Help! Anyone flown in or through the UK lately?

We’re leaving for the US on Saturday and change planes (and therefore go through security again) at Heathrow. I haven’t flown for a year and a half, since all the extra restrictions have been put in place. At Heathrow they actually make you put all “extra” asthma inhalers (i.e. anything but the ONE you will use during the flight) in your checked baggage. They say “needles” are allowed, but only if they’re needed for the flight. Otherwise they will be confiscated and not returned. Huh?? I have an insulin pump and no insurance in the US (I live in Germany now) and hell if I’m putting my 3 1/2 weeks’ worth of pump supplies in checked baggage!!! Also, it says, and I quote: “Insulin, epipen and hypodermic needles and medicines must be tested and verified by the passenger.” They say elsewhere that you may be required to taste liquid medicines to prove they are real. How the hell do they expect me to “test” insulin and a glucagon shot??? I guess they think everyone can just take an extra dose of whatever they’re on or inject themselves with an epipen just like that? Come on, now! What the heck? And no where on Heathrow’s site does it mention anything about pumps. You see, the guidelines aren’t the same as when flying in the US and not the same we’ll encounter when leaving at first from Germany. They’re crazy.

So, anyone flown through Heathrow recently (since last fall, after the liquid terror threat incident) with insulin, syringes or pump supplies? How was it? I’ll have 4 vials of NovoRapid, a penfill of Levemir, a syringe and a month’s worth of pump supplies. (Plus a doctor’s note in both German and English saying I need all this stuff.)

I’ve flown through Heathrow and other BAA Airports several times since the new restrictions and it is honestly not as bad as the information you can find online may lead you to believe. I’ve gone through with less hassle than my travelling companions who were not carrying potentially dubious items!

In all the amount of time I’ve spent standing in security queues watching others go through, I’ve never actually seen anyone be asked to test a liquid (may relate to the science behind the regulation being dubious in the extreme!) Things like insulin and glucagon, though, are anyway very, very unlikely to be questioned. The security staff at Heathrow are well trained and generally know what this stuff is. If you meet someone obstructive, politely ask for a supervisor. Keeping the labels on the boxes - including for the penfill - is useful (it is required by US security). Keeping the caps on unused bottles also verifies that they haven’t been tampered with.

You must remember that all liquids need to be in quantities less than 100ml and placed in a resealable plastic bag not larger than 20cmx20cm - 1 bag per passenger. They provide these free of charge at the entrance to the screening area. Technically you are not required to place medications in the plastic bag and are allowed a separate plastic bag, but in practice, unless you have huge quantities it is probably easier to do so. I’ve managed to get four boxed vials of Humalog, plus a back-up vial of NPH, 3 glucagon kits and emergency hydrocortisone kits, plus contact lenses into said bag. To save space you can put things in not in their box, but keep the boxes and labels with you as well. As for sharps, you are allowed to carry what is necessary for your trip - not just the journey. So you can carry what you need for the entire time away and I’ve certainly never had a problem doing so. Don’t draw attention to your sharps. Pack them together in another plastic bag or toiletry case inside your carry-on bag, so they can removed easily if security do want to inspect them, but don’t take this bag out of the carry-on bag or mention the sharps. Just put the bag through the x-ray and see what happens.

The biggest problem you may encounter is fitting all your supplies in a carry-on bag the prescribed size. Again, technically you are allowed a second bag for essential medical items. You will require the clearance of your airline and a letter from them stating that they have approved this before security will let you through with more than one carry-on bag. (Some transfer passengers, as you will be, are not subject to the one bag rule, so check carefully with the airline.)

Pumps are usually well recognised at airport security here. I’ve learned though that it is best to have it in a visible spot. I once forgot to remove mine from my bra and they would not allow me to remove it there and then, but insisted on taking me to a private room for a proper inspection! I now have it on my waistband. When they give you the “remove your cell phone” line just say it is a medical device. If you meet a security screener who doubts that, just ask for a supervisor.

