Flying with diabetes && my pump

Hey everyone (:
Recently i found out that im going to be flying from Fresno, California to Oak Harbor, Washington.
Im not sure what to do about my insulin, pump supplies, needles, lancets, etc. Do i let the airport know in advance? or show up and ask them to put the insulin in a fridge for me? Talk to my doctor? Ill be flying by myself and i’d greatly appreciate your advice(: Thanks.

Just show up, but let the first TSA official know that you wear an insulin pump and need a hand pat down since most pumps don’t like xray. If you have a CGM put it in your carry on bag, I use Dexcom and that’s their recommendation. Put your insulin in a ziplock bag, like you would treat shampoo and other liquids, and put it on the top of your carry-on, sometimes they ask you to take it out of carry-on and place it in the tray with your wallet, shoes, belt, etc. Don’t worry about refrigeration, insulin handles room temp fine. Don’t use any frozen or liguid cooling gel packs which some cooling packs have, the TSA doesn’t like liquids or gels. I use a Frio pouch which has crystals that are soaked in water to keep my Symlin cooler, and TSA had no problems with that. I found that the pat downs are usually easy and respectful, but they will have you handle your pump in both hands and then they swab your hands for explosives, but they let you leave the pump attached. I did have one TSA patdown in a smaller airport that took about 15 minutes longer than my wife who went through regular scanning, but it was probably because they knew about insulin pumps but just hadn’t seen many and were just inexperienced and did a lot of conferring with co-workers. Just remember to keep telling each TSA person that you have a pump, they don’t often communicate that info down the line as you proceed through, especially the person at the xray scanner

By the way I live on an adjacent island to Whidbey so I assume, unless you’re flying military, that you’ll be transferring at SeaTac. Unless you leave the airport in between flights at SeaTac you won’t have to re-do the TSA there.

Good luck with your flight, I’ve found the TSA to be quite understanding about insulin and pumps.

You need not worry about your insulin storage. The American Diabetic Association (ADA) recommends that you store the bottle you are using at room temperature. You should store your insulin, syringes and other supplies in your carry-on bag. Just run them through the x-ray. Don’t ever freeze your insulin and try to keep it under 85 degrees. You shouldn’t have any trouble at all. You’ll have a great flight.

Thank you so much (: yes, I’m flying into SeaTac. They aren’t mean about it right?

Being diabetic and flying isn’t as bad as everyone makes it seem, that is, as long as you are prepared. TSA has guidelines on traveling with medical supplies on their website
Which can be found here:

I’ve had my fair share of flights for leisure and diabetes related conferences and this summer I had the chance to fly with my pod (like usual) as well as a recent addition to my treatment, a cgm.

Flying outof Detroit metro can be a pain because how they address those with D varies every single day, or at least every time I fly. Sometimes they get really suspicious, other days they let me skate by. I like to pack for their “suspicious days” because the one time I don’t will be the day where all hell breaks loose and I’ll end up missing my flight.

What I do:

  1. I have a typed note by my endo stating what I use and that it is required to keep on my person, signed by the doctor.
  2. Everything is gallon size zip lock bagged. There’s one bag for pump sites, one for cgm sites, one for etc-ketone strips, back up pump, batteries, unopened box of test strips for my meter, and one bag for glucose tabs. (I’ve had granola bars and juice boxes packed and had them confiscated, so I’ve learned to pack tabs, they don’t even second guess them.
  3. Wear medical id. Sounds simple but the one time I travelled without it I was questioned for 10 minutes compared to walking through with no problem. Of course, since mine is metal I take no chances and put it in the tray with the rest of my stuff to be scanned.
  4. Don’t be afraid. Show that you are scared or nervous and they will target you.
  5. Don’t be afraid to answer questions about what your stuff is. When I flew home from Columbia, SC The agents working at the time have never seen the omnipod pump or dexcom cgm, doesn’t surprise me as the airport had 12 very empty hangars. Of course, they stopped me and searched my stuff. As they were searching I provided brief education on the pod and cgm and answered questions as they came about. Why not provide education during the time they searched? I flew out of the same airport on a diff occasion and they knew what I was wearing and let me pass right through since they knew what everything was.
  6. At det metro, at one of the checkpoints they had 3 operating lines, 2 had the body scanners, 1 only had the metal detector. I planned it out so I went into the line with only the metal detector. Sneaky? Yes. Saved me a lot of time and questioning? Hell yes. So it pays to be aware of your surroundings and if you have the opportunity to not go thru the body scanner, take it.

I also emailed the customer service of the pod and dex, both said that they are safe to go through the body scanners. They prefer the devices go through the scanners than the X-ray machines, but the X-ray machine won’t hurt it.

