Air travel with insulin pump

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by susierat, Sep 18, 2017.

  1. susierat

    susierat Earning My Ears

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    My question is not 100% Disney related. Who on here has traveled by airplane with an insulin pump? My DH was told specifically when he got his pump that he should never subject the pump to a full body scanner or x-ray machine. He always has to get the full body pat down because we can't risk the pump malfunctioning because we exposed it to a machine. Any of you with a pump know that they are very expensive. How have you handled this situation? Is there a trick we have not figured out? He has no issue with entering the scanner but how do we get his pump through security without having to be hand searched every single time. It is a huge hassle and I feel so bad for him dealing with it. If we can get to our destination by automobile we will just to bypass the drama and drive!
     
  2. marcyleecorgan

    marcyleecorgan DIS Veteran

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    It's airport security, they have to search you. If he can't go through the X-ray machine or the metal detector, the only other option is the patdown.

    As far as I know, there is no special passphrase or trick to bypass TSA ; even those security pre-clearances won't help. If you had your own private jet like a celebrity, there would still be some form of TSA poking about your cabin and aircraft. ;)
     
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  4. gap2368

    gap2368 DIS Veteran

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    yes, the only thing you can do is a full body pat down, if you do not want the other things or if you can take the pump off and ask them not to put them in the scanner.
     
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  5. susierat

    susierat Earning My Ears

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    He can go through the machine. The pump can't. I am not looking to bypass security. You might need to re-read my post.
     
  6. susierat

    susierat Earning My Ears

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    We have tried that approach and were quickly told that he could not remove the pump to go through security. I am just hoping to find somebody with personal experience with this issue not just opinions of how we should handle it.
     
  7. gap2368

    gap2368 DIS Veteran

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    I have personal done this a few times.

    I do one of two things I say I can not go though scanner or meter decetoer and they do a pat down or I disconnect and say this can not go though exray and they hand exspect it wipe in and my hands and put this in something What pump do you have
     
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  8. susierat

    susierat Earning My Ears

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    Thanks for a real response, not just an opinion! His pump is Medtronic brand. We did attempt to disconnect once so he could go through the scanner and they would not let him. Perhaps we should try being a little more firm about it. The most common thing we hear is "people take their pumps in the scanner everyday" That is frustrating because they have no idea how much money it would cost to replace it. He would be more than happy to have his hands and pump swabbed if he doesn't have to endure all the other patting.
     
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  9. gap2368

    gap2368 DIS Veteran

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    I have had no problem with the TSA at all. sorry your husband has, the times I took my pump off I did so a little before ( like 3 people before the scanner) and just handed it to the TSA and said this can not go thought they took it from me I walked thought they handed it back to me had to step off to the side and wiped my hands and the pump. I have walked through the meter dector with my pump. I do not like to do this a lot but I have. since you can go thought meter detector is fine the full-body scanner is a no-no.
     
  10. anorman

    anorman Greetings from The Great White North

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    My DD14 uses an insulin pump (Medtronic). We just tell them this and they take her aside and, yes, she does get the full body pat down and for a teenage girl that is quite invasive. However, she takes it in stride as part of air travel and knows she can't avoid it.

    The worst experience that I have had with airport security was in Orlando actually. As usual, we informed the agent that she was using an insulin pump and couldn't use the xray machine. They took forever to get a female agent as we stood on one side of security and she on the other....that must have went on for 10 or 15 minutes before they actually got to her. They asked me to stand by and observe while they did the pat down in full view of everyone....a veeeerrrry thorough pat down. I know they have to do this but even knowing this, it seemed a little over the top to me. My DD was quite flustered by the time it was done as it was so extremely invasive. To top it off, we were travelling with a travel pump as a backup which they had to take and examine. Understandable. However they went off with it to do so and then misplaced it. After speaking to 6 - 7 people, they finally located it after 10 or 15 minutes. Totally unacceptable when dealing with a piece of medical equipment worth over $5000.

    Usually it is just another little hitch but this time around, it was a very stressful experience.
     
  11. marcyleecorgan

    marcyleecorgan DIS Veteran

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    All right, I will. It's not an "opinion". I *do* travel with a number of medical devices! When we had an infant, there were more than there are now... ;) Got to love when they want to screen the bottle, the formula can, the breast pump AND give me a little squeeze to ensure I wasn't misleading them about breastmilk!



    It *has* to be screened each and every time, there is no way around this. Be your best advocate, as @gap2368 and @anorman are saying: before you get to the counter, have all your other stuff ready-and-up-there, hand them the pump and explain it cannot go through the machine as instructed by your doctor.

    If they have to wait on you to explain, unhook or take up their time, of course they are cranky about it. I have experienced a world of different treatment between having my shoes off early, holding my baby out, asking 'what do I do now?' and following their directions exactly, and having a cranky face while I muttered and messily unpacked all over the counter and grumbled that TSA is the worst thing ever. That gets you aggressive patdown screening. Or three trips through the process just to see if you'll break down and admit guilt to something.

    If you are polite but very very compliant, it tends to go all right with the TSA. Remember... very very compliant. No attitude that this process is uncomfortable or invasive, no impatience. Otherwise, they happily exercise their right to search your entire person, make you miss your flight, and generally be difficult.

    If driving is an option, I would definitely consider that option, especially as you are feeling frustrated by the TSA security process in the airport. Personally I would MUCH rather take a flight and fill out a little declaration card to take through Customs, rather than subject myself to the game of 25 Million Personal Questions that the land-crossing border guards ask. They have the right to ask these questions and they SAVE your answers for when they ask you again! If they don't match up, you get a full interrogation. Questions about my taxes, my employment, recreational habits, destination, length of stay, etc. In the airport, all that the Customs guards care about is my declaration card and its potential income value because it's easy to deduct, "Plane came from Orlando. Bet they are coming home from WDW. Bet they have some souvenirs."

    TL;DR: Nobody escapes the clutches of the TSA :D
     
  12. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    What does it mean, that they wouldn't let him? They wouldn't let him take it off? They wouldn't take it to look at it?

    I'm as modest as a teen girl (you should have seen me as a teen) and I just don't find it to be invasive. Have you yourself experienced it? And I'd rather have it be out in the open; wouldn't you?

    MCO despises those of us who won't/can't do the scanners. It is what it is. At least you were there to watch over things; they totally separated me from my luggage for the 15 minutes the guy was whispering that he needed a female assist.
     
  13. Marie_P

    Marie_P Earning My Ears

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    My son is 5 and since starting his OmniPod insulin pump last year, we have flown 10+ times. All of which he has kept his pump on his body and his PDM has gone through the belt scanner. We have never had an issue.

    We only do this because the first time flying post-pump we were not aware of any potential risk to his devices. He also wears the Dexcom CGM and it has never been adversely affected either.

    You can call 'TSA Cares' and notify them you will be traveling with a pump and do not want it to go through the scanner. They will ask what flight/date/time you reserved and will make arrangements for you. They recommend calling a week prior to travel.

    You can also try calling the manufacturer and find out what their air travel recommendations are.
     
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  14. Seattlehasnodisney

    Seattlehasnodisney Earning My Ears

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    I know this thread is a month old but this topic hits home for me as I fly frequently and wear a pump and CGM. Medtronic specifically says their pumps cannot go through body scanners or Xray but the metal detector is ok. The information is a available on their website.

    I can't count the dozens of times I had a jerk of a TSA agent argue with me that my pump is just fine going through the scanner, even when I attempted to show them a printed copy from the manufacturer saying it can damage the pump. Honestly, 90 times out of 100 it might not damage it, but I'm not taking that risk in order to satisfy their bullying me into the scanner. It resulted in a pat down for every trip unfortunately and usually 10 to 15 minute wait for them to even acknowledge me opting out.

    About a year ago I signed up for TSA precheck and it was the best money I ever spent. My pump hides in my pocket and doesn't set off the metal detector. I'm through the line in 5 minutes. This has been my most successful way of avoiding all of the annoying TSA shenanigans.
     
