A pump question for frequent flyers

I know this has probably been discussed before, but I can’t find the thread. What do you pumpers do when going through security at airports? Do you keep your pump attached when going through the body scanner?

I’ve always detached my pump when I get to the front of the line, put it in a plastic bag and asked that it be hand-inspected. I’m rethinking this, as the last time I flew, they called someone over to check out the pump, then another person to scan my hands with the powder detector. Unfortunately, neither person was right there, and I was delayed for almost a half hour! And, ironically, I had just gotten a KTN number so I could go through the security check faster.

So I’m rethinking this. If it’s safe to go through the body scanner with the pump held in my hand, it’d be a lot quicker.

How do you pumpers handle security at the airport?

My experience has been to keep connected because I don’t want people touching my pump esp the parts where insulin is and will reconnect to me.

I hold it in my hand go through the scanner and they swab my hands afterward. I travel a lot and have not had any issues.

Years ago I had a pump fail by walking through the old type magnet metal detector so I won’t do that any more. If that was my only option, I would vote for a pat down instead.

I use the Omnipod, so the pump cannot be detached. I also have the US “TSA Pre” which means I go through a metal detector, not a milliwave scanner, and neither the pod nor the permattached G6 show up.

In other countries I’ve been through milliwaves with no problem. There are enough of us out there for the security guys to be familiar with T1Ds. The milliwave will show what is there so the pump should not be a problem, on the other hand it might be in a metal detector - I don’t know how much ferrous metal they contain, but probably not enough to set off a metal detector.

Bear in mind that “metal” detectors don’t actually detect metal; in addition to the Omnipod and G6 I have a large (6-8") titanium bar alongside my collar bone and it does not trigger the TSA metal detectors.

1 Like

I travel quite a bit, going through security in several countries (mostly Canada). In addition to my Tandem pump and Dexcom, I’ve got a titanium plate in my leg and I light up the metal detector whenever I go through.
I don’t detach anything and I don’t want them crating my devices.
I usually just elect for a pat-down and wand, since tgey end up having to do it regardless if I go through the metal detector or the scanner. I show them my pump but hold it in my hand during the wand-scan. I almost always get the swab (presumably for explosives?) and the process slows me down only a couple minutes. It’s really no big deal.
I was also caught with an orange juice box that I forgot was in my backpack. Thinking quickly I said “it’s for my diabetes” and they let me keep it! Shocker.

2 Likes

Thanks to you all. I’m going to keep it attached, and hope it saves time. I’m traveling with friends this time and we’re all tsa precheck, and I don’t want them hung up on my part.

Titanium isn’t magnetic so it won’t show on the magnetometers. They are kind of useless in the modern world because guns can me made of plastics and other non magnetic materials.
The luggage scanners look for high density to find other metals and they use chemical detection but nothing is fool proof.

Sometimes my dexcom sets off the scanner sometimes it doesn’t, but my pump is too big to be missed so if I hold it in my hand there is no alarm

So, folks. Flew out of Logan in Boston yesterday. Went through precheck, get to the machine, and it was an xray. Forgot to take my pump off, but told them it was on me, and the machine beeped. So then they made me take off my shoes and go through again, and it beeped again. Then, I had to wait for security to walk me over to the body scanner (which was on the regular non-precheck line) and go through that. Then I had to wait while they got a female tsa agent pat me down, wand my pump and wand my hands. 20 minutes later I was through security.

This happens EVERY SINGLE TIME I fly. What a waste of $85 for precheck. Grrrrrr!!!

Being TSA Precheck helps and I always opt for the scanner even if they are routing everyone through the metal detector. I tell them I have a pump and a CGM and most agents understand what that means. They tell me to rub my hands on the pump and then do the hand swab and test. They don’t seem to care about the Dexcom G6 except to see it which means I always put it on my stomach instead of on the upper front of my leg when I know I am going to fly within the next 10 days.
BTW - we fly via major airports like MCO, MSY, various west cost cities and KOA so we encounter agents who are very busy and experienced.

I use precheck, and will be flying soon. My last flight was a few years ago. I did fine on way out, put pump in plastic bag and they hand checked it.

On the return trip, I had extended to a later date and didn’t realize my precheck had expired by that date. Had to go through non precheck, but wasn’t too bad.
However it was in January, with bad weather, so a very long day and delayed flights.

I really don’t mind them wanding me and my pump, but it seems that there’s never a female tsa agent nearby to pat me down, so I’m stuck there waiting for at least 5 to 6 minutes, and then it’s a pat down or body wand, then pump wand, then hand wand which has to be read. If I really think about it, though, precheck does save me a lot of time that I would have to spend otherwise waiting in line. So glad I don’t have to travel for business anymore, though. Doing this constantly would send me over the edge!

