Sharing info about disability accommodation at MCO

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by coastgirl, Aug 16, 2018.

  1. coastgirl

    coastgirl DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2006
    Messages:
    2,552
    I got good advice about leaving from MCO with my son, who is on the autism spectrum, so I wanted to share the outcome in case the information helps someone else.

    I contacted the call center for the TSA (855) 787-2227 (info available here: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/passenger-support), two days before we were scheduled to depart. Note the site advises 72 hours, but I forgot—and calling 48 hrs out didn’t cause an issue in my case.

    I explained the issue to the lady who answered the phone. In our case, I was more concerned about the line up than the actual screening. Ds has sensory issues, and last time the unpredictability of the line was very difficult: I couldn’t be sure how long it would take, and there was not a clear queue for the first part, which meant other passengers could, and did, cut line ahead of us. In addition it’s very overwhelming from a sensory perspective. So by the time we got to the screening, he was very close to a melt down, which could potentially appear threatening to the agents if they don’t know what’s going on.

    The lady on the phone wasn’t sure there was much she could do before the checkpoint, but advised me to identify myself to an agent when I got there and ask for a Passenger Support Specialist or a Supervisor. She filed the details as well, and sent me an email with the same information.

    When we got there, the line wasn’t nearly as bad as last time, but I decided to ask for help anyway, as it’s still unpredictable. The agent I spoke to knew exactly what I was looking for and immediately went to get the Passenger Support Specialist. (I wonder if he’d seen the case report already.) It took maybe 5-10 minutes for her to get there, but we were waiting on a bench slightly to the side of the queue.

    She was very nice. Her initial contact with my son was a little patronizing to him, but it’s really, really hard to know how to approach someone on the spectrum without a LOT of individual information beforehand. She did adapt well and quickly once she realized he was very verbal and cognitively able.

    She explained things every step of the way. She took us to the head of one of the lines to have our documents reviewed, then we were also led directly to a short line for the examination. We still had to do “all the things” (take off shoes, take out our devices, stand in the machine thingy) but she got us through quickly, and the other officers saw her and knew to be kind and low-key rather than their usual gruff demeanour. The screening still seemed really…ugh…confusing with all the bins and bags, I had to do the “tube” a second time, and got an extra pat-down and a chemical wipe-screen thingy (I always do—50something moms must be a high risk group), and busy and chaotic. But then our PSS fussed the others away and got us to a bench and brought us all our stuff.

    Dh and I talked about it afterwards; ds HATES being singled out for his autism, and I think he’d rather try to fly under the radar than have the lady treat him like a child (though as I said, she adjusted quickly). Because the lines were shorter than usual, we might have made it through ok this time. However, you never really know what you’re going to encounter, so I think it was worth it.

    Others suggested getting TSA pre. We aren’t American citizens, so I didn’t pursue that. There is Nexus for Canadians, but he only flies about once a year, so not really worth it for us. And I do think it helped not just to get through quickly, but also to have people be a little gentler and kinder.

    I hope that information is useful to someone. Please ask if you have questions, and I’ll answer if I can.
     
  2. lanejudy

    lanejudy Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2011
    Messages:
    11,013
    Thank you for sharing your experience!
     
  3. Avatar

    Advertisement


  4. kuhltiffany

    kuhltiffany DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2011
    Messages:
    1,647
    Thanks! We're Canadian and are flying for the first time with new Nexus cards, I'm hoping they make things easier...
     
  5. Starwind

    Starwind DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    May 7, 2014
    Messages:
    1,937
    Glad it worked out well f or you.

    A quick note: Having Nexus makes one eligible to use Global Entry and Pre-Check: https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/nexus/tsa-pre✓® We have Nexus and have used both GE and PreCheck when traveling to/from/within the US and it makes things much easier (shorter lines, easier processes).

    Even if only flying once a year, the cost is $50 for five years, so $10 a year...

    An example of why it has been worth it to us: US Customs pre-clearance line at Pearson airport: normal line was a one hour wait. The Global Entry line had multiple kiosks with NO WAIT at all.

    SW
     
    bumbershoot and kuhltiffany like this.
  6. ttintagel

    ttintagel DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    3,963
    Thanks for your report!

