Special Needs

CATSA recognizes that travel can be challenging for passengers with special needs. This section offers general information about planning your trip and what to do at the screening checkpoint, followed by specific information by special need. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us

Planning Your Trip

  • If you need someone to help you through the screening checkpoint, please contact your airline in advance. The person assisting you will need authorization from the check-in counter, and will have to go through the same security screening as other passengers.
  • If you have a medical condition that makes it difficult to stand in line or are unable to lift your baggage onto the screening belt, you should advise airline staff when your boarding pass is issued.
  • You can bring medical implants, mobility aids and assistive devices. They can be brought in addition to the two carry-on bag limit.
  • You are not required to bring documentation to support your medical needs or condition. However, if you feel that it would help ease your screening, it should be presented to the screening officer along with your medically necessary items.
  • Prescription medications and essential non-prescription medications are exempted from the 100 ml or 100 g (3.4 oz) limit and do not have to be placed in a plastic bag. However, we recommend that these items be properly labeled (manufacturer's name or pharmaceutical label identifying the medication).
  • Check with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to go through the walk-through metal detector or be screened using a hand-held metal detector.

At the Screening Checkpoint

  • When you arrive at the checkpoint, you (and those travelling with you) can let the screening officers know that you require assistance or more time to get through the screening process. Also, upon request, screening officers will expedite the security screening process for you, including your travel companion(s) or service animal.
  • Once the screening officers know you need assistance, they will:
    • assist you through the screening process by providing additional verbal or visual cues or instructions as required;
    • allow an airline representative to go through the screening process with you if you need their assistance;
    • make every reasonable effort to screen you and your assistive device(s) at the same time, however, if the screening officers need to screen your device separately, they will return it to you without delay; and
    • offer you a chair if you choose to have your mobility aid screened separately, and; your aid will be returned to you without delay.
  • If a physical search or explosive trace detection (ETD) swab is needed, you can ask to be screened in a private search room.

