Air Travel as an Amputee

Taking a trip should be enjoyable, but air travel as an amputee can be very stressful! The challenge for travelers with disabilities is to foresee their special needs and check carefully to ensure those needs are met every step of the way. Unfortunately, even when this is done, things don’t always turn out as anticipated. Travelers should know how to protest and assert their rights when things go wrong. Here are some tips and links for traveling as an amputee!

Kick back and relax!

It is important to be prepared and to know what your airline offers! For example, when I fly Southwest I get to board first with no extra charge or pre-arrival work! With some airlines, you can “check” a disability assistive device for no extra charge!

One of the most frustrating parts of air travel for me involves TSA. I always allow for extra time because I know that I will need it to get through TSA. My leg always sets off the metal detectors, and then I have to be patted down. They swab my leg, my hands, and ask me a few questions. I usually leave my shoes on since they’ll be swabbing me anyway (they can’t make you take them off so make use of your disabled status!)

When booking

  • If you need help getting on the plane and to your seat, you will need to request any necessary assistance when booking your ticket at least 48 hours prior to departure.
  • Consider booking your trip through an experienced travel agency or a company specializing in disabled travel – their knowledge could be invaluable for ensuring your flight and accommodation needs are met.
Accessible Journeys
35 West Sellers AVE
Ridley Park, PA 19078
Access Aloha414 Kuwili ST STE 101
Honolulu, HI 96817
Flying Wheels143 W Bridge ST
Owatonna, MN 55060
Easy Access Travel5386 Arlington AVE
Riverside, CA 92501
Cruise Holidays701 Carlson Parkway
Minnetonka, MN 55305
Gimp on the Go4808 Moorland LN
Box 310
Bethesda, MD 20814

Toilets on planes are generally small and can be challenging for those with limited mobility, so for longer journeys, you may want to consider taking shorter connecting flights rather than one long-haul trip.

  • Certified Assistance Dogs are permitted on most flights.
  • If you will be bringing a wheelchair you will need to provide your airline with as much information about it as possible, including dimensions, type of wheelchair, number of batteries, type of battery and weight.
  • Crutches, Canes, Walkers, & Scooters
  • Casts & Support Braces
  • Wheelchairs
  • Service animals
  • Prosthetic devices & associated tools
  • Assistive/adaptive equipment
  • CPAP machines & respirators
  • Medications & associated supplies
  • Tools for wheelchair disassembly/reassembly
  • All diabetes-related medication, equipment, & supplies
  • Any other disability-related equipment & associated supplies
Disability-related items permitted through the security checkpoint include:


tsa, airport, amputee, flight, transportation security administration

Read about Daily Struggles as an Amputee here.


At the airport

  • Check in as early as possible to ensure you can secure the best seat for your needs.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to reach the airport and your departure gate with time to spare. It may be worth arriving a couple hours early to anticipate delays.
  • All passengers, including those with disabilities, are required to undergo security searches. You may wish to alert security staff of any specific medical needs prior to a security search.
  • Wheelchair users will not need to pass through the metal detectors, but will instead be subject to a body search. Make sure to inform security of any painful or sensitive areas before they begin.
  • They cannot require you to take your shoes off! They will most likely have to swab you anyway, so they can just swab your shoes too.
10 Major Airlines
Air Canada
Alaska Airlines
American Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines


2 thoughts on “Air Travel as an Amputee

  • February 11, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Great post. Apt.
    I am a bilateral amputee and I travel a lot. I have had mixed experiences at different airports. Schipol Airport in Amsterdam in my opinion is by far the best in terms of treatment and care of persons with disabilities. My worst experiences have been in US (Detroit in particular) and at Charles de Gaulle airport. They made me pass through the scanner in Detroit despite telling them that I had prosthetic limbs on. Of course, the alarm went off and they were scrambling over themselves calling security officers to come and search me. The old lady used me to teach the younger agent how to do full pat down. Told her disabilities must never be a limitation to Air travel. And I will keep traveling despite their lack of courtesy and their insensitivity. I never take off my shoes. Because they are going to swab my prosthetic limbs, shoes and hands anyway. Someone at Heathrow Airport insisted that I must remove my shoes. Told her she would have to take both legs. She was red in the face apologising. Most importantly, I have learnt to keep a broad smile on through the tedious process. It is quite disarming.
    It takes Character to treat others with respect and courtesy while doing your “job.” I simply refuse to be discouraged from doing something I love doing and that’s traveling.

    • February 11, 2018 at 3:44 pm

      Great comment about differences around the world & all spectrums of disability treatment! Thank you for sharing 🙂


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