{Travel} Anticipating TSA

by Leighann on August 22, 2012

Boeing 757

Image source: American Airlines.

When I travel I usually fly in and out of our small local airport. It’s usually worth it to not have to drive a couple of hours to one of several major airports in nearby big cities.

When I went through security for my most recent trip, there was no line (there rarely is!) so I took a few minutes to talk with TSA about going through security with a young child with diabetes.

I asked the person, who looks at your license and boarding pass and helps you get all your stuff onto the belt to go through the X-ray machine, if I needed to do anything special. He said no. He said its no problem to carry in juice boxes and supplies. In fact, when I asked about a letter from our doctor, he said that they never look at them and take people at their word. I asked if I should ask for a visual inspection of her pump and he said that it really won’t be a big deal to get her through security.

Then I looked up and saw one of the giant scanning machines that people have to stand in with their arms raised. This was not there when I flew three weeks before. After stepping through and gathering my things from several plastic bins, I asked the two agents operating the machine if my daughter would have to go through that. They told me that they don’t send kids through it and, in fact, they would have me walk through the metal detector with her and not separate us. Good to know.

I asked more about the machine because seriously, one flight it wasn’t there, the next it was. She said that it’s not like the backscatter machines where someone is in another room viewing the screen. This one shows basically a pencil outline of a generic person and if anything is detected, it appears as a yellow square. They let me watch as the next person came through because it in no way violates someone’s privacy.

I asked about her insulin pump. She said, “It’s attached to her. We wouldn’t ask her to take it off.” Good to know that at this small town airport they know what an insulin pump is. She said at most they might swab it or pat that specific area. (Note to self: have Q wear her pod on her arm when we fly.) Though Q has the OmniPod and I needed to check to see if the PDM should go through the x-ray machine with our luggage or if I’m supposed to carry it through the metal detector.

I was confident that we wouldn’t be hassled when flying out of our local airport, but I had to wonder about coming back home through a larger airport.

If you have flown with diabetes, what has been your experience with TSA or with flying in general? I am sure readers would like to hear others’ experiences.

I plan on writing about our actual experience flying to and from Friends For Life this summer.

From Insulet‘s website:

Can I travel while using the OmniPod System?

Yes. We recommend that you contact your airline for information on current security requirements. The PDM and Pods can safely pass through airport x-ray machines. If the security detector goes off, tell the security screener that you have diabetes and wear an insulin pod.

Further Reading

Packing Supplies

Disney With Diabetes

Packing Snacks (Coming Soon!)

Flying the Friendly Skies (Coming Soon!)

More posts about travel

More posts about Friends For Life

OmniPod disclosure

Insulet OmniPod FAQ

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kelli August 22, 2012 at 8:26 am

I have traveled several times with my insulin pump. I always have a supply case of just diabetes stuff. I open it up and put it in a bin by itself. Inside is all my diabetes supply needs and I do include a letter from my doctor just in case, but no one has ever asked to see it. Different things happen in different airports as far as inspecting the pump. At Willard in Champaign they don’t even look at it. At STL they had me sit on the side after passing through the metal detector and then a TSA agent inspected the pump. At Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin airports after going through the body scanners, I hold the pump and the TSA agent pats it down with some sort of swab or they have me rub the pump on my hands and then they pass an infrared or ultraviolet light over my hands. I suppose they are checking for bomb making residue or something. I don’t feel it takes me much more time to get through the check point then anyone else. I’ve never felt violated or discriminated against.

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2 Billie Wozniak August 22, 2012 at 9:01 am

I flew with my T1 daughter who is 2 and it’s just like you described. They didn’t look at my doctor note and we didn’t go through that big scanner. At PDX, they did make me open my sealed e-juice box, so they could test it. I had a closeable cup with me, so I just poured it into that to keep it with me after security. I had other low-carb tea my daughter likes which was no problem because it wasn’t sealed, so they tested it easily.

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3 StephenS August 22, 2012 at 10:22 am

Hi… in some airports, they’ve just waived me through the metal detector and don’t even check the pump (BWI). In others, it’s “go through the full body scan or step behind the partition to be searched” (Dayton, OH). Also, I’ve had 2 trips through the same airport where, in trip 1, they told me that I had to take all of my supplies out and TELL them what it was before it went through x-ray; and in trip 2, they told me that I didn’t have to take my supplies out at all.

I guess the moral of the story is to be prepared, ’cause there’s still some inconsistency out there. Good luck!

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