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.