Thursday, December 22, 2011

TSA Cares Helpline Starting Today

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced the launch of TSA Cares today, a new helpline number designed to assist  passengers with disabilities and medical conditions to call before they fly.  Starting today, travelers can call the toll free helpline number for TSA Cares before traveling if they have questions about screening policies, procedures or what to expect when they arrive at the airport security checkpoint. This line is available not only to passengers with disabilities and medical conditions, but also to their family members and travel companions who can speak to a knowledgeable representative from the TSA Cares helpline to answer questions about airport security prior to travel.

In most cases, the TSA Cares representative can provide information that will be specific to the passenger’s disability or medical condition. If a caller’s concerns cannot be easily addressed, the passenger may be referred to disability experts at TSA. TSA recommends that passengers call approximately 72 hours ahead of travel so that TSA Cares has the opportunity to coordinate checkpoint support with a TSA Customer Service Manager located at the airport when necessary.

Already, we have been able to assist one family with a child who has autism and other disabilities. The parents contacted the TSA Cares helpline because they were concerned that their child might have challenges with the screening process and may need additional support.  TSA Cares representatives worked with disability experts at TSA to connect them with the Customer Support Manager at their airport.  Local TSA airport staff contacted the family and arranged to have TSA personnel meet them to facilitate their checkpoint screening.

Since our inception, TSA has provided information to all travelers through its TSA Contact Center and Customer Service Managers in airports nationwide. TSA Cares will serve as an additional, dedicated resource for passengers with disabilities, medical conditions or other circumstances or their loved ones who want to prepare for the screening process prior to flying.

TSA established this new helpline because we are committed to treating each passenger the way they deserve to be treated - with dignity and respect.

TSA works regularly with a broad coalition of disability and medical condition advocacy groups to help understand their needs and adapt screening procedures accordingly. We hold quarterly meetings with this coalition to inform them about current training and screening procedures used in airports. We also recently hosted a teleconference with members of these groups to announce the long-standing plans to implement TSA Cares for travelers and inform them of the upcoming launch.

TSA Cares Helpline: 1-855-787-2227: The line is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. EST, excluding federal holidays. After hours, travelers can find information about traveling with disabilities and medical needs on TSA’s website. To learn more click here.

All travelers can contact TSA using Talk To TSA, a web-based tool that allows passengers to reach out to an airport Customer Support Manager directly, and the TSA Contact Center, 1-866-289-9673 or TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov, where travelers can ask questions, provide suggestions and file complaints. All travelers may ask to speak to a TSA supervisor if they have questions about security procedures during the screening process. 




If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our OffTopic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.


23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great news, now there is another source of information that the TSOs can ignore. Of course if you try to inform a TSO of the information you were provided you are punnished and threatened with arrest.

Until the procedures and requirements for the passengers are made public, as in not SSI, then the information provided through this service will not be complete or enforcable. Just like the woman held for over 40 minutes because she requested that her breast milk not be sent through the X-ray scanner as it is a medical fluid and should be screened by alternative methods.

Anonymous said...

One point of emphasis I hope they make to passengers who carry those cards which state they have a condition or implant - that those cards are not a "free pass" as evidence of their implant. Those cards are only intended to more accurately and quickly convey to the screener the nature of their condition which might require special procedures in order to perform the screening. I've heard from several persons who hold cards who've had hip replacements who were angry that they had to get patted down when the old style metal detector machines beeped. "I had my card - they KNEW I had an implant!" Doesn't matter! The card only tells the screener that the person is going to beep the machine no matter how many times they check their pockets!

Anonymous said...

And who should people call when your poorly trained, unprofessional screeners ignore your ageny's own policies? Who should people call when your screeners force them to strip or remove braces or grope their genitals? The fact that you have to create this useless "help" line is itself testimony to the pathetic ineptitude of your agency. I will be driving this holiday season until sanity is restored to our airports.

Anonymous said...

"TSA Cares, but only 9am - 9pm Monday -Friday. TSA doesn't care nights, weekends and public holidays....

In all seriousness, this program is useless if the TSO's on the front line don't care. And after my experience last week in Miami, it appears many of them don't.

Anonymous said...

What we need is a 1-800 number in six inch high numbers clearly posted at every check point that the traveling public can call on the spot to instantly speak with a third-party non-TSA advocate as soon as a TSA abuse occurs or is in process.

It is unclear how calling in advance is going to help anyone through the security mess at airports. Typical of the TSA, "TSA Cares" inherently implies that the traveler is doing something wrong and they need to be better educated. When in fact it was over zealous TSA staff at JFK who created the recent incidents at JFK with several elderly citizens who were obviously not terrorists but the TSA would not back off until they were strip searched. Please Congress - do something about this out of control agency!

Anonymous said...

A set of rules that can be violated upon the whim of a TSO is not a set of rules at all. Is the helpline just another way to pad the staffing?

Anonymous said...

Are these folks are response as those in the Talk to TSA team you keep mentioning in your posts?

I have talked TO the TSA, but they never talked back.

Anonymous said...

I have asked this before in good faith, but my comments were censored like many others'. What medical conditions are we required to disclose to the TSA?

There are millions of Americans with Diabetes. Will they be arrested and prosecuted if they fail to carry and provide an appropriate ID card? What about AIDS?

Are there particular surgeries that should or should not be disclosed to the TSO screening me?

Why are the rules secret if you expect us to follow them?

Anonymous said...

This is just a smoke cover, that is going to be used as an excuse for the next blunders ("they should have contacted TSA cares first") or place to listen to and then ignore complaints.

