Advice needed: Delta Airlines took my carry-on, 7 hr flight no insulin

In Nov, I took a flight from D.C. to Portland, Oregon. Flight was late and they were in a rush to board us. To shave minutes off the boarding process, the ground crew took all the carry on luggage from the 20 or so people yet to board, including mine. There was no pre-announcement, they just grabbed the luggage from our hands and gate checked it. Note: they were not rude, just a little aggressive in getting those bags.

So of course, Murphy’s Law, I had a pump set failure 1 hour into our trip. My kit was in my luggage, which was now in the belly of the plane. Seven hours later, I get to Portland. My blood sugar is over 500 and I feel like crap. I changed my set in the baggage claim, went outside and vomited and then got in a cab for home. I vomited again on my front lawn. Got inside and took a big bolus of Fiasp. About four hours later (about 1 a.m.), my sugar was down.

What would you all do in this situation? Call Delta out on their luggage grabbing and explain to them the ramifications? I know I should have pulled my kit out but I got separated from my carry on so quickly. I didn’t have a lot of time to react.

Should I let it go? Or??

Thanks for your help!

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Complain, loud and clear. Delta needs to change their procedures. Baggage is cold. Everyone should have been given a chance to retrieve items from their carry on. They knew they were late from the start. No excuse for your treatment and the other 19 passengers.


I’ll do believe the airline cannot separate you from required medication.
I would stand up and make a fuss.
and demand access to your meds.
Or demand the plane be put on notice to divert there flight path.

I never allow what meds i need to leave my person


They would have needed a swat team to get the bag from me - call and tell them they put your life in danger - put the post on their facebook page.


Did they take ALL, or just items for overhead storage?

I have learned to keep supplies in bag that will go under seat, and was thankful when one time there was no room overhead, and had to gate check my other item.

I think I would have objected, or ask to remove medical supplies if forced to separate from luggage.

I would definitely complain. That easily could have resulted in DKA, adn would have for many of us. On the other hand, I suspect if you had said (shouted) that your bag contained medication or medical supplies they would have let you keep it.

I always bring two carry-on bags, one backpack and one other, if needed. I keep insulin and supplies needed for the flight (or that are sensitive to cold) in the backpack, which easily fits under the seat. I have only once had the other bag taken (which is also fairly small), but all it had was food and backup infusion sets.


I’m sorry that happened… but to be a realist all you had to say was “I can’t give you this bag it contains my medications” and that would have been the end of the discussion… again sorry it happened though, I’d say live and learn…


To those of you saying that I should have said that I need my bag because my supplies are in there — that’s the heart of my question. I should have said that but it happened so quickly, I didn’t have much time to consider the implications of them taking my bag.

PS: I’ve had T1 for about 35 years, so sometimes I get it right and sometimes not.


I keep most of my medical supplies in a separate bag that goes over my shoulder. Kind of like this one.

They literally would not have been able to take it from me and I would have put up a fuss if they tried. I would only keep backup, backup supplies in a carry on suitcase. Keeping some supplies in every bag you are carrying is probably a reasonable route. Did you have insulin with you and just no way to give it? Or was all of your insulin in the bag that was supposed to go overhead?


My favorite back back too! It goes anywhere. In crowded subways, in cars. It may sound minor, but the way you can swing it around front or back it makes things so much easier. It has three large pockets plus dividers in side. It can start around
$30 of course and go way up.

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Yes, I have been at busy airports on packed flights where they took all remaining OVERHEAD CARRYONS and checked them.

They will still let you keep an under-the-seat-in-front-of-you carryon but they must not have made this clear.

I’m not saying we always need supply sets in TWO carry-ons but I always travel with one set in my carry-on and emergency stuff (vial and syringes and meter and strips) in my pockets. (Transplanting if need be after getting through security). Yes my pockets look ridic.

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I have never been on a all-carryons-must-be-checked-now call where they made that clear at all.

I think they fear if they started to announce this distinction, that it would slow boarding down.

P.S. Yes there are still lots of puddle-jumper flights where there’s no overhead carryons for anyone. While these tend to be shorter flights I’ve been on some that were delayed to be as long as 5 hours.

I’d definitely reach out to Delta to let them know of your experience. I will be surprised if they offer you anything other than a sorry, better luck next time. Unless you told the crew that you had life sustaining medication/equipment in your luggage and needed to keep it with you I am not sure what your defense would be. As others have said, it’s best to put your supplies in your handbag or backpack which can be stored under the seat.

I am glad that you were able to recover and didn’t need to go to the hospital.

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It was my bag for the overhead compartment. To add insult to injury (literally) when I got to my seat, the compartment above my head was nearly empty.

In my 20+ years of taking injections, this wouldn’t have been an issue as I always had my kit on me. With a pump, it’s different. For me, to carry around an extra infusion kit in my purse is pretty bulky.

On balance, it was my fault. I should have snapped to it and remembered that if they take my carryon away, I will be separated from my medication. Even though it was really my fault, I still want some frequent flyer miles or something for barfing at the airport with BS that was about eleventy-thousand.

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A description of the event posted to their FB page may well get you a quicker response than anything else, because it’s not what they want other people to see there–it’s all about the brand. I’ve resorted to that with a D issue before and it’s remarkable how fast the social media manager will act when you reach out in that space.


This is more pump plumbing education for me than a suggestion for you: if you had a syringe in your pocket, you could’ve used it to draw some insulin out of the reservoir and deliver it (semi-regularly like every hour or so) where it’d be useful?

Do different pumps have different plumbing schemes, some which would let you pull insulin out of the reservoir, and others that you can’t?

I’ve heard stories about pens getting jammed/stuck, and in the past 40 years I’ve even encountered one or two defective plastic syringes. Like the rubber plunger part was stuck, or the white plastic handle immediately pulled out of the black plastic plunger part. So even the low tech backups may occasionally encounter problems.

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I can confirm we have done this successfully with the Tandem t:slim X2.


I would let the airline know. While technically they are not at fault they could have at least ask if you had vital medications in the bag before they took it.

While the thought of needing your D stuff didn’t enter your mind, they had no way of knowing, a policy of asking before grabbing on their part would have been nice.

In this instance everyone is to blame and no one is to blame. I would at least tell them, it might save someone else the same fate. And if they offer you some kind of compensation, well, that’s just icing on the cake.

That leads me to my next question.

I wonder if I would’ve had the gumption, if I was stuck on a plane with a pump with insulin in it but it wasn’t delivering, and a steadily rising BG in the 400+ range, to ask the flight staff if there was any emergency med kit on board the plane that would have a syringe I could borrow, or another diabetic on the plane with a spare syringe, who could help me out of a tight spot.

I mean I wouldn’t want to stir up any trouble if I thought I could go just a few more hours. But I’ve been through DKA (almost 40 years ago, in the week before diagnosis) and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

When I was a teenager it took me two whole weeks in the hospital to really get back from that DKA. Now that I’m much older, and supposedly much more educated of the hazards of DKA, I think I’d be able to work up the gumption to at least ask for help when I need it.

If I didn’t even ask for help in the 5-hour flight, I’m not sure I’d go back and demand anything from the airline. It’s not like they were watching my bg rise throughout the flight.

Here’s the problem. My insulin was in my carryon. :sob: