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Arm in a sling - what to expect with TSA and/or GA

Arm in a sling - what to expect with TSA and/or GA

Old Aug 10, 12, 7:27 am
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Arm in a sling - what to expect with TSA and/or GA

My son cracked his collarbone and his arm is in a sling contraption with a pillow spacer attached to support his arm. He can remove the sling for a few minutes but cannot raise his arm very high. I don't think he can go through a full-body scanner at Security.

We are flying out of LAX this weekend and am not sure how to proceed through Security. Does he make a request for a different inspection at the point we are putting our things on the conveyor? or earlier, like when his travel documents are inspected? Should he expect to remove the sling? We will be using the elite line, or whichever line is shorter.

Should I anticipate any issues with UA GA? I would think not. We are seated in First, and do not have emergency exit row seating.
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Old Aug 10, 12, 7:45 am
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This thread will probably be moved to the Travel Safety/Security forum. That said, TSA policy -- which is about as easy to nail down as Jell-o to a wall -- is to direct travelers to the metal detector if they are ineligible for the scanner. However, do not be surprised if a TS"O" insists on performing a pat-down. If so, and you have the time, you should escalate on the spot. Don't be afraid to politely but firmly push back.

Last edited by MrColdShower; Aug 10, 12 at 7:45 am Reason: spelling
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Old Aug 10, 12, 7:48 am
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How old is your son? If he's 11-, he goes through the mag w. no pat down anyway.

If not, simply let the Officer know at the ID checkpoint and they will deal with the issue. Happens thousands of times/day and you should not worry. Allow yourself a few extra minutes, just in case the mag isn't in use and has to be opened and staffed for your son.

Depending on the checkpoint, there may be a line marked especially for "families & medical."
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Old Aug 10, 12, 8:09 am
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He's 20 so not a little kid. And we don't have a dr note - did not even think to get one even though we talked with the dr about air travel. Hence my late-night panicking.
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Old Aug 10, 12, 8:26 am
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A doctors note doesn't mean anything.
They deal with this stuff thousands of time a day, so relax and just get out there a little early as others have said.
I have a card from my doctor indicating that I have a knee replacement. Showed it once about 7 years ago for the first flight after my surgery. Waste of time, as it didn't mean squat, so now I get the x-ray treatment & sometimes even the pat down. They reroute pace maker folks, so the same will happen to your son.
RELAX!!!
NO BIG DEAL!!!
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Old Aug 10, 12, 9:28 am
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Last year I made a number of trips wearing a shoulder immobilizer. TSA was not an issue; I went through the scanner with my right arm raised and then the agent wanded my left. No pat down or hassle. In flight, when upgraded, FA's were quite solicitious, even offering extra blankets to prop my arm. In the back nobody noticed.

Based on my experience: no worries.
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Old Aug 10, 12, 9:35 am
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I was in a sling/space for shoulder surgery for a while last year...and I had to fly a decent amount.

I never had any trouble at all with TSA or the airlines. The TSA was more than willing to accomodate me being unable to raise my arm (I could take the sling/spacer off) -- they just sent me through the WTMD and were very nice about it (helping me lift/move things even though I didn't need the help).

The airlines always let me board early (with first class) so I could get settled without the risk of other passengers bumping me.

All in all -- good experience.
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Old Aug 10, 12, 10:16 am
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Originally Posted by JayRo View Post
Last year I made a number of trips wearing a shoulder immobilizer. TSA was not an issue; I went through the scanner with my right arm raised and then the agent wanded my left. No pat down or hassle. In flight, when upgraded, FA's were quite solicitious, even offering extra blankets to prop my arm. In the back nobody noticed.

Based on my experience: no worries.
Where did you get wanded? IIRC, our former resident TSOs said the wands went away in late 2010 with the introduction of the NoS machines. Wands were replaced with the 'hands-on' gropes.

I'm an 'involuntary medical opt-out' - I can't assume and hold the position in the NoS and I always get a grope, and in the recent months, the grope is followed by an ETD test.

Last edited by chollie; Aug 10, 12 at 3:14 pm Reason: correct spelling error
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Old Aug 10, 12, 12:14 pm
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Unless it is something that absolutely will need some kind of accommodation, I wouldn't present a doctor's note or look for any special exceptions. It's the people who appear to be vulnerable who are most susceptible to bullying. If he can, just allot plenty of time and behave as is usual for him at the checkpoint.
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Old Aug 10, 12, 12:45 pm
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Originally Posted by JayRo View Post
Last year I made a number of trips wearing a shoulder immobilizer. TSA was not an issue; I went through the scanner with my right arm raised and then the agent wanded my left. No pat down or hassle. In flight, when upgraded, FA's were quite solicitious, even offering extra blankets to prop my arm. In the back nobody noticed.

Based on my experience: no worries.
I'm now 4 for 4 in getting the WTMD when I tell the agent "I have a rotator-cuff injury and can't raise my hand above my head".

Try it.
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Old Aug 10, 12, 1:56 pm
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Originally Posted by TheGolfWidow View Post
Unless it is something that absolutely will need some kind of accommodation, I wouldn't present a doctor's note or look for any special exceptions. It's the people who appear to be vulnerable who are most susceptible to bullying. If he can, just allot plenty of time and behave as is usual for him at the checkpoint.
This is incorrect.

If directed to the AIT/NOS machine, your son should state "I am unable to raise my arm over my head."

He will then be sent through the WTMD. They may check his sling but he will not be asked to remove it.

If any of the above happens differently, ask for a supervisor.

Follow this advice, and your experience will be a piece of cake.
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Old Aug 10, 12, 2:40 pm
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I second those saying it's a piece of cake.

I broke my collarbone late last year and just went through the WTMD, never the NOS. Occasionally, a TSO would delicately check and swab my sling. That was it.

Then tell your son to use the "unable to assume the position" excuse well into his rehab to avoid the NOS in the near future.
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Old Aug 10, 12, 3:18 pm
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do not remove the sling.

most likely if he does not set off the metal detector most likely they will just perform some kind of less invasive screening.
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Old Aug 10, 12, 3:22 pm
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Originally Posted by chollie View Post

I'm an 'involuntary medical opt-out' - I can't assume and hold the position in the NoS and I always get a grope, and in the recent months, the grope is followed by an ETD test.
shame

Last edited by FatherAbraham; Oct 26, 12 at 4:16 pm
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Old Aug 10, 12, 4:52 pm
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Although people here are correctly describing what should happen, and indeed what does happen thousands of times each day, it is important to be aware that there have been many reports where the proper procedures haven't been followed. It's always good to be prepared.
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