Saturday, June 30, 2018

Disney Cruise With Special Needs: Airport Security and Customs

If you are flying and/or going through customs for your Disney cruise (which I would venture, most of you are), I hope you will find these helpful.  You will also want to refer back to this post, as I won't be repeating too much of what I've already shared. 

I called TSA Cares a week before our flight.  They took down a ton of information and assured me that we would have an escort through security.  She also gave me some phrases to say so that they would know exactly what we did and didn't want.  That was wonderful...except that our info wasn't shared with the airport, so they had no record of us coming.  Ugh.  They scrambled and found two TSA agents to help us (one for us and one for my sister's family, since most of their kids also have some medical issues).  These people were very helpful and kind.  I would suggest calling the airport itself the day before your flight to confirm that they have you down as a TSA Cares customer!  It worked out for us, but it would have been easier they had known.

You need to make sure you are very clear about what you DO NOT want to go through xray. For us, it was Abby's medicines and her Pediasure.  However, declaring that you don't want it to go through xray means you are agreeing to be patted down by a TSA agent.  It is a must if you refer the xray for any of your belongings.  This has always been done very respectfully and we have had no issues.

Abby had never had to be patted down before, until we got to Vancouver port security.  It wasn't really as much for her as it was for the wheelchair, but it was still a new experience. 

Ask TSA agents to change gloves before touching any of your medical equipment.  Gloves are for their safety, not yours.  Who knows how long they have been wearing them that day!  (We also requested this of Disney security whenever we came back on the ship from port).

The TSA agent testing Abby's stuff swabbed every single can of Pediasure and opened every medicine.  She didn't do a dip stick like I'd been warned of (and was ready to refuse).  Instead, she waved a swab in the air over the top of the bottle to test the fumes.  The only issue was that she had to open every bottle--including those that were sealed shut (We had to bring 4 bottles of a particular med in order to have enough, so one was open and the rest was sealed.)  I didn't really see why the sealed ones had to be opened, but when you are at the mercy of TSA agents, it's not the time to argue. 

All of the electronics had to be removed from the bags in DC, including the ventilator and the cough assist.  However, in Vancouver we didn't have to take anything out!  I guess that varies from airport to airport.

Security from DC took about half an hour and was as painless as it could be, given how much medical baggage we had!  On the way home, Vancouver security was a lot quicker.  The biggest issue they gave us was for the bottles of water we had in our bags, which is kind of funny considering how much other stuff we had that could have been questioned!  Getting through Vancouver only took 20 minutes, which is pretty awesome!

Customs to and from Canada was VERY easy and quick.  There is a separate (wide) line for wheelchairs and you are pretty much brought to the front of the line.  We got some comments from people in the regular line and one woman in particular was quite vocal about how unfair it was.  The customs officer just said, "Some people have no compassion!" and took us next in line.  They really didn't question us at all and it was super easy.

Next up:  Flying with someone with special needs!

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