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  15. Seattlehasnodisney

    Seattlehasnodisney Earning My Ears

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    Also for a short while (when I was not wearing a CGM that couldn't be removed) i would just take off my pump and specify that I needed this item hand checked. It cannot go through Xray. And then just went through the body scanner. This worked out better than opting out and waiting for a pat down but still at times resulted in a disagreement or confusion if the TSA person insisted it pass through Xray on the belt.

    Of course this extra tidbit is invalid if you are wearing the CGM that you can't easily disconnect since that can't (or shouldn't) go through a body scanner either.

    If you can do precheck... do it! You'll be so glad you did.
     
  16. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

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    If you are considering applying for TSA Precheck, these TSA FAQs are helpful: https://www.tsa.gov/precheck/faq

    It’s important to know that:
    - not all airports have Precheck and, even if they do, the Precheck lane might not be operating at all times
    - your airline needs to be a participating airline that can print the Precheck information on your boarding pass
    - Precheck doesn’t guarantee expedited screening. TSA uses what the FAQs call ‘unpredictable screening’, and says all passengers will be screened. Exactly what the screening will be depends on the TSA procedures at that airport at that time.
     
  17. pxydst

    pxydst Mouseketeer

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    Ok I am in the process of getting my Medtronic 670 ... I take off the pump and hand it to the TSA or do I put it in a bin on the conveyor belt and have it go thru the X-ray machine? I can not get my CGM because of back order from plant in Puerto Rico.... but when I do get it then I will have to go the pat down lane right? And if I pay the extra money thru TSA and get the pre check I just walk thru if the airport has it correct?
     
  18. gap2368

    gap2368 DIS Veteran

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    no it can not go thyought the x ray thing

    https://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/customer-support/traveling-with-an-insulin-pump-or-device


    Insulin Pumps, Personal CGM and Security

    • You can continue to wear your insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor (CGM) while going through common security systems such as an airport metal detector as it will not harm the device or trigger an alarm. Do not send the devices through the x-ray machine.
    • You need to remove your insulin pump and CGM (sensor and transmitter) while going through an airport body scanner. If you do not wish to remove your devices, you may request an alternative pat-down screening process
    • Notify security screeners that you have diabetes, that you are wearing an insulin pump and are carrying supplies with you


    Also, the CGM was on backorder way before the hurricane hit PR I have been told that if you are getting your pump today then you will get your CGM sometimes early next year. I have also heard some people getting everything through a third party supplier. so you might want to try this if you can. GOod luck with everything
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
  19. Seattlehasnodisney

    Seattlehasnodisney Earning My Ears

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    I walk through the metal detector each time without issue since I have done TSA precheck. If you do want to remove it and hand it to TSA tell them it must be hand checked no Xray. It's still annoying and they will swab it for explosive residue but it beats the extra invasive pat down.

    If you're wearing a sensor, you can't really avoid a pat down without precheck unless you want to roll the dice and just go through the body scanner. Medtronic does not recommend that.
     
  20. bladiator

    bladiator Disney on my mind

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    I feel your pain. I do not have one that needs to be connected to my body, but I have an Omnipod so only the pod is attached and the PDM is wireless to it. Regardless, the PDM (and everything else I own) goes through the regular x-ray conveyor belt.

    I have also told TSA early on that I didn't want my insulin going through the x-ray and they gave me the same "everyone does it". So I just acquiesced. To date, I have not had any issues with that. It has not ruined any of my equipment, neither the disposable pods (although if I'm really paranoid, I'll just remove it and replace it once on the other side of security) or the PDM. I have also seen the information online (my endocrinologist never told me this) that you shouldn't allow it to be scanned, but I don't really think those doctors have ever taken these items through the scanner.

    I would hate to see you have an issue though by taking advice saying to just go through. I would research it more for yourself and ask your doctor to explain if there are studies showing that it has adverse effects on the devices (or has actually seen this happen him/herself).
     
  21. Jen_in_NH

    Jen_in_NH <font color=deeppink>waffles and snow seem to go t

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    My son wears omnipod and dexcom, we’ve always asked to have his medical supplies hand searched rather than risking things going through X-ray, and TSA has been good about it. Since he’s young, they didn’t pat him down. Now that he’s 10, we’ll see how it goes next month
     

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