Travelling with reduced mobility or medical devices and aids

If you are travelling and have a disability or medical condition which may affect how you undergo the screening process, you should bring supporting documentation with you such as a medical identification card or letter from your medical practitioner. If you require assistance, inform the security screening officer before you begin the screening process and be ready to provide your supporting documentation.

Exemptions for medically-prescribed devices and aids

There are no restrictions for medically-prescribed devices and aids on domestic flights and international flights to and from Australia as long as you carry supporting documentation from your medical practitioner.

Medically-prescribed devices and aids are exempt from the powder, liquid, aerosol and gel restrictions that apply for international travel. These may include:

  • gel-filled external breast prostheses
  • personal supplemental oxygen
  • special dietary requirements
  • items used to regulate the temperature of prescription medications or devices, for example storage containers, ice packs or gel-filled heat packs.

Medically-required hypodermic needles are exempt from prohibited item restrictions. You must present the needles and supporting medical documentation to security screening officers at the screening point and to cabin crew as you board the plane.

Where something is to be used during a flight, for example a medicine or hypodermic needles, you are only allowed to carry the amount you need for the flight and any delays.

Medical Emergencies

A medical practitioner or paramedic caring for someone or responding to an emergency, may carry hypodermic needles, a defibrillator or aerosol for medical purposes.

Screening process

All travellers are required to undergo security screening at Australian airports. Alternative screening processes are available for travellers with special needs to ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect. It is important that you inform the security screening officer of your circumstances before you begin the screening process and be ready to provide your supporting documentation.

The security screening officer can then screen you using methods suitable for your needs. This could involve the use of a handheld metal detector, an explosive trace detection test or a frisk search. If a security screening officer decides a frisk search to be the most suitable screening method, you will be asked for your consent, an officer of the same gender should conduct the search and you may request it take place in a private room.

You are not required to remove your shoes and belts prior to screening. However, you may be asked to remove them if they need to be screened and cleared through an X-ray machine.

Alternative screening processes may be used if:

  • you have a medically-diagnosed disability or condition that reduces your mobility
  • you need to remain in your wheelchair and you are unable to be screened and cleared by the security screening equipment
  • you have a medical device such as an implant, pacemaker, external prosthesis, insulin pump, stoma and ostomy pouches that may be affected by, or interact with, a walkthrough metal detector or body scanner.

Walking aids, such as a cane or crutches, and wheelchairs can be taken onboard but will need to be security screened by X-ray or hand-held metal detector. Chairs and walking aids are available for you to use during this process.

Body Scanners

You may be screened by a body scanner which is designed to detect items worn or carried on the body. It can detect external devices on your body, such as external prostheses, insulin pump, stoma or ostomy pouches. The results of a body scan will only display as a generic human outline with a box overlay on the area of the body where items are located.

When an item is detected, you will be asked to explain what the item is. If it is of a personal nature, you can request this be discussed in a private room and with a screening officer of the same gender. The screening officer may use a hand-held metal detector, an explosive trace detection test or a targeted frisk search of the area to clear the items.

You will never be asked to remove or to show external prostheses, and a screening officer should never touch these items.

Are there any risks with medical devices and screening procedures?

Medical devices are designed and manufactured to international standards that require them to be protected from interference from external energy sources. The Therapeutic Goods Association recommends that if you are using these types of medical devices, to follow the instructions for use provided by the manufacturer. This includes taking notice of any warnings or precautions relating to operating the device in close proximity to other electronic radiation emitting products.