Sometimes you may need to travel by air with a child with a disability. How does this work? What about going through the airport security?
Usually, you will be able to use the wheelchair until you get to your boarding gate.
But before you can get to your gate, you must go through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport security. Everyone has to go through this security. This means your child and their wheelchair will be screened. The child can stand or be carried through the metal detector and the wheelchair screened separately. Check the TSA webpage on children and passenger support for the latest rules.
Once you get to your boarding gate, you have some options.
If your child can walk for a short distance, you can get seats up front near the door and board before other passengers. You also have the option of lifting and carrying your child to the airplane seat, or the airlines will provide a transfer wheelchair to and from the airplane seat. Either way, the airline should have your child’s chair waiting at the plane’s doorway when you arrive at your final destination. Just remember to check with the specific airline you are flying.
Wheelchairs make traveling a little more time consuming and require a bit more planning, but this should not stop a family from traveling.
Just make sure you contact your airline well in advance of your trip. Know their travel rules and make any special arrangements needed for your child. Consider arriving at the airport an additional hour earlier than you would otherwise.
Have happy and safe travels!
For additional parenting tips, go to Navigating Daily Life – Parenting Children with Disabilities.
Before I had my son, I was a special education teacher. I was one of those teachers who believed that these "special" kids needed to be kept safe. After teaching in a self-contained special education class, my views slowly started to change.