Overseas Travel, Airport Security and a Pump

Hi guys,

I’ve got a trip to Ecuador and Argentina planned for May and this will be my first time traveling with my pump. Does anyone out there have any tips for getting the pump through airport security here in the States or overseas? I’m a little concerned that since I’m flying through Panama and Ecuador, they may not be as familiar with insulin pumps and may be more likely to demand I remove it.

Anyway, I’d really appreciate any advice you can offer!! Especially how to say “I am a diabetic and this is my permanently-attached, unable to remove, insulin pump.” in Spanish :).



I carry a statement from my doctor and I have had no problems getting through security, even with carrying juice.

Hi Lizzie, I have had the pump for 10 years and have flown a lot for work, mostly national trips. I have rarely had a problem, and usually walk right through the metal detector without it going off. They do ask about the pump when they see it (often I will have it clipped to my pants and have my blouse or t-shirt untucked to cover it, just to avoid the question), but I clearly say “insulin pump” and my experience is that they wave me right through. When I flew to England 5 years ago they did stop me and ask me a few questions about it, and I think they swabbed the pump quickly to check for explosives. I do have to say that over the past 10 years it seems that most Security personnel have come in contact with the pump enough to know not to mess with it!

Great topic. I am a new pumper as well and had wondered what was easier… showing and explaining, or just simply unattaching and putting it through the scan with my carry-on bag. When traveling domestically and internationally with needles and insulin bottles, I have never been questioned when putting them through the scanner. I’m all for the quick way through security and wouldn’t be too happy if wearing my pump through opens me up to more (and longer) scrutiny by the TSA.

I’ve been to China 3 times wearing the pump and have never had any trouble whatsoever. Most of the time I just pull it out of my pocket to show them, then they motion at me to take it off and put it in the tub to go through x-ray. The only trouble I have had through going through overseas security was when they were trying to figure out what my blue ice was. They kept asking me if it was milk, and finally just waived me through when we couldn’t communicate with each other. This is why I’m buying a frio for my insulin on my trip this summer.

I recently went to FL from Newark Liberty…I set off alarms when I went thru w/ my aCCU-CHECK sPIRIT. They took me aside, I waited for the female attendant, and I got a total pat-down in front of everyone…It was embarrassing, and I’ll unplug next time,and put it in a plastic bag (Iuse quick-release MM sets).

I’ve always attached mine to my bra and walked through the metal detector. One of the security folks at the Seattle airport suggested that after I set it off by leaving it in my pocket. She said that if you keep the pump along the center of your body while walking through the detector that it won’t pick it up.
She said that way I can avoid the pat downs and the extra wait while they try to find a female agent.

I have traveled a lot with my pump and rarely had any problem. I NEVER take it off! I tell them I can’t. I was told that putting my pump through the X-ray could cause damage to the pump— so I never wanted to find out!

I have found that INSULIN is a pretty international word-- so I just repeat that over and over again :slight_smile: And as others said most security people know what the pump is by now-- even in countries where it is not so common. Sometimes I have noticed that they seem really excited to recognize the pump (probably cause they were taught about it in training, but rarely see it here in Eastern Europe). Usually they prepare me for a “pat-down” search, but since my Cozmo doesn’t even set off the medical detector, they usually just wave me through.

I often try to have my infusion set on my stomach when I travel-- once when a security guard was insistant that I had to take it off, I just showed him my stomach and that I was attached to this little machine and that was enough info to get him to just wave me through :slight_smile:

I also have a statement from my doctor, but I never have had to show it.