    We are a multi disability family, so we always request wheelchair assistance when making our plane reservations. The skycaps not only helped us get across the airport, but also helped us get through security. They seemed to know the security agents, and chatted with them while they were helping us. We were also sent through the shortest line, which may have been the same one you got. I can't go through the super intense x-ray machine because of my insulin pump, and the skycap made sure and that the lady giving the patdowns was there and ready for me.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
  7. DisneyOma

    DisneyOma DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2015
    Messages:
    3,668
    Glad to know they were very thorough in their screening - I can just imagine some terrorist thinking of a plan to either get a disabled person or someone pretending to be disabled in order to get a less than thorough screening to get something on a plane.

    Also, if you are always getting pulled for screening, there's something you are wearing or carrying that is getting tagged for it. My daughter figured out it was the box of poptarts (foil wrapped in the box) she always brought with her as emergency food.
     
  8. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 1999
    Messages:
    32,667
    Thanks for posting uour experience.

    One thing yo be aware of with Precheck - having paid for it does not mean you will get it every single time.
    The TSA Precheck webpages and FAQs say that no passenger is guaranteed expidited screening.
    It’s available in msny, but not all airports and airlines.
    https://www.tsa.gov/precheck/faq

    Every airport will have either a Passenger Support Specialist or Supervisor who are able to assist.
     
  9. zaccy

    zaccy Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2010
    Messages:
    156
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

    Living overseas and having never flown out of MCO I just wanted to confirm what was meant by 'the machine thingy', is that the doorway like part where you walk through while your bags are being screened through the x-ray or the circular space where you need to stand and raise your hands while it wizzes around you. If it is the latter and everyone has to go through it, we are going to have some work to do.... I fear my child on the spectrum would not cope with that at all!

    If someone could clarify I would really appreciate it.
     
  10. ttintagel

    ttintagel DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    3,963
    Last time I was at MCO it was just the walk-through thing. But that was a couple of years ago.
     
  11. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    Messages:
    66,741
    It would totally be worth it, IMO. 50 dollars for 5 years of flights? And you’re flying out of one of the worst US airports? Worth it.

    We have it as Americans and it’s wonderful. Just make sure that the ktn is accounted for while doing online checkin; I’ve axtually gone back through and manually entered it when the system didn’t “see” it in the account and didn’t give pre. Second time through it always has.

    The interview process is a hassle, but they accepted my answer of “I like Canada and want it to be easier to travel” as my answer for why I wanted nexus. Both the American and Canadian immigration guys were fine with that answer. So “to make it easier for us to get through the airport” wouldn’t be an answer that gets you thrown out lol.

    When traveling on the same reservation with my child I’ve never been sent through the arms up machine. I can’t do it anyway bc of a dicey shoulder (so when traveling alone I’ve gotten to be patted down more than a few times).

    But with my child I’ve always been sent through the normal metal detector that you just walk through.
     
  12. RaySharpton

    RaySharpton Retired and going to Disney.

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2000
    Messages:
    4,823
    They have both x-ray type machines in Atlanta, Georgia, but in Orlando, as of June 2018, they only had the walkthrough.

    I also have the TSA Pre-Check.

    It seems a lot less claustrophobic in Atlanta, Georgia, but the area seems so small as compared to Orlando which is right near that very high, open lobby of the hotel. The TSA entrance was on the far left side and looked just like the other walkthrough x-ray frames.

    Both Atlanta and Orlando offered me to stay on my scooter, but if either airport asked me, I would go through either of their x-ray devices, which I have done. They always offered me an all wood cane to walk through or stand up. I have a hard time holding up my hands way above my head and I lose my balance easily. One time they let me keep the wooden cane and even lean on the circular x-ray device.

    The last time, I had to walk through both airports x-ray devices since they asked me if I could stand up. I always make sure I am well rested and relaxed before flying. But if I ever felt ill, I would say no to standing up.
     
    mamabunny likes this.
  13. ttintagel

    ttintagel DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    3,963
    The last time I went through MCO on crutches, they gave me two plastic canes. It felt so weird!
     
  14. RaySharpton

    RaySharpton Retired and going to Disney.

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2000
    Messages:
    4,823
    Just a guess on my part, but the wooden cane didn't have any metal parts to set off the x-ray machine in the airport. I guess they had a special all plastic crutches that was glued together so that there were no plastic parts.

    For my own experience, if the crutches height were the correct height for me, then they could help hold my body up while I temporarily held up my arms during the x-ray. I wonder if the plastic crutches had plastic screws to adjust it to the individual person's height?
     

Share This Page