CGMS on the plane

Well, with the upcoming holidays, I’ve been thinking of my cross-country flight and how the beeps may not be a welcome sound for fellow travelers and such. I also remember something from the cgms manual about airplane travel, but I haven’t had a chance to look in the book. I use a Minimed. Anyone have experience with their CGMS on the plane? Do tell…

cheers and happy holidays everyone!


The manufacturer of my CGM (Freestyle Navigator) instructed me to remove the sensor, unlink the transmitter/receiver, and take the battery out prior to boarding the plane. FAA regulations, it said.
I did this on my flight out. But I noticed lots of people with their Blackberries and Iphones on after the captain’s warning about turning off these devices, and when the plane didn’t crash I figured I wasn’t going to cause any problems by leaving the device on during the return flight. And that’s what I did.
Selfish? Stupid? Illegal? Maybe. But I think the FAA regs have to be a little overly cautious; if the weak signal from my sensor to the receiver 2 inches away is going to interfere with the plane’s navigational equipment, then flying on an airplane is lot less safe than I ever imagined it was.
Maybe someone with some expertise on the subject can weigh in on why the CGMs should be off, but maybe the warnings are about as cautious as about everything else the FAA regulates - tray tables and seats must be in the upright position when landing, for instance.

Thanks for the response, fellow NW’er. We have similar A1C’s and similar diagnoses dates…cool!

I thought I remember the ‘rules’ being - disconnect - but after fighting for a year to get one, I don’t want to take away the benefits of wearing it during a stressful time like plane travel. I’m not much for abiding rules without question…only when they make good sense. This is especially true if it takes away a bit of diabetes-confidence management. I feel much more confident wearing it than when I don’t, as I typically have regular excursions, widely varying activities from day to day etc. I’ll let the decision wait for a bit to see if there are more personal experiences.


I have never disconnected or turned mine off–and I wear mine on vibrate all the time anywayso unless I ignored it it wouldn’t wean issueof others hearing it. I go low terribly easy while traveling–especially while flying (endo says mostly because I am one of those bearly phobic about flying)

Here is an article about traveling with diabetes supplies. It’s from the ADA web site, so I’d assume that they keep it reasonably up-to-date. It doesn’t mention any regulations requiring disconnection of CGMs. I would contact the company to see if any part of the process will harm the device and otherwise not worry about it. I wear a Dexcom CGM and I plan to just give them a call first.

No kidding - travel days or vacations play havoc with my bg levels, so that is when I feel I need the CGM the most.

As for inconveniencing other passengers who may have to listen to the sound of a beeping CGM? I guess I don’t worry much about that. I have traveled with young kids, so I have other potentially annoying things to manage on a plane!

i wore mine on the plane… never turned it off nor disconnected it… plane is still intact… and so is my CGM, and so am I… Sooo… the decision is yours. then again if there was a communications malfunction on plane… it might only be caused if EVERY person on board had a wireless device turned on… maybe that might cause a greater static signal… that’s just my guess. I am not any sort of expert on this whatsoever. anyhow…
i don’t think we should be made to forgo the use of our medical devices during flights. . i have a friend who chooses to disconnect his pump and throws it into the bin while going through security check points… i refused to disconnect mine. i told him he’s not making air travel any easier for us diabetics with pumps by showing security personel that he can so easily disconnect from insulin pump… our life support. y’all should stand up for diabetes as a medical condition requiring special consideration for our medical device needs. … just my personal opinion.
then again. nobody wants to be responsible if the plane takes a dive back to earth… with ourselves in it!.. so… discression is advised.

Does he actually throw away? his insulin pump? Wow! I find that hard to believe…

I’m definitely thinking along the lines of you. Discretion is advised, but I see no reason to believe my little radio frequency is going to cause a problem for the plane. I think I’ll just put it on vibrate so as not to make anyone else nervous. The beeping (which hopefully won’t be that frequent anyway) may just cause people to worry since it’s an unknown source and a different type of beep than a usual machine gives - and I don’t want to increase anyone’s stress level.

I’m not worried about my equipment - I know it’ll be fine. I’ve flown lots of times with my pump, so I’m familiar with the checkpoint process. It probably wouldn’t be as obvious if it was just the CGMS. I usually just wear it and go through the usual line, and tell them as I’m coming through that I wear an insulin pump. That usually works fine. Plus I do a lot of forced smiling to encourage them to keep on being friendly or get that way if they possibly can. ha ha.