OH, but I HIGHLY recommend ordering a diabetic meal on international flights! It’s usually not low carb, but you get it served first and it prepared separately so you usually have fresher salad and some fruit instead of dessert. Also, especially when I’ve traveling alone, I like that the flight attendants know that I have diabetes…

i don’t know, i told them before i went thru, and showed them…maybe it’s because it’s new york city…you can see i’m in my mid 50s…it’s crazy

The biggest problem I’ve had with airport security was taking off my “I have diabetes” bracelet to pass through my first Homeland Security screening. Nowadays, I remove the bracelet way before I get to the screening. (The bracelet is something I ALWAYS where.) Otherwise travel with a Mnimed pump and CGMS, plus all my diabetes stuff & other medications as carry-on has not been a problem. It never leaves my side since do not want to risk losing any of it as regular baggage. A loss like that would ruin any travel very quickly.

I was taught a trick recently when going through a metal detector (the person working was the one who told me about it!). Tuck your pump in the waistband in back, and it won’t set the alarm off. I tried it and it worked, so I will try that when going through the airport this summer.

Great tip on the loaner pump! Does anyone know if Dexcom does that too?

Yikes!! Such a grabby security guy.

with disetronic (accu-check spirit), you get 2 pumps…in 19 years on pump, i’ve never had to go on shots because of equipment failure…i’d never switch because of that!

you gotta said SOY DIABETICA Y ESTA ES MI MAQINA DE INSULINA Y NO ME LA PUEDO QUITAR and if still giving you problems you said POR FAVOR ENTIENDAN

well, I first got my disetronics h-tron in 1989. i remember the first few years a couple of times i got an electronic error, and sometimes i’d have to switch to pump # 2, and the next day they would send me another second pump. so i’d always have an extra. one time my husband and i were in the BVIs for a sailing vacation, and i dove in the water, and when i looked at my pump, the window was filled with water! i didn’t know i had hairline fractures around where you put the battery. so i switched to pump #2, and called them. the next day they sent me another second pump - to the British Virgin Islands. The new model i got last year, the Accu-check Spirit (same company,new name), has been great - it has all the bells and whistles, and also uses regular AA batteries. It comes with a backup extra pump, and a palm pilot (which i don’t use). I have nothing but the highest praise for everyone who has answered the phone at all hours of the day for the past 19 years at this company. I just wish my skin wasn’t crapping out on me - lately i’ve only been able to keep an infusion set in one or two days at most - i used to be able to go 3 or 4. it’s really getting me depressed

Lis, I had a layover in Toronto back in 2002 and experienced a similar situation with a security guard. At the risk of stero-typing…what’s with the Canadian security employees? Granted, I was traveling just a few weeks post shoe bomber drama, but I had a letter from my endo and it wasn’t even my pump that set off the alarm…it was my belt! He went balistic and tried to yank my pump off my hip, but I stopped him and asked for a female security officer to scan me.

The only real trouble I encountered once I got to my destination was adjusting my basal rates to the current time and overcoming the highs and lows from being in the air for 11 hours.

Good luck

I always, always take my insulin pump off while I’m in the security line and then when I’m on the other side of the metal detector, plug myself back in. It’s obviously not true that the pump is “permanently-attached, unable to remove” because we do it all the time when we shower and swim. I always tell people who travel to just take it off, because it saves the time of getting patted down if you do happen to set off the alarm. I travel about five times a year and have put my insulin pump through the X-ray machines dozens of times and it does absolutely nothing to it. If you can put your laptop through it, you can definitely put your insulin pump. To Kristin, I’m not sure who told you that you can’t put it through the machine, but you can.

But just in case security asks you questions about your medical equipment in your bags, I would bring a Spanish-translated letter from your doctor explaining that you have diabetes. That should cover you.

Here’s what the Animas site has to say about x-rays:

As noted above, you can wear your insulin pump on the plane. However, most insulin pump manufacturers recommend that you do not expose your pump to x-ray equipment. Request a “walk through” or hand wand inspection.

The Cozmo site says something similar (“Never expose the insulin pump directly to x-ray beams”). It’s good to know that the x-ray is not a problem in case I am ever in a situation when it is necessary!

But I am used to going through security with it on (and it has never set off the metal detector)-- so I guess it’s just one less thing to remove, when you already have to remove your belt, shoes, coat, etc. It’s good that we can choose whichever way is most comfortable!