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What to expect from an airport security check

Security searches are carried out on all passengers and baggage before they are allowed to board an aircraft. Disabled people and mobility equipment such as wheelchairs are not exempt from these searches.

Undergoing a security search

There are a number of things security staff should be made aware of to ensure the search is undertaken in the same way as for other passengers, taking into consideration your disability and/or medical needs.

It's important to let security staff know about any disability or medical condition you have that may affect the way in which the search is undertaken. This is especially important for any hidden disabilities such as diabetes or learning difficulties.

Let staff know if you are finding any part of the process uncomfortable - for example, if you experience pain when raising your arms.

Security staff should:

  • ensure each stage of the process is explained in clear and simple words
  • offer the option of a private area to perform the search, if required
  • listen and take your needs into consideration and act upon them as best they can
  • offer help at any stage of the search if you need it

There will be certain things that the security staff should be aware of when searching people with specific impairments. For example, if you are physically disabled, you should be helped to lift baggage onto and off the X-ray machine.

If you are blind or visually impaired, ask for a witness to be present if your bag is searched. Also, your bag should be re-packed exactly as security staff found it.


Security staff should handle any medication discreetly and re-pack it carefully.

If you are travelling with any medication or medical supplies - especially syringes and large amounts of medication - you need a letter from your doctor explaining what it is and why you need it.

Please note that without a letter from your doctor or hospital, you are likely to be refused permission to board the aircraft if you are carrying syringes or hypodermic needles in your hand luggage.

You should also tell the airline in advance if you will be carrying syringes either in your hand luggage or checked-in bags.

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