First time flying with both a dexcom and pump

We’ve flown several times as a family since my daughter’s diagnosis 6 years ago. We are familiar with what to do with the dexcom and the precautions we take through x-ray etc. She is new to pumping and this is the first time we’ve flown with a pump. Can anyone provide suggestions for us as to how they deal with their pump going through security?

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If you can get thru the metal detector, it won’t hurt the pump or CGM. Avoid xrays and “backscatter” scanners. that’s the one that rotates around one’s body as u stand in the middle of the chamber. We end up getting pat downs (also known as “you’ll get felt up, repeatedly, by the TSA agent”. It’s disgusting and yet another reason I know longer like to fly).

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Tandem has this letter for you to carry explaining that the pump can’t go through an x-ray machine: https://www.tandemdiabetes.com/docs/default-source/general-guides/ml-1000524_a_print_info_card_tsa.pdf?sfvrsn=2
Probably not necessary, but worth printing and carrying around.
I get pat downs. I don’t like waiting around for there to be someone available to screen me, but I don’t find the pat down itself to be a big deal.
My guess is that if your daughter is a child, they will not do a pat down, but you should prepare her for the possibility. You can (obviously) be with her the whole time. (And, I realize Dave44 is being jocular, but just to allay any alarm, there’s no feeling involved, just patting with gloves over clothing.)

I know they say no xray, but I disconnect my tandem pump, put it in my purse and set it on the belt. I also have a dexcom that shows up on the full body scan, they ask about it and occasionally swab it and then let me go. I have never had a issue. I travel all the time, domestic and international. I have been asked maybe 3 times, only here in the US and I say “I am diabetic” the TSA says “meh” and off I go.

Perhaps I am just lucky, I feel like they are more concerned about my kindle.

Has anyone been required to show a letter? I have not. Do you think they would even notice if it was signed my Dr Seuss? I kid, but seriously anyone?.

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She’s 18 and has been patted down each time we fly. We don’t let anything go through x ray or scanner that’s electronic so it makes sense to carry a Ziploc bag and just pop the pump in a bag to be swabbed with everything else. With a steel infusion set she’d set off the metal detector I suppose.
Is there anything in the way of pumping while in flight I need to know eg cabin pressure affects or anything?

Cabin pressure does not affect pumps at all, to my knowledge (or in my experience).
Being seated for a long time makes my blood sugar creep up. I try to move around the cabin as much as possible and generally set a higher temp basal.
For what it’s worth, I’d make sure the pump was adequately full and that I had a good infusion site before boarding. I wouldn’t want to refill a cartridge or change infusion sets in flight. Also, be sure to bring a couple syringes and a vial of insulin as backup.

Okay. Good tips thank you.

Dexcom G6 System User Guide268 Appendix B: Security and Air Page 267

"Travel PRECAUTION Going Through Security Check Point

When wearing your G6, ask for hand-wanding or full-body pat-down and visual inspection instead of going through the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) body scanner (also called a millimeter wave scanner) or putting any part of the G6 in the baggage x-ray machine.

You can wear the G6 for the walk-through metal detector. If you do, use your meter for treatment decisions until you leave the security area.

Because we haven’t tested every x-ray and scanner, we don’t know if they damage the G6.

Not sure what kind of machine it is? Be safe – either ask the TSA officer, request hand-wanding, or request full-body pat-down."

.

WRONG. Cabin pressure causes extra insulin to be pushed into your body at takeoff. please stop giving medical advice based on your experiences. For those really insulin sensitive like myself it can be very dangerous.

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Regarding X-ray damage:

I know what Dexcom and Tandem say: avoid X-rays. Me, I take my Tandem X2 pump (that doubles as my Dexcom receiver) off just before TSA … put in a plastic bag and put in in my carryon that WILL go through the X-ray machine. Do you do anything different with your phone or laptop? Has anyone ever heard of a phone dying after going through an X-ray machine at the airport?

My research tells me that if you are on a 3 hour flight, you (and your pump) absorb more ionizing radiation during the flight than your pump did going through TSA.

To me the “TSA strip search” is more likely to be problematic. I don’t have a kid, but my inclination would be to subject a pump to 0.1 mRem of radiation rather than to submit my kid to the TSA hand pat down.

That’s my $0.02.

John

Note that this study is relevant to pumps using a syringe driver delivery method. It is only marginally relevant to the Tandem X2 pump because its delivery method is different. In the case of this pump, the only case where over delivery may occur is through expansion of bubbles in the tubing, or gas coming out of solution in the tubing. The volume of the tubing is obviously much smaller than the volume of the cartridge, hence the effect of depressurisation will be proportionally smaller as well. My son has over 20 flights using his T-slim and apart from the very first flight has never bothered to disconnect, and never had any problems with over or under delivery. He started on the pump in very early honeymoon with TDD of about 3 units, almost all of it meal bolus, so that has your “really insulin sensitive” covered.

I recently flew and based on another discussion, I put my pump and dexcom in plastic bag. Then handed it to TSA prior to going through metal detector. No alarm for me going through metal detector and they swabbed the pump and dexcom after I went through. Prior to this trip, I would wear devices through metal detector , get alarm, then get pat down and pump swab. It was great to skip the pat down and get through much quicker. This was with TSA precheck, so not sure if non-precheck works the same.

@MM1:

I like that solution! I also get TSA PreCheck, but prefer anything that avoids the delays and inconvenience of the TSA pat down/strip search. Thank you for adding that as a good, viable alternative.

John

Another suggestion… keep track of your pre check expiration date (on tsa website). My recent trip was fine on way out, and was denied precheck on return. Thought boarding pass was mis-printed, but they forced me to go through other line. What a pain, and don’t recall if they accepted the plastic bag. But they were correct, as my pre check had expired, and had to renew online.

@MM1:

Another good point. It’s easy to lose track of those expiration dates … and, to me, TSA PreCheck is a huge win for us T1Ds.

Thanks, John

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Until last week at airports I insisted on pat downs (to avoid going through the usual scanner with my pump.)

Last week I flew domestically (not in TSA’s territory) and for the first time I (with pump) went through a new-ish low-energy full body scanner scanner. I was assured it was OK for pumps.

I have not travelled internationally for a few years, so I do not know if these low energy scanners are common. I have not seen them mentioned on the pump manufacturer’s website (tandem).

You do not just walk through it - you stand still while within it.
I was in it with my pump temporarily clipped onto my shirt, so it was visible.
The pump triggered alarms, so I still had to be manually searched and have the pump tested for traces of whatever.

Then, after that happened, the staff member who was doing the manual checking told me he was T1. He was not on a pump. He was using MDI.

In all of the excitement of finding another T1IDDM in the wild and discussing different insulins while getting scanned, searched, patted down and swabbed, I left my treasured belt behind.