Information by Special Need

Passengers with limited mobility
  • If you need assistance, please inform the screening officer when you arrive at the checkpoint.
  • Tell the screening officer if you are not able to go through the walk-through metal detector unassisted. He or she will then offer you the following screening options:
    • Go through the walk-through metal detector with assistance from a non-metallic cane provided courtesy of CATSA (for temporary use for this purpose only);
    • Bypass the walk-through metal detector and be screened with a hand-held metal detector ;
    • Bypass the walk-through metal detector and undergo a full body scan; or
    • Bypass the walk-through metal detector and undergo a physical search.
  • If you’re travelling with a mobility aid (e.g. cane or walker), screening officers will ask if you would like to proceed through screening using your own mobility aid or if you wish to use a non-metallic cane provided by CATSA while your item is screened separately. If you choose to use your own device, you will be asked to bypass the walk-through metal detector and undergo a physical search while the device undergoes a search and explosive trace detection. If you choose to allow your mobility aid to be screened separately, you will be offered a chair to sit down, and the item will be screened and returned to you without delay.
  • Wheelchairs and mobility aids: Contact your airline in advance to arrange to transport your battery-operated wheelchair or mobility aids.
  • Screening officers will inspect your wheelchair or scooter and perform explosive trace detection as well as a physical search of both you and your mobility aid. You can stay seated during the inspection if you are unable to get up.
Passengers with medically necessary equipment
  • If you need assistance, please inform the screening officer when you arrive at the checkpoint.
  • CPAP devices: The distilled water needed to operate Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices is exempt from liquid restrictions. When bringing a CPAP device through the checkpoint, unpack the main unit from its carrying case and place it in a bin. We recommend placing the main unit in a clear plastic bag (not provided by CATSA). Tubes and masks can stay in the carrying case.  See our infographic.
  • BiPAP devices: When bringing a BiPAP device through the checkpoint, unpack the main unit from its carrying case and place it in a bin. We recommend placing the main unit in a clear plastic bag (not provided by CATSA). Tubes and masks can stay in the carrying case. See our infographic
  • POCs: When bringing a personal oxygen concentrator (POC) device through the checkpoint, unpack the main unit from its carrying case and place it in a bin. We recommend placing the main unit in a clear plastic bag (not provided by CATSA). Tubes and masks can stay in the carrying case.  See our infographic
  • Medical defibrillators and small oxygen or air cylinders: These items may be packed in carry-on or checked baggage, but let your airline know in advance that you will be bringing them.
  • Ostomy supplies: Passengers with an ostomy pouch should tell the screening officer before the screening process begins. Ostomy supplies (pouches and flanges) can be packed in your carry-on bag. We suggest you prepare your flanges by cutting them in advance for your trip, in case you need them on board the plane. Paste tubes must comply with the liquids, aerosols and gels regulations (100 ml or less) and be placed in a clear 1 L plastic bag.
  • Diabetic supplies: Diabetic supplies and equipment such as syringes, insulin auto-injectors, jet injectors, and pumps are permitted. Syringes must be for personal medical use, and the needle guard must be in place. The person must possess medication that is to be administered by means of the syringe or needle and biojectors. Liquid medications (i.e. insulin) are exempted from the liquid restrictions (including gel or ice packs to refrigerate the medication). Juice and gel for passengers who indicate a need for such items to address a diabetic condition are also permitted. 
  • Feeding (enteral) pump/tube supplies: Feeding supplies and equipment such as pump (electrical or battery operated), tubes, feeding syringes, nutrition bags or packs, and liquid/formula nutritional supplements are permitted in your carry-on bag. It is helpful for a passenger to let the screening officer know that they have these items with them before the screening process begins. Nutritional supplements used with a feeding tube/pump are exempt from the liquid restrictions (including ice packs to refrigerate the supplements). Consult with the manufacturer of the feeding device/pump to determine whether it can pass through the X-ray (if you are safely able to disconnect the feeding pump), or if the pump must remain connected to you, can you enter a full body scanner or pass through a walk-through metal detector.
  • If you have a medically necessary item that is not listed here, review the list of permitted mobility aids, assistive devices and medical items.
Blind or partially sighted passengers
  • If you are travelling with a service animal, contact your airline in advance to find out about related policies.
  • If you would like assistance, please inform the screening officer when you arrive at the checkpoint. Screening officers will provide you with verbal and physical guidance through all steps in the screening process.
  • Blind or partially sighted passengers and their service animals can pass through the walk-through metal detector either separately or together.
  • Or, you can choose to bypass the walk-through metal detector and use alternate screening options, such as the use of a hand-held metal detector, a full body scanner or physical search.
  • You don’t need to remove your service animal’s harness but carrying bags or pouches must go through the X-ray and be swabbed for explosive trace detection (ETD) testing. The screening officer will visually inspect your service animal and its harness.
  • All passengers travelling with animals, including guide dogs, must be swabbed for ETD testing.
Deaf or hard of hearing passengers
  • If you need assistance, please inform the screening officer when you arrive at the checkpoint.
  • You can be screened without removing hearing aids or devices. These can be inspected visually while you are wearing them.
  • As hearing aids, devices and cochlear implants (with a transmitter coil and microphone), or external devices, such as components worn on a belt or carried in a pocket, could be affected by X-ray and metal detector technology, CATSA recommends you ask for a full body scan or physical search.
Passengers with prosthetic limbs, orthotic devices, medical casts, large bandages or dressings
  • If you need assistance, please inform the screening officer when you arrive at the checkpoint.
  • Screening officers will not ask you to remove a prosthesis, orthotic device, medical cast, large bandage or dressing.
  • If your prosthesis, orthotic device, cast or dressing contains metal, you can bypass the walk-through metal detector. The screening officer will recommend alternate screening options, such as the use of a hand-held metal detector, a full body scanner or physical search.
    The screening officer will visually inspect your prosthesis, orthotic device, cast or dressing (if possible) and conduct an explosive trace detection (ETD) test. He or she will also swab your hands, waist area and foot (or footwear) for ETD testing.
  • Note that small gas cylinders for mechanical limbs are permitted in both carry-on and checked baggage.
Passengers with metal implants
Passengers with implanted medical devices
  • If you have an implanted medical device (e.g. pacemaker, defibrillator, infusion pump, ostomy pouch or blood glucose meter), please tell the screening officer where the device is located before screening begins.
  • All passengers with implanted medical devices can bypass the walk-through metal detector.
  • Passengers with pacemakers or defibrillators should not be screened by walk-through or hand-held metal detectors.
  • The screening officer will recommend appropriate options, such as a full body scanner or physical search. He or she will also visually inspect your device and swab your hands, waist area and foot (or footwear) for explosive trace detection (ETD) testing.
Children with disabilities
  • Disabled children can be screened without being separated from their parents or guardians.
  • If you need assistance, please inform the screening officer when you arrive at the checkpoint.
  • Before the screening process begins, inform the screening officer of your child’s needs and suggest the best way to approach and screen your child.
  • If your child cannot be screened using a walk-through metal detector, a hand-held metal detector or a full body scanner, the screening officer can perform a physical search.
  • Parents/caregivers should review the physical search procedures for minors.
Passengers with intellectual, cognitive, learning or development disabilities
  • Passengers with intellectual, cognitive, learning or development disabilities such as autism or dementia, or mental health issues can be screened without being separated from their travelling companions.
  • If you need assistance, please inform the screening officer when you arrive at the checkpoint.
  • Before the screening process begins, inform the screening officer of the passenger’s needs and suggest the best way to approach and screen the passenger.
  • If the passenger cannot be screened using a walk-through metal detector, a hand-held metal detector or a full body scanner, the screening officer can perform a physical search.