The men and women serving in our military should be recognized with honor and respect (as well as their family members)– and they are deserving of exceptional favor.
In appreciation of these distinguished soldiers, airport security has become more accommodating. When a soldier is being deployed, it is a difficult transition for them and their family. In light of this, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows family members to accompany military soldiers (that are being deployed) to the boarding gate. As a family member, you can also go to the arrival gate to greet service members when returning home from deployment. You will need to request a pass in advance so you can enter the secured area of the airport. Be sure to follow security guidelines to avoid any problems, since you will be screened when going through security. Contact the airlines at the departure/arrival airport to find out what their procedures entail.
Screening of Military Personnel at Security Checkpoints:
TSA Pre√® Expedited Screening Program:
Members of the Armed Forces, Coast Guard, Reserves, and the National Guard are automatically included in the TSA Pre√® expedited screening program. When making flight arrangements, be sure to use your Department of Defense Identification Number for the “Known Traveler Number”. This information will print up on your boarding pass, thus allowing you to go through expedited screening (even when flying for personal pleasure) at airports offering TSA Pre√® lines. This will decrease your wait time and allow you to keep your shoes, belt, hat, and light jacket on as well as keep your laptop and 3-1-1 liquids in your carry-on bags. Family members ages 12 and under are also eligible for the expedited screening.
Suggestions for making Security Screening Easier:
- Keep your boarding pass and ID available.
- Remove your Class A uniform jacket and metal items in pockets and submit them for X-ray screening.
- Military personnel in uniform with a valid military ID are not required to remove their footwear, unless it alarms the walk through metal detector.
- Ensure your carry-on luggage does not contain any prohibited items.
- Take all valuables and electronics in your carry-on luggage.
- Tools greater than 7” and sharp objects are not permitted in carry-on bags. Hammers, drills, saws, and crowbars are prohibited, regardless of their length. Pointed scissors (with a blade greater than 4”) are also prohibited.
- Military personnel and their family members may be exempt from paying baggage fees on some airlines, so be sure to check when booking your ticket.
- You may be ineligible to check in at a kiosk if you are traveling with a military fare.
- When packing, keep your heavier equipment/personal items at the top of your checked baggage (i.e. helmets, boots, books, etc.). Place your clothing and smaller items in the bottom of the bag. This will help TSA screeners re-pack your bag neatly if a physical search is required.
- Firearms, ammunition, and firearm parts may be transported in checked baggage and are not allowed in your carry-on bag. If you just returned from overseas duty or any assignment where you carried a gun or ammunition, be sure to check your belongings, especially your carry-on bag, to make sure there are no firearms, parts, or ammunition.
- Sheath or securely wrap any sharp objects in your checked bags.
Wounded Warrior/Military Severely Injured Joint Support Operations Center Program:
Many wounded warriors are traveling to and from hospitals, military bases, or going home—or they may be a wounded veteran traveling the world. These remarkable soldiers and veterans have suffered—they may have lost limbs, are in extreme pain, blinded, and more. The last thing they need is a hassle when going through airport security. In light of this, TSA (about 25% of their employees are veterans) started the Wounded Warrior/Military Severely Injured Joint Support Operations Center Program to help severely injured veterans or service men and women through security screening at U.S. airports. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Here’s how it works:
Once flight arrangements are made, the injured service member, a family member, or other representative can contact the TSA Cares Helpline with the itinerary, or the Operations Center for information. This needs to be done at least 24 hours prior to travel.
- Operations Center (24/7): Email MSIJSOC@dhs.gov with the itinerary (or call 888-262-2396)
- Call TSA Cares at 1-855-787-2227 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern time) and weekends and holidays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Eastern time)
- E-mail TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov
- The Operations Center contacts the Security Directors at the airports to ensure that the security screenings are made easier and done respectfully for the Wounded Warriors.
Here’s What You Can Expect:
- Curb to Gate service – you can be picked up out front when you arrive at the airport and will be escorted to and through security checkpoints and taken to your gate.
- You will receive expedited service and not have to endure embarrassing screenings.
- You will not have to remove your shoes, light jacket, or hat.
For more insightful travel ideas, check out my book:
Know Before You Go: Traveling the U.S. and Abroad