If you really cared, you´d stop with the ridiculous, unscientific and ineffective personal searches. Getting rid of the shoes, liquids, laptop, full body scan and behavior detection nonsense would be a great start.

Anonymous said...

The TSA does not need more useless help lines that do nothing more that continually repeat the same stale messages most Americans have heard time and again. The TSA believes it will somehow "educate" average American travelers to improve customer service. For those of us who travel frequently, it's clear the people who need "educating" are TSA employees. The first lesson TSA employees should learn is that their salaries are funded by law-abiding taxpaying Americans.

Anonymous said...

The way I understand this new idea is that those who feel they may have difficulties during the screening process due to a medical issue, can call and receive advice on what to do to prepare for their trip and once they arrive. I also believe to understand it such that once someone does call, they're not left to say "well so-and-so on the hotline said..." rather once the call is placed, their name and travel itenterary will be forwarded to a local POC who will, in turn, ensure they have a comfortable experience.
It's on TSA, at this point, to ensure EVERYONE has access to and knowledge of this hotline so that all may utilize it. Placing signs just at the airport is not going to work... Great idea, lets see how the implementation goes...

Anonymous said...

Be careful Bob, if the people answering the hotline actually answer questions, you might be out of a job.

TSM said...

Quoted:
"I have asked this before in good faith, but my comments were censored like many others'. What medical conditions are we required to disclose to the TSA?

There are millions of Americans with Diabetes. Will they be arrested and prosecuted if they fail to carry and provide an appropriate ID card? What about AIDS?

Are there particular surgeries that should or should not be disclosed to the TSO screening me?"
-------------------
You are not REQUIRED to disclose ANY medical condition to go through screening. HOWEVER, if you would like to, for example, bypass the metal detector due to, let's say, a pregnancy or defib or something you do need to just let the TSO know that you do not want to go through the walk through. They will arrange for a pat down.
Now if you have a sensitive area that may affect the pat down, or a insulin pump or ostomy bag, that you have to let the TSO know about so they can be careful of that area.

If you are carrying foods that would normally be prohibited and they are required due to say, diabetes, then you need to let the TSO know that if you want to take the foods through.

Anonymous said...

"They will arrange for a pat down.
Now if you have a sensitive area that may affect the pat down, or a insulin pump or ostomy bag, that you have to let the TSO know about so they can be careful of that area."

Unless you're an elderly woman with a back brace going through security at JFK, eh?

Has the TSA admitted fault in that debacle yet or is it still blaming the passenger?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but every contact I´ve had with the TSA demostrates they don´t care.

RB said...

Seems to me that TSA would be more progressive if TSA trained its employees properly and then demanded that TSA employees performed their jobs correctly.

Perhaps the claims by TSA that TSA employees are all highly trained is not exactly true.

Anonymous said...

Quoted:
" Anonymous said...
"They will arrange for a pat down.
Now if you have a sensitive area that may affect the pat down, or a insulin pump or ostomy bag, that you have to let the TSO know about so they can be careful of that area."

Unless you're an elderly woman with a back brace going through security at JFK, eh?

Has the TSA admitted fault in that debacle yet or is it still blaming the passenger?

December 25, 2011 2:13 AM"
----------------------------
Wasn't there. Neither were you. Neither of us knows what really happened.

Anonymous said...

"Wasn't there. Neither were you. Neither of us knows what really happened."

Sure I do. And you do, too. The essential fact elements are not in dispute. TSA policy is that no one must remove a medical device. The passenger was required to remove a medical device. Both the TSA account and the passenger's account agree on this.

The question is, why do you dispute it?

Ryan Russman said...

This could definitely be a wonderful thing if implemented correctly. To start this is a great way to try to educate people on what this hotline can do and what it will do. I think, like all new things it may take some time to tweak the process, but hopefully it will help many more than it angers. The biggest thing will be to make sure that there is good communication between the TSA and the people doing the searches, without that there is no progress.

RB said...

Ryan Russman said...
This could definitely be a wonderful thing if implemented correctly.
.......................

No it is not a wonderful thing.

It is an indication of the failure of TSA to train its employees, to monitor the performance of TSA employees, and total lack of TSA leadership. Even worse TSA is focusing this for people with medical and other issues.

This hot line will not take care of TSA employees confiscating cupcakes, thefts from luggage by TSA employees, interference of civil rights by TSA employees, not knowing which ID's are acceptable and so forth.

What really needs to happen is some real training for TSA employees, standards of accountability that very strict, some real leadership by TSA managers and the willingness by TSA to fire employees who just can't do the job.

TSA is so broken that I'm not sure the mess can be cleaned up and if that is the case then all airport screening should be returned to the owners of the property being protected. Government does not rightfully have a mandate to provide basic security to private property owners.

Anonymous said...

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/lifestyle/2012/10/tsa-embarrasses-woman-en-route-to-end-of-life-trip/ How shameful is this?

Jill said...

I would like to mention what an amazing job TSA did to help us. The agent in Hartford met us at the door, got us through security and even went to the ticket agent for us and got a the preboarding pass from our airline. I was having trouble finding the one in Orlando so I went to the first person I saw and she walked us to where we needed to be and found the agent that was supposed to help us. He was also awesome and got us through the craziness that is Orlando security without a hitch. That has traditionally been one of the most stressful parts of the trip for us but the TSA agents were awesome. They were all knowledgeable and friendly and I was most impressed that the woman didn't just point to where we should go but actually walked with us.

GSOLTSO said...

Jill sez - "I would like to mention what an amazing job TSA did to help us."

I am happy to hear that we were able to provide you the assistance getting through Jill! Safe travels and thanks for letting us know.

West
TSA Blog Team