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What should I expect with the TSA and my insulin pump and supplies?

Leaving Sunday for a four day trip to Joslin in Boston. After all of the miserable stories I've heard re. TSA behavior with insulin pumps, I'm more than a little anxious. I've never flown with a pump.  On the very few trips I've taken, I was using MDI. What should I expect?
posted May 2 in Conversation by Janis (1,270 points)
retagged Jun 30 by KarenG

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13 replies

Best reply
OK. Call the TSA or email now! They have a great program called TSA cares. They provide transportation support specialists who will help you get thru. You will need a travel letter from your MD for your Rx's and the OK for medical food. (I bring a regular can of coke for super lows where glucose tabs don't work). The specialist will make sure you are hand checked and they know about pumps / CGMs. I just flew yesterday and while Newark isn't as good as Chicago, they take you to the front of the line and get you through. In Chicago they give you a supervisors phone # who sends someone out to get you. In Newark (and a few months ago in Ft. Meyers) you just ask when you get to the first TSA officer you see at the actual security person at the beginning of the security line. Oh and you get an extra carry on if all it has in it is medicine and diabetes supplies.Happy Travels
answered May 17 by cracked glass (570 points)
selected May 17 by KarenG
It really depends on what TSA agent you get unfortunately.  I always ask for a pat down.  I actually have had more trouble when I was using MDI in the past and they would bounce my bag for all the syringes in my carry on.
answered May 2 by Pump1fun (1,770 points)
I agree, it just depends.  98% of the time I have no problem.  I had one trip when they were very rude to me after I asked for a pat down.  They just kept insisting I could do the full body scanner.  I kept a smile on my face and just kept stating I'd like a pat down please.  By the end of the exchange, they were also smiling and nice.  

So my best advice is know your rights.  (You have the right to opt on of the full body scan and get a pat down.). Keep your cool.  (Even if they are rude, don't be rude back.). And leave plenty of extra time in case you have to wait a bit for a female agent to come do the pat down.
answered May 3 by KarenG (16,340 points)
+1 like
I recently flew to Boston from Seattle. I never have any problems going through security with my supplies. I do ask for a pat down rather than go through the detectors with my pump and sensor (you could check with your pump company about this). It's worth giving a few extra minutes for security just in case but I've been flying with a pump and my supplies for 20 years and it's always been fine. You could always get a letter from your doctor if you are worried.

Have a great trip! Joslin's is a wonderful center!
answered May 17 by jschliebner (470 points)
I travel frequently and have never had a problem. I wear the omnipod. I'm TSA precheck, so I often find I don't have to go through the full body scan - which is nice because that always causes additional screening. The extra screening is just a minute delay where they have me touch my pump and then they swab my hand.

Even recently when I forgot my ID, they didn't give me any extra trouble.

I've found most agents are aware of a pump and generally are kind about it.
answered May 17 by Schorey (200 points)
+1 like
I've never had a problem with TSA or airlines in general - and sometimes I bring an entire carry-on suitcase of medical supplies with me! When in the security line, I politely ask for a pat down, explain why and say that my carry-on contains a large amount of medical supplies.

I agree with KarenG here-- A good attitude can go a long way. Be patient and allow for extra time to get through security.

This is my article about travel & packing for T1D that was just published earlier this week on DiabetesDaily: https://www.diabetesdaily.com/blog/travel-with-type-1-diabetes-414283/

Be prepared (at least as much as you can be!) and have a great time!
answered May 17 by lalanasa (170 points)
+1 like
It's no big deal.  I always tell them I have an insulin pump.  Sometimes they pass me through, sometimes they have me touch my pump and then swab my hands.  

I've always gone through any kind of scanning portal without fear.  But I did read somewhere that the new Medtronic 630 shouldn't go through some kinds.  Anybody have clear info about this?
answered May 17 by brittonk (540 points)

As I understand it, all Medtronic pumps are okay to go through metal detectors.  But they should not go through full-body scanners.  They also should not go through x-rays (meaning don't take off the pump, and put it in your purse and send it through the carry on scanner).


Thanks everyone for your replies! I did my best to follow KarenG's advice and keep a smile on my face. It was a little hard for me to do at 5 AM, without any coffee. In Milwaukee I politely asked the TSA agent for a pat down because of the pump. I waited a few minutes, because the non-stop flight was full, and then had the pat-down. The agent was very polite, appeared to be familiar with the pump, and it took all of two minutes. Returning from Boston, allowed plenty of time at Logan, after getting a ticket voucher was directed to the pre-check line and walked right through without taking off my jacket, shoes or answering any questions.

Although I'm not planning any additional flights in the near future, I'm now confident that I'll survive the TSA check-in. Thanks!
answered May 17 by Janis (1,270 points)
+1 like
I flew a week and a half ago. I always tell the agents that I have an insulin pump. This last time they had me wipe the pump on my hands and then they swabbed my hands. No big deal. No one asked me for any paperwork.
answered May 17 by seecaseyrun (200 points)

I I have flown a few times since I got my Omnipod and CGM in November of 2016, and I have not had a problem.  I carry all my medical supplies in my carry on in a separate bag, these do not go through the scanner. Once I get to the scanner I opt out of the x-ray scan and ask to be hand searched (medical supplies and body) I tell them I have a medical device the manufacturer recommends not to go through the scanner. From the Dexcom website "Don’t put your Dexcom G5® Mobile CGM System components through baggage x-ray machines. Before your screening process begins, ask the TSA Officer to perform a visual inspection of the receiver and your extra sensors. Place all Dexcom G5® Mobile components in a separate bag before handing over to the Security Officer. For other medical supplies, such as medications, meters, and strips, check manufacturer’s instructions or the TSA website."  The Omnipod can go thru x-ray safely according to Omnipods web site. 

answered May 17 by anonymous