TSA launches toll-free help line for travelers with medical needs

By Jim Barnett, CNNPublished 22nd December 2011
Traveling on planes is stressful enough for passengers over the holiday, but even more so if someone has a disability or medical need. Now the Transportation Security Administration, which has endured widespread criticism for intrusive pat-downs, is launching a toll-free help line to get travelers through security checkpoints.
The agency announced Thursday the start of TSA Cares, designed to assist travelers in need before they get to the airport. The idea is to answer questions about screening procedures and what the travelers should expect.
When a passenger with a disability or medical condition calls TSA Cares, the agency said, "a representative will provide assistance either with information about screening that is relevant to the passenger's specific disability or medical condition, or the passenger may be referred to disability experts at the TSA."
The agency recommends passengers call 72 hours ahead of travel so customer service managers can coordinate checkpoint support.
Every person and item must still be screened before entering secure boarding areas, but "the manner in which the screening is conducted will depend on the passenger's abilities and any specific equipment brought to the security checkpoint," according to the Transportation Security Administration.
The TSA Cares toll free number is (855) 787-2227. It is active from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.