New Changes When Flying

I've not flown since last year. With all the stuff that happened at Christmas, I'm wondering about some of the changes. I've been to TSA website and it says that there have been no changes to flying with an insulin pump. But I keep reading about these new full body scanners. They are essentially x-rays, if I'm not mistaken. How should we handle that with our insulin pump? And what about my MM CGMS? I have always worn it, but had it turned off until I got to my destination. It never sets off the machines, and since I keep it hidden, it's never been questioned. But if there are full body scans, does anyone know how they would handle that CGMS? I keep my in my thigh so it's not like I can take it off or show it to them to let them know what it is.

Does anyone fly on a regular basis that could let me know how they are handling these things?

I noticed something odd when flying a few years back…

I had to change my infusion set when I arrived at the hotel after a 3 hour flight and I believe that as a result of the pressure difference in the airplane my old infusion site ended up spraying blood & bleeding like crazy for a few minutes.

Not sure if this has happened to anyone else but it was pretty weird… I’m just glad the hotel didn’t charge me for the stained sheets…

Thanks for explaining John, I thought there was something really wrong with me… kinda looked like a murder scene on those crisp white sheets…

I guess my main worry is about the full body scanners. I’m not sure I’ll be going through an airport that has them, but you aren’t supposed to expose your pump to x-ray’s are you? And what about if they “see” my CGMS on the full body scan and want to know what it is. I don’t mind telling them, but I worry about having a strip search or something.

I don’t know about the full body scanners, but when you approach security, tell them that you have an insulin pump and CGMS and I would hope they know if you can go through or not. I’ve flown a few times w/ my pump and this last time I set off the metal detector. I had my hair in a metal clip, so the TSA agent thought it was probably the amount of metal in both added up to be too much. They are used to the pumps, so worse case you have to have them swab it (and your hands) for explosives (which they did automatically in London, and randomly here in the US).
I’ve set the metal detector off both times I’ve entered Congressional office buildings, and then randomly when I was entering MA state office buildings (rarely, but not never). I really think that they randomly set the metal threashold on the detectors because there is no rhyme or reason to when I set them off.

I alert the TSA to my pump and I’ve only had an issue a couple of times. I flew at Thanksgiving, alerted them to my pump, the looked at it and waved me on. No issues. Not sure about the full body scans. I don’t think they are as widespread yet, so you might not need to worry

Good thread…I’ll be flying from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale, going on cruise, and then flying back to Boston from Rome. I was also wondering about the body scanners and if they had been alerted to what a pump site looks like. I’m also wondering if there’s more radiation from the new x-rays than from the old walk-through scanners? I’ve never had a problem with my pump in walking through the older scanners and, if the newer screeners are about the same, I would think they wouldn’t affect the pump either?

Also…does anyone know if one can take juice boxes (4 oz) in their carry-ons? It’s what I prefer to treat lows with, but if I can’t do that because it’s over the 3-oz limit, guess I’ll have to use something else. I do carry hard candies with me, but they don’t work as fast.


The website says any foods/beverages needed to treat a medical condition are allowed, so I would say that the juice boxes are safe. By the way, Logan has special lines at security for people with medicines, baby food, etc. I was through that line faster than my friends were through the regular security line in the international terminal. Keep your eye out for it.

The body scanners don’t use X-RAYs at all. They will have no effect on your pump or CGMS. They will, of course, show up on the scanner and may also activate the metal detectors. Not a problem but just a few extra min. of time at security.

The manufactures of several pumps say the xray machine used to scan carryon can kill you pump.

I’d also remind the TSA agent that you are allowed unlimited amounts of juice to treat lows. I had a TSA agent take all but 1 of my juice boxes last time I flew. I let her, because I was on my way home. But there is NO LIMIT and I will remind them of that next go around.

I just read on the TSA website. They actually do have x-rays.
"Backscatter technology projects low level X-ray beams over the body to create a reflection of the body displayed on the monitor."
And it also says you do not have to do this. But " Passengers who do not wish to utilize this screening will receive an equal level of screening, including a physical pat-down."
It also says "Additionally, passengers with joint replacements or other medical devices that would regularly alarm a metal detector often prefer this technology because it is quicker and less-invasive than a pat down."
But it still makes me wonder if TSA agents would know enough to know what CGMS is to say having to have a pat down or strip search anyway.

I like this tread…In July I will actually be flying from D.C. to Jacksonville, FL. D.C. is a VERY high security airport so I’m kind of scared. I will have my pump by then and don’t know what they will say or what is going to happen. I’ve been researching and everything. I guess me and my sister will have to show up extra early to the airport just in case they need to pull me to the side.

If the airport has body scanners (rather than metal detectors, or “archways”) then both items will definitely show up. I wear the omnipod and a navigator CGM and have flown w/ both recently and had no issues. My airport has body scanners, so I tell the TSA attendant that they will see 2 devices (and I point to their general location on my body). After the scan I step out and tell them more about it if I need to. My receivers for both items go through the x-ray machine. If you explain what the device is on your leg (be short w/ these answers though…don’t talk about it “transmitting a signal” or anything like that) and that you can’t remove it, you’ll be fine. Enjoy your trip!

body scanners definitely use low-dose x-rays. metal detectors do not.

I see there are two types…my bad.

The TSA has tested two technologies, including “millimeter wave” (MMW) technology which bounces radio-frequency waves off people to construct a 3-D image within a few seconds. TSA also temporarily leased four “backscatter” units which use X-ray scanning, although the MMW method is currently faster.

Thanks for the tip.That’s what I was worried about. I may also take the book that came w/ my CGMS, just in case they ask, I can show them a picture of it when I’m explaining it.

Hey I re-read my post and that may have come across as snobby or something–sorry about that! That wasn’t my intention. I went to school for radiography and now I teach it (x-ray, CT, MRI, that kind of thing) and so I’ve read several of my student’s papers in the past year about the scanning technology. So when I saw your post I thought I’d clarify.
And you’re right the MMW technology is faster, but there are less of those machines currently in use. I hope they find these to be just as effective, and move to these in the future (b/c most ppl don’t think about their “lifetime dose” when thinking of x-rays). While the dose is extremely small w/ backscatter scanners, it’s still a dose.

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.

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np! I have had experience with the MMW scanners but did not know about the x-ray based ones. Your reply was spot on.