or medical equipment (such as CPAP machines) should always go with you in your carry-on.

Travel Tip #13:  If it cannot be easily replaced at your destination, try not to place it in your checked luggage.  Items fitting this description include passports, jewelry, valuable small electronics (laptops, tablets, camera equipment), and travel documents.

If you have any concerns regarding the screening process, the TSA has a TSA Cares Help Line:

  • 1-855-787-2227 (Toll Free, Weekdays 8 AM – 11 PM EST; Weekends and Holidays 9 AM – 8 PM EST).
  • Travelers are encouraged to call 72 hours ahead of travel for information.
  • Remember the TSA Passenger Support Specialist can also be requested when contact the TSA.

What has been your experience going through TSA security screening?  Do you have any thoughts or tips you would like to share?  Please leave a comment below to share!


  •  In Part 1 of this Blog article, I shared tips on the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule, including exemptions such as medical liquids, breast milk / infant formula, and juice.
  • In Part 3 of this Blog article, I will share tips for military and Wounded Warrior travel.
  • In Part 4 of this Blog article, I will wrap up with Trusted Traveler Programs including TSA Pre✓® and Global Entry.
All information is up to date as of the date of publishing of this article, December 2014.
The information, including but not limited to, text, images, graphics, links, and other materials contained on this website are for informational and educational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote safer and happier travel by assisting travelers with helpful information.  It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical condition, new medications – including over the counter medications – and safety for you to travel.  Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional medical care because of information you have read on this website.

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