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Travellers with special needs

To ensure the security of travellers it is important that all passengers and carry-on bags are screened prior to boarding. The Government recognises that some passengers will have special needs when travelling through Australian airports. Training provided to security screening officers is designed to ensure everyone is treated fairly and with respect when going through security screening at the airport.

This section provides information to help passengers with special needs get through security checks as easily and as smoothly as possible.

Travelling with a medical condition or disability

Some travellers with a disability or medical condition may have specific needs and requirements when flying out of Australia. Medical items that you may need during your flight, such as prescription medicines, are allowed in your carry-on bags. Following the simple steps below will help you get through security screening point quickly.

Packing your carry-on bags

  • Some medical items that take a liquid, aerosol or gel form are exempt from the restrictions on liquids, aerosols and gels and can be packed in your carry-on bags. These include prescription medicine and prescribed medical devices. Information on what you cannot take on board is also available.
  • Reasonable quantities of non-prescription medicines are allowed onboard. Security screening officers have the final say on what a reasonable quantity is.
  • Some restrictions apply to medicines and medical devices when you are leaving or coming into Australia.
  • Mobility aids such as walking sticks and crutches can be taken on board, but are subject to the screening process.
  • Hypodermic needles can also be packed in your carry-on bags but you must have proof that they are medically necessary.

Going through security checks

  • Present any liquid, aerosol or gel medications and any hypodermic needles, along with any supporting documentation, to security screening officers at the screening point.
  • Walking aids and wheelchairs must be screened before boarding the plane. These aids may need to undergo an X-ray or explosive trace detection test. Screening points have chairs and walking aids available for you to use during this process.
  • Wheelchair users will be screened by a frisk search if they cannot be screened and cleared through the metal detection equipment. A frisk search can be conducted in private.
  • Inform the security screening officer if you have any medical conditions, such as a pacemaker, that might be affected by security screening. If you have a pacemaker, you will be screened through the body scanner or with a frisk search.
  • Inform the security screening officer if you have an implanted metal device, or any other device that may trigger an alarm. If you have a metal implant that alarms the walk-through metal detector, you will be screened with a hand-held metal detector to locate the device and a frisk search. If a frisk search is required, you can request that the search takes place in private.

Travellers with specific cultural or religious requirements

Everyone, regardless of their religious or cultural background, has to be screened at the screening points at Australian airports before they can board the plane. The Australian Government understands that some cultures incorporate elements of clothing into their religious observance. To respect these requirements, the Government provides the option for individuals to be screened in a private room, if requested.

Packing your carry-on bags

  • Check with your airline before you travel regarding what items you cannot take onboard. Some religious items could be considered a prohibited item or weapon under Australian law.
  • If you are carrying a prohibited item or weapon in your carry-on baggage or on your person, security screening staff may be able to make arrangements for you to pack this item in your checked baggage, however this may not always be possible. Where it is not possible, you will have to surrender the item to pass through the security screening point. It is best to pack these items in your checked baggage, if permitted.

Travellers who are hearing- or vision-impaired

Travellers who are hearing- or vision-impaired may have specific needs and requirements when flying out of Australia. Security screening officers may use hand signals to gain the attention of a passenger who is hearing-impaired. Screening officers are trained to talk to the hearing-impaired passenger, and not to their escort. It is important for the hearing-impaired passenger to understand what they need to do to assist with the security screening process.

Going through security checks

  • Passengers who are vision-impaired may prefer to undergo a physical search rather than go through the metal detection equipment. The passenger can request that they stand or sit for the physical search, and have the option for the screening to take place in private, if they wish.
  • Where it is necessary for security screening officers to search the belongings of a person who is vision-impaired, they are trained to replace the items in their original locations so they can easily be found again.
  • Hearing aids are considered to be part of the person who is wearing them, and as such, the wearer will not be asked to remove their hearing aid prior to being screened.

Travelling with children

Travelling with children, especially young children, puts special demands on the adults responsible for their well being. Following the simple steps below will help make your journey as safe and comfortable as possible.

Packing your bags

Remember the restrictions on travelling with liquids, aerosols and gels on international flights. However, you are allowed to take baby products onboard that may be needed during the course of your flight. This could include medicines, milk or food for your child.

Pushchairs and prams must be screened before you can board the plane with them, but many airlines do not allow these items in the cabin due to space and stowage constraints. Check with your airline for more information.

Going through security checks

Babies and toddlers must be carried through the passenger screening checks by a responsible adult. If your child is able to walk by themselves, they should walk through the metal detector on their own.

Present any baby products that you wish to take onboard to security screening officers before going through security checks. Security screening officers have the final say on what a reasonable amount of baby products is.

For additional information on ensuring you and your children have a safe trip, please refer to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority website.


Last Updated: 1 March, 2016