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Joint replacements and security; also shoe removal

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Mar 8th, 2009, 04:28 AM
  #1
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Joint replacements and security; also shoe removal

My 80 year old mother and I are flying to Miami prior to a cruise and she has gotten herself in some sort of anxiety state over what will happen at security with her 2 hips and 1 knee replacements. (She walks and talks fine - has not felt so well in years - absolutely no need for wheelchair)

I have assured her they have dealt with this before, will likely wand her, and send her on her way. She keeps obsessing about some letter the orthopod gave her and seems to think that will get her a free pass thru security - which I know is not true. I tell her anyone could print such a letter on their computer, but, of course, I do not know anything.
I picture her pulling down her pants to show TSA her scars as proof - without being asked to do so.

So please tell me exactly what they will do with her at security so I can try to reassure her. Also, how do they expect older people with some mobility issues to stand on one leg and take off their shoes? And would I be mean to send her thru the "inexperienced traveler" line alone while I go thru another TSA line and pretend I do not know her?
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Mar 8th, 2009, 05:44 AM
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Hello gail

Tell your mother these two simple words: Fear Not!!

My parents flew this past December. Dad has a pacemaker and wires in his chest from bypass, and Mom has a titanium knee.

At the LAX airport, there was a special designated line for handicapped folks. The security people were very patient and kind to my parents, guiding them thru the "pat down" procedure very gently (using that wand thingie they have). No pants needed to be pulled down, lol! They both carry a card from their doctor, but did not need to show it at all.

On the return (from Austin), there was no special designated line, just the regular security line. But when they reached the screener, they merely told him of their implant, and he then simply called out "pacemaker" or "hip" and a special screener came and took them thru.

Oh, and my mother was in a wheelchair. She did not have to get out of the wheelchair at anytime.

They did have to take off their shoes though, so I would highly recommend shoes that are slip-on.

I stood with them thru the entire line, but had to go thru the regular security.

Piece of cake. Truly.
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Mar 8th, 2009, 06:19 AM
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My husband had his hip and knee replaced. TSA has always been very pleasant and courteous with him. They run the wand around his joints, gently do the pat down and send him on his way.


NOT to worry.
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Mar 8th, 2009, 07:34 AM
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I've taken my 86 year old grandfather several times through TSA security, he also has a knee and hip replacement and a metal plate in his head from the war. When he was not in a wheelchair (he doesn't need it but it makes life for me and him much easier) they just wanded him and sent him on his way but I found his anxiety and exhaustion in waiting on line a little overwhelming for him. The last time in flying to Santo Domingo to get on a cruise he took the airports offer of a wheelchair and never had to get out nor wait on any lines either for security or customs and immigration. Oh and he enjoyed talking to the cute girl who pushed him so it was a win-win
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Mar 8th, 2009, 07:38 AM
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Let her bring a letter if it puts her mind at rest. As you already said, TSA won't want it, but at least she feels better about having it.

Further, TSA has NEVER asked to see scars.

Go through the inexperienced line with her just to stay together.
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Mar 8th, 2009, 12:41 PM
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I suggest that she has wheelchair assistance as the distances required to walk at airports are quite long. It will also mean that she will get more help and avoid long lines. She just needs to tell security that she has joint replacements. Shoes will need to be removed, slip ons are easiest and a wheelchair is useful so that she can sit down to remove her shoes. A lot of people who don't normally use a wheelchair still have wheelchair assistance at airports.
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Mar 9th, 2009, 09:08 AM
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Just another "don't worry" opinion. The extent she'll get any hassle at all, much will depend on the kind of metal, if any, in the replacements. If it's titanium, shouldn't be a problem. I've got 2 titanium rods in my back after surgery, and the scanners don't pick it up - I always sail through with no delays. If it's steel or a metal alloy, it will often set them off and they'll just wand her as others have said. Takes maybe 3 min. I had a steel plate inserted after elbow surgery (it was temporary so they used a "cheap" version) which often triggered the alarm. So I just started warning TSA ahead of time, and the wand search was easy and quick.
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Mar 9th, 2009, 10:26 AM
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Ditto to dfr, my husband tells TSA just before walking through the metal detector that the alarm will go off.
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Mar 9th, 2009, 10:41 AM
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Tell her not to worry as everyone says above, and if she wants to bring the letter, fine, but do stress that it is not a free pass through security. Since she is not in a wheelchair, simply tell them before she walks through the metal detector that she has replacement parts; they will take her aside and wand her. My husband has a new hip; we have flown many times in the past two years and that is all that happens. I become the person that gets to keep track of all the stuff going through the x-ray machine. Sometimes they will allow him to collect it and take it aside with him; depends on the airport, some have special screened areas, others just an aside area. It will be fine. If possible have her wear shoes that slip on and off easily, that would help. And if you decided to use a line far away from hers, I, for one, would understand, but you do know that is when she will pull out that letter, demand her "free pass' and inform everyone that her daughter is "over there". So stay close to avoid that kind of embarrassment LOL.
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Mar 9th, 2009, 01:17 PM
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Thanks for all the responses - I may print some responses and give them to her.
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Mar 9th, 2009, 03:48 PM
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If your mom is using a cane, it should be placed flat on the conveyor belt to go through x-ray machine with bags and shoes. Most, if not all airports, now offer their own wooden canes to walk through the x-ray gates.
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Mar 9th, 2009, 03:50 PM
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Oh, and for shoe removals, there must be chairs before and after security. I'm trying to remember if I saw them before security probably not! but after, to put them on - plenty.
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Mar 10th, 2009, 04:23 AM
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FYI - I have never seen charis at or before security for shoe removal - I would have noticed since I have a balance problem and am unable to stand on my right leg alone. There is not even anything useful to hold onto. And many older people are unable to bend from the waist and touch their feet - I often wonder how people do this.

Always see some sort of bench/seat after security, though - although it involves walking a bit which is not a bad thing since it would really tie up security lines to have everyone parked right at the end of the conveyor belt.
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Mar 11th, 2009, 11:46 AM
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I experienced no hassle as such in the 8 different security posts I went through last December, but it was difficult. I've had 2 knee replacements, and even though I carry laminated copies of x-rays I had to go through the spread-your-arms-and-legs thing each and every time and get patted down. Getting shoes on and off was not easy; I used throw-away paper foot-covers but even then couldn't avoid stepping on the floor with my socks. The inevitable hurry-up was not fun. The best word for all of this wold be humiliating
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