Air Travel Tips


Advice for Air Travel

Lots of children affected by Dup15q Syndrome do well traveling by air, and being prepared increases your chance for success.  I surveyed the Dup15q Parent support page for suggestions on what works:

Before you go

Read a social story about airports/airplanes to prepare your child.  Create a picture schedule. See if your airport has a Wings for Autism program.  Familiarity will reduce anxiety.

Practice using earphones/earbuds.

Download apps, music, ibooks, and movies onto devices.

Bring doctor documentation of disability to get a free National Park Access Pass in case there are national parks/monuments/sites near your destination.  (Or order online for $10 handling fee:

Get a letter from the doctor confirming diagnoses and list of current medications.

Call the TSA Cares helpline 72 hours prior to travel at 855-787-2227 (8am-11pm ET, 9am-8pm ET weekends/holidays).  You can print out your own notification card to present to TSA officer for accommodations on

Schedule a direct flight if possible.

Book a hotel with a pool.


Navigating the airport

Ask for handicapped assistance right when you get to the airport – you can ride in a cart, get a passenger support specialist, and/or facilitate the TSA inspection. 

Tell TSA your child ‘has special needs’ or ‘has autism’ and/or show the notification card.

Keep ipad/electronics on top to easily get out for the scanner, and keep meds in the original labeled container.  Declare any liquid medicines and formula to the TSA agent before screening; these can exceed the 3 oz limit, but may be tested for explosives.

Run your child around the airport to get out excess energy before boarding.  Consider saving eating for an activity to do on the plane.

Change diaper or take to the bathroom just before boarding.  Most airports have family bathrooms or companion rooms.

Wheel your stroller/wheelchair right up to the plane and gate check it.


On the plane

Preboard when the airline announces boarding for people who need extra time.  Seat your child next to the window.

Bring a carseat on the plane if your child is used to traveling with a carseat.  It will be familiar and keep your child safe.  Some use five-point travel vests.

Bring a backpack with favorite snacks, favorite toys, books, fidgets/sensory items, and iPad with headphones (some recommend CozyPhones or Bluetooth clip on speakers).  “Keeping them busy definitely helps.”  Also bring medicines, diapers/wipes, and perhaps a lap pad and change of clothes. 

Some people put multiple diapers with slits cut in them to serve as filtration to the main diaper.

Keep fluids up to help with ear pressure (although some recommend limiting liquids to reduce diaper changes.)

Sit at the bulkhead or have someone from your party sit in the seat in front of your child to minimize annoyance due to kicking the seat.

Car Seats and Air Travel

Did you know Every U.S. airline allows you to check a car seat free of charge when traveling with a child. You can check your car seat at the airport baggage counter or wait and check it at your gate.

Can I bring my car seat on board the plane? If you have a seat booked for your child and a car seat that is approved for use in aircraft by the FAA, then you can bring and use a car seat on board for your child.

Consider traveling with a more compact car seat models.  Check out this list of the best car seats for air travel

Car seats are obviously not allowed in exit rows (nor are any kids under age 15).  But car seats are also not allowed in any seats where they would block the exit paths of others in the row.  In a single aisle plane with a 3-3 configuration, for example, this means that car seats are for the most part allowed only in the window seats.

* Booster seats are not approved for use in planes by the FAA.

For more information check out this website: Carseats on Airplanes: Everything you wanted to know


An alternative option to the car seat is Cares Airplane Safety Harness for Children

CARES Child Aviation Restraint System is designed specifically for aviation use for children age 1 and older who weigh between 22 and 44 pounds. These youngsters are old enough to be in their own seats, but are too small for the seat belt alone to protect them and provide the safety they require during airplane travel. Their bodies cannot withstand the jolts that are common in routine air travel, much less emergency situations, and they flail forward or slide beneath the seat belt if they are not held securely in place.