Hi ! I don’t know whether you’re a member at yahoocgms, so I’ll copy my post (on this subject, about two weeks ago) right into here:

Re: navigator,airplanes, new software

— In, “Bob Kallish” wrote:
> She also told me that Abbott recommends that you do not wear the
> Navigator while flying in a plane. She said that the concern is since
> it is wireless technology it could interfere with the plane’s
> communication during takeoff and landing…

They have to SAY that to avoid trouble with the FCC and FAA, but you
shouldn’t actually believe it. Here’s the facts: Other wireless
devices, such as the 802.11 interfaces on PC’s, typically have
transmit power in the range of 20-100 mW (milliWatts). My Dexcom
Transmitter is a maximum of 25 uW (microWatts, that’s a thousand times
LESS). And that’s why PC’s can work 50-250 feet away from their
Wireless Access Points (latter figure is for 802.11n of course), while
our Transmitters and Receivers struggle to exchange data even 15 feet
away. (And sometimes they struggle just 2-3 feet away, if the signal
is going through your body and blankets instead of empty airspace.)

The FAA likes to use rules with “zero tolerance”, rather than fall on
a slippery slope of “how much is REALLY too much”. But in fact, our
TINY transmitters, in the passenger compartment, are totally
irrelevant to the airliner RF environment. Definitely just leave it
in. DO turn off the computer and cellphone, they’re much more powerful.

On a slightly related topic: I always tell TSA that I’m wearing medical devices, and request “hand inspection” for the Dexcom Receiver. (I don’t mention the pump, which has never “bothered” a TSA scanner before. If it ever does set off an alarm, I’ll just say, "Oh yeah, I’m wearing an insulin pump too, but it’s never caused an alarm before…).

This is told to the TSA rep right in front of the scanner at your line, the one who makes sure that all the big shoes are removed and boxed for scanning, along with keys and cellphones and etc. (NOT the “traffic cop” in front, who divides people into different lines.)

In Minimed’s case, you’ve manifestly got an insulin pump-- which inspires a lot less questions than my “mystery electronic thingy” Dexcom. I’d probably just wear a MM right through everything, with no special request to “hand inspect”-- just announce that you’re wearing an insulin pump. But do bring the R/T manual: So that you can show them what the Sensor is if they ask, avoiding a natural inclination on their part to tear it off first, ask questions afterwards. :((( Yeah, that would kinda ruin your flight, half of it lost in “warm up” time while you’re crossing 4 timezones and trying to adjust for the time shift while “blinded”.

The inspectors will be MUCH more comfortable, actually quite relieved, to see that you’ve even brought a manual with matching pictures just for them. Have a GREAT trip! Passengers are fine with a couple off beeps, just look 'em in the eye and say “medical device”.

DH, he meant “throws into the little bin with keys and cellphones and stuff”. OTOH, I would never expose the open end of my tubing to such a filthy little box-- hundreds of sets of keys, with hundreds of probably FILTHY fingerprints, have been there first.

Per below, though, bring the manual as protection against possible TSA “aggressive inspection” of your Sensor. They are doing randomized complete pat-downs, and you don’t want to be a problem in that case.

I haven’t had the chance to do airplane travel yet, just car travel. Don’t worry about the alarms, they shouldn’t be any louder than your other alarms. So set the tone a step lower if you’re concerned. People have so many beepy things on planes anymore, you won’t be the only one! I was told not to let your transmitter (or your pump) go through the X-ray machine (magnetic resonance - MR), but the scanner doorway and their portable scanners shouldn’t harm it. Enjoy your trip!

I don’t recall Dexcom saying to disconnect before flying. I actually am in the habit of disconnecting my pump before going through security - I actually put it in my shoe rather than the tray. I’ve worn it through and told them, but it always sets the alarm off (Dexcom 2020) and then delays the progress. Plus when traveling with co-workers I hate to slow down our collective progress. The Dexcom, however has never presented a problem. I just leave the receiver in my shoe with my pump and grab it on the other side. It worked without any problem on the plane. Since the Dexcom vibrates before it beeps I haven’t had any trouble with it making noise that could potentially annoy other passengers.