I travel with a CPAP, power wheelchair, TENS unit, etc. They swipe the CPAP down for explosives (no clue why) but leave the charger alone (you know, the box that can contain almost anything…). Since I cannot go through the scanner, I receive a pat down. It really is nothing. I am taken around the scanner to the side. They offer me a screen which I decline since nothing needs to come off (like pull up my shirt). They wand my front (a hand held device) with my arms out to the sides. Then I lean forward and they kinda scan down my back. A woman then pats up my legs (never near the crotch) then along the sides of the chair at my hips. I lean forward again and she pats down my back. She will also pat down my arms if I am wearing long sleeves. Even I have to remove my shoes but she will feel the tops of my feet. All of my medical baggage does not count against the limit. I have the CPAP bag, a bag with the chair’s charger and other medical stuff, and my computer bag. I rarely have to ask for assistance because they see me coming and take care of it all for me. It has become harder since now you have to remove stuff from the bag instead of just putting it on the belt. PITA because now instead of just the three bags and myself, there’s now 3 bags, 3 bins (shoes, computer, CPAP) then waiting for them to wipe the CPAP. I’ve not flown much lately so I’ve not got a routine down pat yet.
The best thing is to tell them ahead of time. Some airports have an agent along the line where you show them your paperwork. This is where you mention your medical devices. He/she will then either get someone to escort you through or point out who you are to speak to closer to the scanners. Be calm, professional. If you are traveling with others, have them take the rest of your stuff through so you can concentrate on you and the TSA agent in charge of you. Keep it simple and quick. They know the names of things (insulin pump, TENS unit, catheter) so keep it to just general terms. If they want to know more, they will ask. Showing them booklets will only confuse them and mess up their rhythm. Truly, unless you fit certain profiles, you will sail right through. If you need to, make a list of what is on you so you don’t forget anything.
I do not wear my TENS unit when I go through the lines. I keep that in my bag. If I need it, I’ll put it on. If it is a long flight, I put it on while waiting for it rather than try to wiggle around on the plane. Anything that you can do to minimize the stuff on you, the better. You can put it back on once you are through to the waiting area.
We read about the horror stories because those are what get the attention. Thousands of people with various disabilities and devices fly daily yet have no problems.
The other thing to remember is if you have any difficulties with any staff, ask to speak with a supervisor and if it is big enough (like pulling out a tube or damaging a device), ask to speak to the Complaint Resolution Officer (CRO) there is one on staff anytime there are people in the airport. Do not leave the airport until you have spoken to one. Once you leave, they can and will say the damage was done elsewhere.