When you suffer from hearing loss, the prospect of heading to the airport and setting off for an unfamiliar destination can be a bit intimidating. You may worry that you'll have trouble hearing instructions from flight attendants or hosts or that your hearing aids will be confiscated by security. These travel tips can help you navigate the experience and avoid struggles.
Tell the TSA agent that you have a hearing aid device.
You do not need to remove your hearing aids or the exterior portion of a cochlear implant at security. However, you should inform the TSA agents at security that you have a hearing device so that you don't accidentally set off any alerts. If you wish, you can request a full-body pat-down instead of going through the walk-through medical detector. If you are having trouble communicating this to the TSA agent, ask for a pad of paper and write your wishes down.
Double-check the destination before getting on the plane.
In most cases, the gate agent will scan your boarding pass before you board, so you would not be let on the plane if it's the wrong one. However, there are cases in which systems go down or gate agents are in a rush – and in these cases, boarding documents are not always scanned. To ensure you do not get on the wrong plane, double-check the destination of the plane. This should be listed above the entrance to the jetway, next to the gate number. If you do not see the destination listed, do not get on the plane until you can flag down the gate agent, show them your boarding pass, and get them to confirm that you're headed onto the right plane.
Pack spare batteries in several different pieces of luggage.
Losing hearing aid batteries while you're away from home can be a nightmare. Pack a set in your checked luggage, another in your carry-on, and a third in your purse or wallet. This way, even if your luggage is lost and the batteries fall out of either your wallet or carry-on, you'll still have a set.
Download all of the smartphone apps you need before you leave.
At home, you may or may not need to use a lot of apps in your daily life. However, when you're hearing-impaired and traveling, there are a few you should download before you leave:
- An app that stores all of your reservation confirmations, so you can just pull them up and show someone rather than trying to communicate verbally.
- A dictation app that will pick up words another person is saying and turn them into text for you to read.
- An app that shows your flight updates in real time, so you don't have to worry about hearing announcements in the airport.
With the tips above, your travels should go more smoothly. Above all else, remember it's okay to ask for help. Most fellow travelers and employees at airports and hotels will be more than happy to assist you.