This week, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will begin implementing new screening guidelines for the elderly.
Starting March 19, air travelers who are at least 75 years old won't have to take off their shoes or light jackets as they go through security in certain airports. Additionally, seniors who set off a scanner will be allowed to go through again with the hopes of preventing an unnecessary pat-down.
The TSA states that they feel this initiative is a more risk-based approach to screening (seniors are not considered to be likely threats to national security) and will enable security lines to go faster and more smoothly not only for seniors, but for everyone.
Not all airports will be adopting these new procedures right away, but elderly passengers traveling in and out of Chicago O'Hare, Orlando, Denver, or Portland, may be able to take advantage of the new screening guidelines. If the regulations work well for the elderly in security lines at these four airports, the TSA plans to expand the program.
Flying with an elderly loved one is never easy—particularly when they have medical equipment that is not exactly security scanner-friendly.
Just last year, on two separate occasions, women in their eighties were allegedly asked to remove their medical devices, a back brace and a colostomy bag respectively, so they could be properly screened. TSA officials refute parts of these claims, but do admit that the employees involved in the incidences did not follow the proper protocol for screening medical equipment.
Under the new rules, people in wheelchairs or with medical devices will be allowed the re-scan, but traditional procedures for examining medical equipment will remain in place.
The TSA also cautions that seniors may still be required to take off their shoes, or submit to a pat-down if the scanners detect a problem. TSA guidelines require that, "All alarms must be resolved."
Caregivers traveling with a senior over 75 will have to kick off their shoes and go through the normal security screening process.