Airports can be complex, busy, confusing places at the best of times. For passengers who have a hidden medical condition, the prospect of going through security can be particularly concerning. By following a few simple “top tips” it doesn’t need to be a stressful experience.
All airports are required to screen passengers entering the departure lounges to be certain that nothing dangerous can be carried on to an aircraft. There are no exemptions to this rule, meaning everybody has to be screened.
There are things that you can do to make your journey through security as simple and stress-free as possible so here are a few pointers.
Arrive In Plenty Of Time
- If you are rushed, it is easy to forget and leave things such as liquids in your hand luggage which will mean it is selected for search.
- Make sure you know which terminal you are flying from. Planning ahead can save you considerable time and effort.
- Check the website of the airport you are flying from. There is a wealth of information on there, and lots of additional help and advice. Information regarding facilities and help available at Gatwick can be found here: https://www.gatwickairport.com/at-the-airport/passenger-services/special-assistance/
- Have your boarding card ready as you arrive at security. You don’t need your passport at this point.
Family And Assistance
- Some airports offer a “Family and Assistance” lane and some have a Premium security lane. Both these options are available to you, although there may be a charge for Premium. Of course, you can go through the main security area as well. It is your choice which route to take, but the officers on the Family and Assistance lane will be expecting to see passengers who have mobility issues, hidden disabilities and non-visible medical conditions.
- Most airports offer a Hidden Disability Lanyard which acts as a discreet signifier to staff that the person wearing it or somebody in their party has a hidden condition and may need a little more help or time. These are available from the Special Assistance desks and some airports can also post them out to you (see the website for more information). The staff will know that the person wearing the lanyard has a hidden condition, but not what that condition is and so you can choose to share as much or little information as you want to. They are of course entirely optional, but do give some people a bit more confidence.
- Make sure you have removed all liquids, gels, pastes and creams from your hand luggage and placed them in a clear 20cm by 20cm plastic bag. Liquids must be no larger than 100ml, and they must fit inside the bag which must be sealed. There is a limit of one bag per person. Remember, this applies to all liquids and will include things such as make up, toothpaste, perfume and foodstuffs.
- If you have prescription medication that you need on the flight, you can take it even if it is larger than 100ml, provided it has the prescription label on it or GP headed medical authorisation paperwork. It will be subject to non-invasive testing by the security team.
- Take your laptop, kindle or other large electrical devices out of your bag. They need to be screened separately (they can go in the same tray as your bag though).
- Remove your coat or jacket and put them in the tray along with your other belongings.
- If you are picked for a search, you can ask the officer to have the search undertaken in private. You will be able to take a witness with you, and the officer will do likewise. You will be able to go to a separate room, where the search can be undertaken discreetly. If you are in any pain, inform the officer prior to the search.
Travelling by air should not be a stressful experience provided you plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time. If you have any issues on the day, just speak to a member of staff who will be happy to help you.