Can I bring my talking watch through airport security?

Reading Ben Trockman’s post last week about what it’s like to get through the airport in a wheelchair got me wondering. If you have a disability, and you’re traveling by plane, then how do you know what assistive devices you’re allowed to bring through security?

Turns out the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) offers a “Can I bring my … through the security checkpoint?” feature where you can type in names of items to learn what you can and can’t take through security when you fly. The results let you know if the item can be carried-on, put in checked baggage, or if it’s not allowed for plane travel at all.

I am blind and travel with my Seeing Eye dog Whitney, so I might type in stuff like “metal dog food bowl,” and “Braille slate and stylus” to see if I can carry them through the checkpoint or whether I have to check them in a bag. For now, let’s try “folded white cane.”

Okay, here’s what came up :

Some mobility aids may require specialized screening. To expedite your travel, notify the Transportation Security Officer of your need for special assistance at the beginning of the checkpoint screening process. At any time during the screening process, you may ask for a private screening area.

The response went on to say that even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening. In the end it might not be allowed through the checkpoint anyway if it “triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns.” The site said the final decision on whether to allow any items on the plane rests with TSA and suggests you notify the security officer of your medical condition or need for special assistance at the beginning of the checkpoint process.

The TSA Contact Center (TCC) recently extended its hours, and representatives are now available Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Eastern time, and weekends and federal holidays, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The TSA encourages passengers to contact them with any questions ahead of time, and seems to me that’s the way to go. The TCC hotline is 1-866-289-9673, and in addition to asking questions about your upcoming travel there, you can also ask them about TSA procedures, provide feedback or voice your concerns there.


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