@Ruth4 et Al:

I always carry a clean ZipLoc bag in a jacket pocket. Just before reaching security, I take my pump off, put in in the ZipLoc bag which, along with my phone, go in my jacket pocket and then my jacket goes through normal X-ray while I go through either the magnetometer or millimeter wave scanner depending on what they are using at that time and airport.

I’ve never had then hand check my pump with this approach. I also don’t think that my pump has ever been disconnected for as much as 5 minutes.

I’m not a fan of waiting for or undergoing the pat-down search.

I’m no more concerned about exposing my pump to a bit of X-ray radiation than I am my phone. After all, me, my pump, and my phone are all going to be exposed to extra cosmic rays once we are up in that aluminum tube …. Yes, I know the pump manufactures say not to put their pump through airport machines, but no modern electronics are terribly susceptible to X-ray damage.

Note: no pump in an MRI, however, because of the intense magnetic field.

Happy travels,

John

When I was flying for business, I would get so pissed at the lack of TSA agent not knowing what to do on ANY MEDICAL ISSUE. One was once going to throw out my bag with ice pack for my insulin stating I couldn’t care them aboard . Then when I started to weat compression stocking for lymphedema it started all over again.
I ended up having a sign printer up , which I placed on my laptop say “ This person as a Medical Condition and request to be hand scanned”

@John_S2 : Great idea. I used to unhook, put the pump in a clean plastic bag and ask that it be hand inspected, but still caused a delay. Tried last flight to walk through the scanner with it held in my hand, and they told me to put it back in my pocket, walk through, and then still had to be wanded and tested for explosives. Unfortunately, having been on a bus tour for 12 days, I no longer have any clean and empty plastic bags, but I will try that in the future. On the other hand, I’m flying out of Jackson Hole, WY today and the airport is so small I may not have any problems.

Really though now a days. They all know what insulin pumps are. I never take it off and I just hold it in my hand.
I travel a lot and the only swab my hands and then I walk off.

2 Likes

So, finally back home. Got wanded and tested both ways. 1st trip…they wouldn’t allow me to hold the pump in my hand. 2nd trip I detached, put it in a plastic bag with my purse, and still got stopped.

Turns out, there’s something (I have no idea what) on or in my left upper outer thigh area that sets off the alarms. I do have artificial knees, but they know that and that’s not what’s setting things off. I’ve had surgery in the left groin area but, as far as I know, no metal was put in, no sponges left behind. I have absolutely no clue what’s causing this. I’m seeing my doc for a 3 month checkup on Thursday so I’ll ask him if he has any ideas.

That’s weird I never get stopped when I hid it. And I would never put it through the X-ray because it’s way worse for it than the metal detector magnets.

I fly a lot. The TSA are the ones who told me to hold it in the first place.

An “X-ray”? Do you mean the metal detector? That is normal, indeed invariable, TSA pre. A pump will, likely as not, set it off; too much ferrous metal. The omnipod doesn’t, it’s pretty just plastic, copper and lead.

So far as I know pumps aren’t an issue with the scanners; they see them they know what they are. Certainly that is the case for the Omnipod.

So far as TSA precheck metal detector fails are concerned in the past for me it has been a wand, a swab and no problem, but if it isn’t working for you just go through the scanner. In that case they can see, immediately, everything you have attached (three separate items in my case, possibly more if I put on my really sexy underwear.)

1 Like

Leave the pump attached. YOU DO NOT. have to go thru a body scanner. Demand to be hand scanned. If they revolt and demand that you be scanned. STAND YOUR GROUND. Demand a supervisor . Remember most of the TSA people are no better then rental cops. Also s the same thing if your caring a refrigerated vacuum bottle for your meds.

I wear an Omnipod Dash and CGM. The Dash has never set off an alarm. I was told, however that the Omnipod PDM (Personal Diabetes Manager - dopey name!) could not go through the scanner, so I ask for it to be hand-swabbed. This delayed me in a Portugal airport where the insolent security guard was convinced it was a mobile phone and took ages to get it swabbed. Does anyone know whether the PDM can indeed go through the security scanner?

John, the problem isn’t that I don’t want to go through a scanner. The problem is that I paid for precheck to save time, but it’s not saving much time because getting hand wanded means I have to go over to the regular line area and wait for a female tsa checker, and then wait again for the explosives test person. I’m 76 years old and spending up to 20 minutes (and once over a half hour) standing is super uncomfortable due to major srthritic problems in my back. I have difficulty standing that long. Plus…I’m getting crankier the older I get, lol. It’s just a major annoyance for no good reason.