Pump Protocal at TSA Screening--what do you do?

So pump users, what do you do?

I have been traveling a lot for work, and will not go through the new security machines. MiniMed told me that if I did, my warranty is void. I called to ask. But the TSA folks kept at me about how "Pump users walk through these machines all the time. It won't hurt the pump." (eye roll)

I pointed out that the sign says I can request a pat down for a medical device, and I smile and wait patiently for my female screener, who goes through the whole "everybody does it" harange again.

Do you go through?

No. My guess is that my pump would be fine but I’m not going to take the chance. If Medtronic says no, I will follow their advice not listen to a TSA agent.

I am lucky that I can still avoid the new scanners at the airports I fly out of the most. Minneapolis has certain checkpoints that have them and others than don’t. So I go to the old-style checkpoints and breeze through with my pump tucked in my waistband. It’s only set off the metal detector once in my 8 years of pumping. The terminal that I fly out of in Phoenix doesn’t have any new scanners so I get through security just fine.

I went through the new scanners once with my Cozmo pump with no ill effects but I no longer do so. The few times I've asked for a pat down, things went smoothly.


I take my pump off and place it in my carry on. Than when they ask me what I am hiding in my pocket, I tell them innocently "nothing". When that doesn't satisfy them, I pull down my pants in front of god and the world and show them the CGM transmitter on my hip while they cringe in horror at the spectacle I just caused. Is it wrong if I find it amusing?

I do what you described, Spock. The MM pump manual and website actually say to the question about wearing your pump in the FBS:

No, we have conducted official testing on the full body scanners and have found that some may include x-ray. It’s hard for security personnel to keep up on all the different types of medical devices that can go through an airport body scanner – you are the expert on your medical devices. So remember, you aren’t supposed to go through any machines that have x-ray, therefore you must remove your pump and CGM (sensor and transmitter). To avoid removing your devices, ask for a pat-down or alternative screening process

Also, to the reply where the pump was removed and sent through the security xray belt, this is not okay for a MM pump.

I don't make a display of my pump or my diabetes and have never had an issue getting through security with my pump or supplies.

So - NO, I do not go through the full body scanner no matter what the agent says. The metal detector is fine though.

I'm still fairly new to all of this. Within the last month, I've flown several times after being "grounded" for awhile. TSA agents seem to want me to go through the scanner stating that no xray is involved. I just say NO and that I will be subject to the pat down. It takes a good 15 to 20 minutes from start to finish, so I have to alot for it.

See this story of a high school student traveling through the Salt Lake airport with her Animas Ping. We need to be insistent that our pumps not be subjected to xray.


Just got back from a pretty intense international vacation. While traveling, I had my own pump (which I was wearing), a back-up pump, and all my supplies. I always carried with me a note from my doctor describing the things that I have to keep on me at all times (insulin, pump supplies, syringes, juice). However, in the course of traveling 4 flights and getting through 6 separate security lines (both here in the U.S. and abroad), I was never once asked for the note or question why I had any of the items in my bag.

When I got to the front of the line, I informed the security guard that I was wearing a pump and also had a spare insulin pump that needed to be hand checked. I go through metal detectors wearing my own pump. However, I DO NOT subject either pump (my own or the one borrowed from Minimed) to X-rays. This means I DO NOT send the spare pump through the x-ray machine and I do not go through the backscatter x-ray scanners wearing my own pump. If the airport uses a backscatter body scanning machine, I simply ask for a pat down.

I had few issues. The only issue I had that annoyed me was a TSA agent here in the US insisting that I could wear my pump in the backscatter x-ray scanner. I showed her the Minimed insert which clearly states that the pumps should not be exposed to x-rays and she just said, "Well, I have seen other people go through." I explained to her that the x-rays could cause the pump to malfunction and could result in someone dying quickly if a whole lot of insulin was dumped into them at once. I explained to her that our pumps generally contain 3-4 days' worth of insulin, and that if all that insulin went into a person at once they could die. I was nice/curteous, but emphasized the "death" part.

Arghhh!!! Please don't do that!! Your carry-on is x-rayed and this is really bad for the pump. The metal detectors should not harm the pump, but x-rays very well could!! I spoke with two Minimed reps and someone from the support line and they all stated that metal detectors were ok, but x-rays were definitely NOT ok. So, those backscatter x-ray machines they recently started using in airports are NOT ok. If you do remove your pump, you should hand it to the TSA agent so that it doesn't get directly exposed to x-rays. (Although, I personally don't agree with this because once the pump is out of your sight, someone could mess with it).

I LOVE it! I understand that TSA is "protecting us from terrorism," but they are SO rude. The attitude was disgusting.

My endo has also advised me against taking off my pump during security screening. The concern is that I could either get separated from my pump if pulled for additional screening or the pump could get stolen or tampered with while off my person. I always just tell people it is a medical device that CANNOT be removed.

We always must remember that the TSA stands for "Thousands Standing Around". Of course they will tell you that the x-ray machine is safe, because they really don't want to do their job. If, in the rare case that they do, they choose 88 year old ladies to pat down, rather than those of us who wear medical devices to keep us alive.

Really, if an insulin pump could be a bomb, would I wear one? H*** No! All one must do is to opt out of the x-ray scanner and not allow pumps to be subjected to the x-ray scan. It is expected that when one opts out, that the screening will be done promptly in a simple and respectful manner. Any less requires us, as the flying public, to scream as loudly as we can.

The TSA is a very visible and heavy drain on our nation's tax reserves. If we are saddled with the thing, we need to demand the very most in professional treatment, not a bunch of argumentive slugs who do not want to do their job, and pay attention in their training.

Brian Wittman

I ask for a patdown and the female agents have always been more than kind. I will not go through the full body scanner.. No, I will not take a chance on harming a $5,000 device. Minimed says that the new scanners may harm the pump, so I take them at their word. I go through the metal detectors , yes, but not the scanners. And I have never felt coerced to go through them.



Just got back from a trip to the west coast and opted out of the FBS on both screenings. I wore my pump through the metal detectors and handed the agents a bag of insulin, CGM sensors and test strips and asked for hand screening. I don't get my testing supplies x-rayed either because they obviously work through magic and who knows what x-rays will do with that? It was a little more of a hassle in Newark than in Seattle but really not too bad in either airport. They did tell me that "lots of people go through the scanner with pumps on." Are they trained to tell people this? I politely refused, cited MM's instructions and had a letter from my endo, which they didn't want to look at.

And yes, to RyanD, when I flashed my slightly chubby belly with infusion set and CGM to the guy doing the pat down, I figured he was more embarrassed than me.

ha ha, these flashing skin gigs are cracking me up. Next time I fly, I am putting my set on my bottom. No one has ever asked to see my infustion site. And the TSA probably says that because of all the pumpers who just go right on through the FBS. After the pump messes up - well THEN those folks who just sailed on through that FBS call the media!

What really annoys me is the TSA agents telling people it's "OK" to go through the full-body scanner. As happened with that teen in Salt Lake City recently (she was told by the agent to go through the scanner), it's hard to refute the authority of a TSA agent when going through security. TSA SHOULD NOT be telling people what they can and can't do with an insulin pump. Doing so amounts to medical advice and TSA agents are not medical professionals.

Interesting. I never thought about the spare pump. I only take mine overseas, and it just goes through with my carry on. Guess it has been xrayed a lot.

As far as the rest of the gear, I do not even talk about it with TSA. It just goes through the xray, including my meter and back up. I don't even put the insulin in the 1 quart plastic bag---in all my travels, I have never had any problems, except the "all pumpers go through the all body scanner....." AND no one has ever asked to see my letter from the doctor, EVER...not even when I flew two weeks after 9/11....

Thank you, Karen, for finally clearing up how puzzled I feel whenever this thread comes up. Everyone seems to say, "No, I don't go through the scanners, I ask for a pat-down" and I always wonder, "why don't you just remove your pump and hand it to the agent?". So now I see I can either do that or keep it on and get a pat-down. (No thanks!) I am flying for the first time with my pump in August and I'll just hand it to the agent. That seems the easiest to me!

Zoe, pretty much anything you hand to a TSA agent will be run through the xray machine. While I'm certainly not a fan of the "pat down", it's the only option we've got to keep our equipment safe.

Wear your pump and the transmitter and tell no one.
Your pump has almost no metal in it and will not set off the detectors.
I find it much easier than reporting it to them.
If they do ask to pat you down, Tell them it is an implanted medical device and can not be removed.
If you remove it and they examine it it is no longer sterile and then you have to change everything out.

I would never put it in carry on to be scanned unless you take out the battery first.

But there is no reason to do it, We are allowed to wear them and we do not have to declare them unless asked.

Quite frankly, I love it! :)