Hope this helps

I think it depends on which kind of pump you have. Some pumps set off the xrays more than others. I have an Animas Ping and every time I’ve flown I have just walked right through the xray with no problems. I’ve never even had to mention it to anyone before. I keep my extra supplies in my carry on and also have never had anyone stop me. I guess the advice everyone else has given would be a good idea to follow because you can never be too prepared but I thought it might be comforting to at least hear another story about how easy it can be :slight_smile:

Good luck!

I keep my opened insulin at room temp in my meter case, and I carry an unopend bottle for back up in case of droppage, skunky insulin, etc. I use a lunch bag and I do use frozen gel packs/blue ice - and I have never had any issues with this with TSA at any of the airports I have been too. I also carry a couple of 4 oz juice boxes and put them along side the insulin in the lunch bag, and have not had any issues with this at all as of yet. All of my pump supplies, lancets, spare meter, ketone meter, strips and Glucagon I package in a see through plastic container (like a gladware container) and it is placed in my carry on. Have had no issues and it has never been further scrutinized other than the x-ray.

As for the screening - I also use MM, it won’t set off the metal detectors. I put it in my bra prior to getting in the security line. If they have a full body scanner, the MM recommendation is for it not to go through it - so you can declare it to the TSA person and request a hand pat down. My last trip after the new regulations for the pat downs, on the first leg, I told them I had a pump (the airport didn’t have a body scanner) and I was patted down. On the way home, they also didn’t have a scanner, and I did not tell them, placing the pump in my bra (without any tubing or sites visualized), said nothing to them, and I didn’t get searched.

If I am traveling alone, and it may be a long flight or if I have had some lows that day, I usually tell the flight attendant that I have D, just in case I have a bad low and can’t speak for myself. I do wear a medic alert tag, so it would be visible there as well.

Maddy, I don’t fly that often but I’ve never met any TSA that are mean, just the opposite they’re mostly quite understanding.

I’ve only flown three times since the new body scanners, just remember the metal detectors are different than the new body scanners. Metal detectors are not X-ray but the body scanners are and most pumps don’t like X-ray which is what the body scanners are. So, if your uncomfortable with the pat-down option for the body scanners, you’ll have to disconnect your pump. If, like me, and you don’t want to disconnect they will pat you down then swab your hands after they have you handle your pump in both hands but it’s no big deal. I just carry my pump in my hand, being very obvious with it right from the beginning telling each TSA person that I have an insulin pump.

I never carried a note from Doctor and never since 9-11 have any TSA ever asked for it.

You actually don’t even need to separate out your insulin because it’s considered medicine and therefore not part of the ziplock bag limit. i just slide all my insulin supplies through the scanner in their regular bag and never have had it blinked at. If the airport is using the full body scanners rather than a metal detector, disconnect your pump and hand it to the TSA agent. Do not take it through the full body scanner or put it through the xray belt scanner. If it is a metal detector – it’s fine to walk through with the pump attached. I just tell them I have it before going through.

Thank you soooo much. I am going to be nervous, because its my first time ever flying. and As it turns out ill be by myself, but ill be sure to answer their questions and what not. Where did you get your medical bracelet?? ive had Type 1 D for almost three (? i think lol) years now. and i still haven’t gotten one. My mom won’t let me go w/ out one and i have no idea where to get one that’s fashionable that ill actually want to wear. you know? haha. I was planning on just taking a the box w/ my supplies in it, but if it helps to put them in zip lock bags then ill do that. Once again, thank you(:

thanks! I have a MiniMed soooo. idk lol

So I should be able to put my un-open insulin in a bag with the gel packs and be okay with it? because im having issues finding out what to do with that. i was thinking of asking the flight attendant if they could put it in their fridge or something?? i don’t know lol i don’t think my flight will be that long. four hours tops i believe. Not too sure though. As for my MM. I’d be able to just walk through the body scanners without taking it off, and it won’t do any damage? im so confused on that part. haha

I flew from Las Vegas, where I live, to Miami, FL two weeks ago without difficulty. I showed them my pump and walked through the metal detector without a problem. They checked my hands with a patch designed to detect explosive materials. It was a simple procedure. A quick wipe of my hands then tested in a machine. The whole process didn’t take more that 2 minutes. I have flown many times and have never had trouble with any of my pump supplies or any of my meds. I have never carried Dr. notes or anything of that nature and never have been asked anything about what I carry. Regarding many diabetics concern about traveling with insulin it is my experience that it doesn’t require cooling. I live in Las Vegas and frequently play golf in temperatures of 100 degrees plus without any effect on the efficacy of the insulin. My pump is at my side 24/7 and I am certain that, in my personal experience, insulin is far less affected by heat than we have been told. Are there any others out there with the same opinion?