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Tips for Travelling with a Cane

Travelling with a cane can often prove challenging, especially if you intend to take a plane, so you may wonder whether you can bring your cane with you without checking it. If you use a cane to assist with mobility, the answer is yes, but you should still consider these tips for travelling with a cane.

Does TSA Says Canes Are Mobility Aids?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) classifies canes as mobility aids, and they allow them on planes. Both you and your cane, however, will still have to undergo screening. It’s important to inform the TSA officer conducting the screening if you can’t stand and hold your arms above your head (required by the more advanced screening devices) for a few minutes, or if you can’t walk unassisted. When your cane is x-rayed or manually inspected, you’ll be separated from it for at least a few minutes. Even if you can manage standing and walking, you should still tell the security officer if you’ll need your cane returned to you right away. Don’t try to bring a novelty cane that conceals anything—security officers are well known to lack a sense of humor about such things.

Is a Cane a Carry-on?

Your airline most likely wouldn’t count a cane against your allowed number of carry-on items, but check in advance to be on the safe side. Different airlines may have different rules. A note from your doctor isn’t required, but having one with you isn’t a bad idea.

Once you make it through security, you may wonder what to do with the cane aboard the plane. Since you use a cane, you may have the ability to take advantage of early boarding if your airline offers it. Ask a flight attendant what to do about your cane. They may store it for you or explain the airline’s rules about where else to put it.

What if My Cane Doesn’t Fit in the Overhead or Under a Seat?

Collapsible or foldable canes provide a good solution if your cane won’t fit in an approved storage area. Some foldable canes collapse down enough to securely stow them underneath the seat in front of you. A carrying bag made especially for your type of cane can also help keep it clean and in good condition while in flight. Checking a cane with your bags is a last resort. If you must do it, secure the cane in a sturdy tube or shipping case. Don’t leave it vulnerable to damage in a soft-sided suitcase.

After you land, the flight attendant should return your cane or help you retrieve it. If it isn’t returned to you promptly, just ask. It’s in all passengers’ best interests for the flight crew to accommodate your needs quickly—everyone wants to get off the plane as soon as possible. Elbow and leg room are at a premium on planes (literally – people can pay extra for extra leg room), so while you should expect courtesy from your fellow passengers, you should afford it to them too. Remain mindful with your cane and stay conscious of what and who are around you. Planning ahead and considering these tips for travelling with a cane should help keep your travel free of cane-related hassles.