Traveling doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Here’s what you can expect if you or someone you know is visually impaired and traveling with a guide dog.
Education and preparation are key to help you and your guide dog gain confidence and a better understanding of what to expect during screening. There are services and programs such as The Guide Dog Foundation, Inc., that coordinate with airports and TSA to provide demonstrations and practices for you and your guide dog. These live demonstrations provide guidance to you, your guide dog, and TSA officers as well.
TSA can also provide assistance to help you through airport security. Contact TSA Cares 72 hours before your scheduled flight. A passenger support specialist or a supervisory transportation security officer will arrange to meet you curbside and will help guide you through security.
When packing for your trip, be sure to place your travel-sized liquids in a quart-sized bag and any electronic devices larger than a cell phone, in an easily accessible area as they will need to be removed from your bag for screening. Liquids over 3.4 ounces are not allowed through security, however, the rule does not apply if you are traveling with liquid medications. TSA allows larger amounts of medically necessary liquids, gels, and aerosols in reasonable quantities for your trip, but you must declare them to TSA officers at the checkpoint for inspection.
When in doubt, consider checking your bag. The fewer items you have to go through security screening with the easier it may be for you and your guide dog to go through security. On the plus side, by checking in your bag you won’t have to worry about any items accidentally being left behind at the checkpoint.
Prepare for screening
Being prepared promotes success and helps the screening process go smoothly. First, at no point doing the screening process will you be separated from your guide dog.
Unless you have TSA Pre✓®, you will be asked to remove your jacket, belt, and shoes for screening. If you are unable to remove these items, you will require additional screening.
Apply now to get TSA Pre✓® on your next trip.
Although you don’t have to remove your dog’s harness and leash, be prepared for your guide dog to receive additional screening if you decide to leave these items on.
Additional screening may include being screened for explosives trace detection, a walk-through metal detector, and/or a pat-down. If by chance you or your dog sets off an alarm during screening, then you will get a pat-down conducted by an officer of the same gender as you present yourself. Before the start of a pat-down, the officer will walk you through the process, which includes an officer using their hands to conduct a physical inspection of you and your dog. Reminder, communication is key!
- An officer will first ask for your permission before touching your guide dog.
- At no point of the screening process will you be asked to be separated from your guide dog or be asked to remove your guide dog’s harness or vest.
- Don’t hesitate to ask the officer to use a new pair of gloves.
- Do remember that you can always request to speak with a supervisor or request a private screening accompanied by a companion of your choice.
Need more information? We have a team ready to answer your questions @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on ET on weekends. You may also email the TSA Contact Center or call (866) 289-9673. Representatives are available 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET weekdays, 8 a.m. to 10 pm. ET, weekends are 9 to 7p.m. ET.
TSA would like to personally thank The Guide Dog Foundation, Inc. for their assistance in producing this blog post and video. The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind is a is a 501(c)(3) charity that trains and places service dogs with people who are blind, have low vision, or have other disabilities.