Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Tips for Air Travelers with Vision Impairments

Here are some helpful pointers that can reduce stress and make planning and the airplane travel experience go smoothly:
– Before leaving, passengers may want to make arrangements with the individual airline to receive assistance at the airport and when landing, though some prefer to handle this on their own.
– When going through security, passengers may ask the Security Officer to explain the process and provide step-by-step instructions. The officer can also help to collect carry-on and assistive items.
TSA (Transit Security Administration) regulations allows white cane users to keep the cane while going through the metal detector. The officer can do a physical inspection and, if deemed necessary, x-ray the cane.
– While on the plane, the white cane can be used, although “options for safe placement in the airplane cabin are limited.” Canes may be stored under the seat in front of the passenger or on the floor next to the wall of the plane (near the windows).

For more information and guidance about airport security policies, read the AFB (American Foundation for the Blind) webpage covering the time Before You Fly: The Transportation Security Administration and People with Visual Impairments as well as the TSA webpage on Disabilities and Medical Conditions. The  APH (American Printing House for the Blind) Connect Center website also includes tips and information on regulations related to Air Travel.

Airline Services to Passengers with Disabilities
Individual airline websites generally include specific information on services for “passengers with disabilities.” A few examples of webpages that specifically outline offerings for individuals who are blind or have low vision are:
Alaska Airlines: “Accessible travel services: Vision assistance;”
American Airlines: “Special assistance,”  scroll to “Vision assistance;”
Delta Airlines: “Blind, Low Vision, Deaf or Hard of Hearing Travelers;”
Southwest Airlines: “Customers who are blind or have low vision;” and
Spirit Airlines: Blind or Low Vision.
In addition, as announced in a previous issue of this Bulletin, United Airlines recently became the first U.S. airline to offer braille markings within its aircraft interiors. Many airlines already offer safety information cards written in braille, as reported in an article in The Washington Post announcing the news about braille markings on aircraft interiors.