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Travellers with special needs

To ensure the security of travellers it is important that all passengers and carry-on bags on a screened service are screened prior to boarding. The Government recognises that some passengers may have special needs when travelling through Australian airports. Training provided to security screening officers is designed to ensure everyone is treated fairly and with respect when going through security screening at the airport.

This section provides information to help passengers with special needs get through security checks as easily and as smoothly as possible.

Travelling with a medical condition or disability

We recognise that travellers with a disability or medical condition may have specific needs. Following these simple steps below will help you get through security checks quickly.

Packing your carry-on bags

  • Prescription medicines, non-prescription medicines and mobility aids, such as walking sticks and crutches, can be taken on board.
  • Hypodermic needles can also be packed in your carry-on bags but you must have proof that they are medically necessary.

Going through security checks

  • Present any hypodermic needles and supporting documentation to security screening officers at the screening point.
  • Walking aids and wheelchairs must be screened before boarding the plane. These aids may need to undergo an X-ray or explosive trace detection test. Screening points have chairs and walking aids available for you to use during this process.
  • Wheelchair users will be screened by a frisk search if they cannot be screened and cleared through the metal detection equipment. A frisk search can be conducted in private.
  • Inform the security screening officer if you have any medical conditions, such as a pacemaker, that might be affected by security screening. If you have a pacemaker, you cannot be screened with metal detection equipment and you will be screened with a frisk search.
  • Inform the security screening officer if you have an implanted metal device, or any other device that may trigger an alarm. If you have a metal implant that alarms the walk-through metal detector, you will be screened with a hand-held metal detector to locate the device and a frisk search. If a frisk search is required, you can request that the search takes place in private.

Travellers with specific cultural or religious requirements

Everyone on a screened service, regardless of their religious or cultural background, has to be screened at the screening points before they can board the plane. The Australian Government understands that some cultures incorporate elements of clothing into their religious observance. In respecting these requirements, screening authorities are required to provide the option for individuals to be screened in a private room, if requested.

Packing your carry-on bags

  • Check with your airline before you travel to find out what items you cannot take on board. Some religious items could be considered a prohibited item or weapon under Australian law.
  • If you are carrying a prohibited item or weapon in your carry-on baggage or on your person at the security screening point, you will have to make other arrangements, like leaving the item with a family member or friend. Security screening staff may be able to make arrangements for you to pack this item in your checked baggage, however this may not always be possible. Where it is not possible, you will have to surrender the item to pass through the security screening point. It is best to pack these items in your checked baggage, if permitted.

Travellers who are hearing- or vision-impaired

The Government recognises that travellers who are hearing or vision-impaired may have specific needs and requirements when flying throughout Australia. Security screening officers may use hand signals to gain the attention of a passenger who is hearing-impaired. Screening officers are trained to talk to the hearing-impaired passenger, and not to their escort. It is important for the hearing-impaired passenger to understand what they need to do to assist with the security screening process.

Going through security checks

  • Passengers who are vision-impaired may prefer to undergo a physical search rather than go through the metal detection equipment. The passenger can request that they stand or sit for the physical search, and have the option for the screening to take place in private, if they wish.
  • Where it is necessary for security screening officers to search the belongings of a person who is vision-impaired, they are trained to replace the items in their original locations so they can easily be found again.
  • Hearing aids are considered to be part of the person who is wearing them, and as such, the wearer will not be asked to remove their hearing aid prior to being screened.

Travelling with children

Travelling with children, especially young children, puts special demands on the adults responsible for their well being. Following the simple steps below will help make your journey as safe and comfortable as possible.

Packing your bags

There are currently no restrictions on the amount of liquids, aerosols and gels you can take onboard a domestic flight. This includes baby products, such as medicines, milk or food for your child, that may be needed during the course of your flight. However, if you are connecting to an international flight, or if your domestic flight departs from an international terminal, the amount of liquids, aerosols and gels you can take on board will be limited. You are advised to take this into account when packing your bags.

If you are travelling on a screened service, pushchairs and prams must be screened before you can board the plane with them. However, many airlines do not allow these items in the cabin due to space and stowage constraints. Check with your airline for more information.

Going through security checks

Babies and toddlers must be carried through the passenger screening checks by a responsible adult. If your child is able to walk by themselves, they should walk through the screening point on their own.

For additional information on ensuring you and your children have a safe trip, please refer to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority website.

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Last Updated: 23 July, 2014