Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Air Travel with a Child with Disabilities

12/06/2016 | Published by: Becky Tarwater

We recently flew to St. Louis for a surgical procedure. The thought of putting my son on an airplane was intimidating; I don’t even like to fly because of how much of a hassle it is. 

The surgery went fine, but I’d almost say that the more stressful part was just getting there. It’s already a difficult process to fly with a child, but flying with a child with a disability is even trickier. 

Here are some tips and tricks to help make your flying experience a little bit easier. 

  • Every airline typically has a representatives responsible for accommodations for individuals with disabilities. When you book your tickets, get in contact with that person and let them know you’ll be traveling with a child with disabilities. 
  • Typically, children under the age of 2 do not need their own tickets or seats. If your child is above the age of 2, you’re going to have to purchase a seat for them—one in which  they will have to sit for both takeoff and landing. This can create some challenges depending on your child’s level of ability to sit independently.  
  • Airlines do allow you to bring approved child seats on board to strap into the airline seat. You’ll strap it in using the airline seatbelt. If you know your child has difficulty sitting up in their own seat (like mine does) then a car seat is an absolute must. 
  • TSA can help you make arrangements to get through security with your child, but you should call them 72 hours in advance to coordinate those arrangements. The disability does not have to be physical to get these accommodations.
  • The airline will let you bring formula, breastmilk, and medication on board. Make sure that it’s properly labeled. Bring your medicines with you in their original container with clear prescription information. 
  • Get to the airport early! TSA screening will take you at least 1.5 times longer than what you think it will, so get to the airport as early as possible. Some airports have accessible areas that cater to people with disabilities or sensory issues. This can cut the wait time considerably.
  • When you get through security, go immediately to the gate and let the gate attendant know that you’re traveling with a child with disabilities. Your ticket should have a designation on it indicating that you’ll need some special accommodations. That in turn gets inputted into the overall system, so the gate agent should already have a record of you. Let them know you’re there so you can get a little extra time boarding. 
  • If you are traveling with a wheelchair or adaptive stroller, you are allowed to bring that through the gate and into the boarding area. You will likely have to check it at the gate and then pick it up when you get off. Make sure to specify to the ticketing desk that you’re using a wheelchair and you shouldn’t have any issues. 
  • Think about the arrangements you’re going to need when you arrive at your destination. Will you need an accessible vehicle? Will you need an accessible hotel room? Work on all that well ahead of time to make sure that all arrangements are made. Don’t leave anything to chance!

Traveling with your child can be a fun experience, but it definitely requires a little bit of preparation. Make sure to think through all possible scenarios and you should be able to put yourself in position to have a fantastic trip. 

Use this Search to find several articles on traveling with your child. 


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