The regulations are meant to sound awful. The idea is to scare people a little. The bottom line though is that who you are/what you look like is more likely to have an effect on whether you get stopped than what you are carrying.

Hope you have a safe trip, without security headaches.

Thanks, Caro. I assumed they just can’t be as crazy as their website says they are.

It’s funny you mentioned the labels on the boxes. I know this is required in the US (and totally normal in the US), but in Germany there simply is no such thing as a prescription label. All you get is the medication itself in its original packaging from the pharmacy with nothing - zip - zero - that proves the medication was prescribed to you. Because of this, I made photocopies over the past few months of each prescription before I took it to the pharmacy so there’s at least a copy of something with my name and the medication’s name (mostly all in German, though, lol). Plus the letter in English from my doc (which they say is necessary in the UK and unacceptable in the US, lol.)

Has your pump actually ever set off a metal detector? I always wear mine inside a baby sock, held in place along the waistband of my fat-taming tight undies. Holds the pump firmly in place all day. I hate the clip or the holder thing because they both poke me when I sit down. Anyway, early last year (before the latest security freak-out) we actually flew BA from Seattle to Germany via Heathrow and I didn’t say a word at either airport and just kept my pump where it usually is and walked right through the metal detectors, no beeping. (MM715, btw) 'm hoping for that again! Don’t tell unless you have to is my motto, too. Not a word about pumps or infusion sets unless questioned!

I am a little amazed, though, that you got all that stuff into one of those little bags! Mine is stuffed with a tiny hotel bottle of special soap, foundation, mascara, an inhaler and a glucagon shot. Oh well. I’m going to just carry my insulin in a Frio wallet anyway. It cushions it a bit and protects against an accidental placement next to a heater. I guess they’ll have to look at that separately. Hmpf.

Anyway, thanks again :slight_smile:

I went to England in August, not through Heathrow though, but Manchester. I found everyone to be very helpful. I was a bit nervous as it was my first time travelling with my insulin supples. I did tell the security people I had sharps and they said that was fine. I had everything in a separate small bag, not in the little plastic bag and they put it through the X_Ray machine in one of the boxes. I had everything for the trip in my carry-on luggage, a letter from my doctor and prescription labels but I wasn’t asked for them. I will be going through Heathrow in December so hope it will be just as easy.

I have. It was fine. No problems. I have never had a problem, before or since the restrictions. I didn’t have a doctor’s note and it was no problem. you will be fine.

My husband, daughter and I flew into Gatwick in July of this year. He wears a pump, and he had no troubles at all. I don’t think his pump even set off the metal detector. Hope all goes well for you!



Heathrow was easy. They didn’t even ask about my extra Frio pack full of insulin in addition to my plastic bag of liquids. My carry-on packed with diabetes stuff wasn’t an issue either. My pump actually set off the metal detector for the first time ever (MM715) and the lady who wanded me was very nice. I told her it’s probably my insulin pump and asked if she needed to see it and she said, “only if it’s easy to get to”, lol. It was, so I pulled it out and started to take off the baby sock I keep it in and she didn’t even need me too. As soon as she saw the size of the object and the tubing sticking out that was enough. I was a little taken aback, actually, by their nonchalance and the way they were just pushing people through security at record speed. I mean, I don’t want to be hassled, but it almost seemed they weren’t really checking things closely enough. Strange.

The Germans questioned me about the insulin and I told them what was in the Frio bag and that was enough. My pump didn’t set off the detectors there. However, there was another type 1 in the next lane over who seemed upset because they had searched all her medical stuff and her pump had set off the detector. I saw test strips and a glucose meter in her bag and heard the guard say something about “Insulin-Pumpe” as we passed. (Imagine that… two type 1’s with pumps going through at the same time.)

So, anyway, I’m in America now safely with all my stuff :slight_smile: