Woman’s insulin confiscated by airport security

WRITTEN BY: Jordan Dakin

A UK airport’s security team is under scrutiny after taking possession of a woman’s insulin for inspection and failing to return it.

Jayne Knott, from the city of Hull, alleged that on April 10, members of security at Leeds Bradford Airport confiscated her insulin and blood glucose monitor before she boarded her approximately five-hour flight to Cyprus.

The scene was purportedly “chaotic,” and Knott told BBC that she was “patted down and scanned” after it was brought to attention that she was wearing an insulin pump. Security then took her insulin and blood glucose monitor to inspect and swab them, and Knott did not check to see if they had been placed back into her bag. It was not until she had already boarded the flight that she noticed she had not gotten her insulin or BGM from the security team. It is unclear if Knott made a point to push for getting her supplies back before the flight left the airport.

Knott believes she took the appropriate precautions and wore a lanyard to specify her medical condition. She was distraught flying having left behind the medication that she needs to survive, and claimed that she has “always been so careful” to keep her insulin close by.

“I really feel like not flying abroad again because of what’s happened unless the airport security staff do something to change their procedures to allow additional time for us to go through and explain the situation with regards to the equipment that can’t be scanned,” Knott commented.

A spokesperson for Leeds Bradford Airport asserts that procedures are currently under review, as is the event in question: “We would like to apologize to Mrs. Knott for any inconvenience caused and have also been in direct contact with Mrs Knott to try and reunite her with the medical equipment.”

On April 19, Knott tweeted that she was reunited with her insulin and supplies and that she hopes the situation “helps to improve security procedures at airports for diabetics and people with hidden disabilities.”

This instance calls into question airport practices and protocols for people with Type 1, as well as the overarching lack of awareness of the needs of T1Ds in the public sphere. Airport security could be more informed about the ways they impact anyone with chronic illness as the lack of information surrounding T1D must be taken into account.

For those traveling in the UK, specific protocol for hand luggage and contents states that travelers must carry appropriate documentation from a medical professional for medications and equipment. Containers may be opened by security staff and equipment often requires separate screenings.

In the US, the TSA also outlines specific procedures for those with medical conditions going through airport security. Travelers are asked to separate out their diabetes-related medications before entering the checkpoint line. Passengers wearing insulin pumps can go through metal detectors or be screening using imaging technology, but can ask for a pat-down if they’d prefer.

In 2011, a pregnant woman in the US alleged that TSA Agents confiscated her insulin supply.

Earlier this year, a UK woman created a downloadable Medical Device Awareness Card after her son was stopped by airport security due to his insulin pump.

That’s just nuts. I’ve had my pump swabbbed many times by TSA. I simply hold it and they run their little cloth over it a few times. I’d NEVER give up my pump. I’d miss the flight before I did that. Sounds like a lot of mistakes all the way around.


I like the idea of the UK Medical Device Awareness Card.

1 Like

It sounds like she had her pump. I think she was missing her insulin vials and meter.

1 Like

good catch

1 Like

Part of the reason I would not fly etc anymore. Dealing with those people who think they can do whatever with no consequences.

1 Like

I think the title of this thread is a bit misleading. I don’t know that I would say her insulin was confiscated.

A security person not putting it back into her back, and her not checking to confirm it had been put back in the back is not the same as them confiscating it.


Yea, the confiscated part is misleading, probably because of a possible lawsuit.
It is unclear whether she made a point of asking before leaving??? That doesn’t make sense to me at all?

When I traveled I made sure everything important was in my bag after being checked, actually they unloaded everything and just “threw” it back in. I had to pack it back into the bag. Lol…I was over prepared. But I suppose if you are in a hectic situation and if it was like LAX it was very hectic you could miss or not remember to check.

About 10 years ago when I was first diagnosed, I had to have a letter from my doctor and endo stating that I was a T1 diabetic and required insulin. It took about 10 minutes to clear security, sign forms and have all my supplies checked. Most times I was patted down and scanned for explosives.

To avoid this scrutiny, I only carried a meter through security and all other supplies were put in cargo luggage. My son then lost all his insulin when his bag went missing and he had to get insulin from the local hospital.

Now days, all I do is say “I am a Type 1 diabetic and have sharps and insulin in my carry on bag.” I empty my pockets, placing my meter, a vial of NovoRapid and a syringe in the tray and have never been asked to produce the letter. I only fly within my state of Queensland, Australia and flying interstate, I expect the procedure would be different.

After I stopped wearing my Canegrowers cap, I rarely get called out for the explosive scan.

1 Like

That’s mighty generous - that is

Actually it is the same

How do you NOT give back insulin unless it is intentional?

1 Like

Amen. Getting felt up by TSA is not my idea of a fun time and it has happened more than a couple of times. They are far more intrusive and personal in their pat-downs than I remember in years past. Totally disgusting.

1 Like

@Tony24 Because forgetting to put it back by TSA or by her is not the same as it being confiscated. Confiscating to me would be you can’t take these items with you and that is not the UK’s policy. Forgetting is easily done as it gets pushed aside and not loaded back in. This has happened several times through the years at the grocery store to me! Things don’t get into the grocery bag that you bought!


Who ever did not put it back is diabetic or has a diabetic friend or relative - this is guaranteed -

This is not a can of tuna at the shoppers

1 Like

I also carry a letter, and have flown all around the world a couple times in the past 30 years and never ever been asked to produce it.

I did learn from crossing the US-Canada border regularly in the 1990’s, that pointing out that you have sharps in your bags or pockets is very much appreciated by the front line folks. Highly recommend this.

1 Like

Stuff left behind at security checkpoints is incredibly super common. You’re already a little flustered by all the stuff you have to repack and it is incredibly easy to forget anything that’s important. The screeners can flub things too and especially with a complex set of rules they have to follow they can forget common things that are outside the strict rules they have to follow.


I travel international at least twice a year and have NEVER experienced this. I do not believe security would take the time to “confiscate” a bottle of insulin and a meter. It sounds like she was subjected to extra search procedures and in the stress of the moment forget her belongings.

Worst security clearance for me was at Heathrow airport, an extra 30 mins for additional screening because of a forgotten bottle of sunblock in my backpack. They took it, but my bottle insulin was free to go

Sounds like she probably got flustered in this high stress situation, leaving her supplies in the confusion. I was not pressured last time I flew, yet had to go back to screening to find something I left there when they swabbed my hands and pump. Never had my insulin and supplies swabbed…but I have not flown internationally.

Yes to that!

Thats the worst.

I once forgot an entire bag of pump supplies at security. They put it on the conveyor belt next to my bag after swabbing it, and I just forgot to put it back in my bag because it was in a clear bag that blended in with everything else.

Ever since then, I’ve carried my medication in brightly-coloured bags. My previous ones were blue, but now I have orange-red ones that are almost fluorescent and impossible to miss even for me (legally blind).