Monday Memories: I Promise It Won’t

I just got back from a recent work trip that involved some airlines flights. I have noticed (especially on the message boards) that a lot of diabetics worry about being stopped and forced to endure extra inspections because of their diabetic supplies. Most of this worry is unwarrented. My bag has NEVER been inspected for my diabetic supplies. And I have only set off the metal detector once – one very memorable time in June 2007.


As you can probably tell from previous posts, I have been traveling a lot recently. Actually I have been traveling a lot since I got my pump. I do not take it off when I go through the metal detector. There is not really much metal in it so there really is no need.

I usually do not say anything about it to the screeners. I just hide it well enough that they do not even see it in the first place.

On my most recent trip to Minnesota, the group I was with had decided to skip lunch before our trip to the airport. I was hungry and had popped a few glucose tablets in the van. The check-in line was relatively short and I was able to make it through in just a few minutes. I then moved on to the security line which was also very short.

I got to the front of the line and the TSA agent asked me if I wanted to remove my cell phone. ‘No,’ I said. ‘It is not a cell phone. It is an insulin pump and I promise it will not set off the metal detectors.’

Quite a bold statement, but I had never – in almost 4 years – had my pump set off an alarm before.

I hand the TSA agent my boarding pass and step through the detector. Beep-Beep-Beep. ‘I am going to have to ask you to step through again ma’am.’

I remove my watch and take my driver’s license out of my pocket. I step back through the detector and Beep-Beep-Beep set it off again.

I then get the honor of being wanded and patted down by a female TSA agent. The following items set off with the wand and were thoroughly examined by the ‘back of the hand’: all metal pieces on my undergarments, the snaps on the front of my pants, the grommets down the sides of my pant legs (adjustable from pants to capris), and of course my pump.

Oh well. I still will not be removing it the next time through but perhaps I won’t make such a lofty guarantee!

Getting wanded


  • Oh Sara, good point, but the photo was the highlight of the blog post.

    I have had my pump swabbed and questioned once, and my bag inspected for diabetic supplies, but it’s never been a problem, just a few extra seconds of their time.

    I travel A LOT, and usually, it’s not even noticed!

  • I agree. Most infrequent diabetic travelers go nuts in preparation. I carry a doctors note but it’s mainly for international travel – just in case.

    I’ve had my bags inspected and simply told the TSA agent that pouch has my syringes, so please allow me to handle it.

    As for my pump? It’s never set off the alarms. I tuck it into my pocket so they usually don’t notice it going through.

    I have a post I wrote on my experiences too on my blog:

  • That photo is pretty funny. I have never been stopped or set of the metal detector with my pump – Minimed. I typically put ALL of my D-supplies in my carry on because I’m paranoid about them losing my luggage and being without supplies.

    Never an issue. I remove my belt, put my pump in my pocket and stroll on through. No letters from my Doc either.

  • The last post interests me so I am resurrecting this thread. Twice in the last four weeks I have had the same experience, in Phoenix and today in St. Louis. TSO’s told me I had to go through the complete swab process. I was told it was a “new policy” and when I asked when this was instituted “since at least November”. Interestingly when I pointed out that many females who wear a pump carry it elsewhere on their body instead of a belt as I do, I was told that if I put it in my pocket and they don’t see it they won’t go through the whole process! I searched the TSA website after the first incident in Phoenix and could find nothing. Since I travel just about every week I have seen no consistent enforcement of this “new” rule and my Minimed pump does not normally set off the metal detector. What is the exact policy, what is the rationale, and where is this posted?

  • Gary –

    I don’t think they have an exact policy. There is certainly not any new rules since November because I flew in March/April with no problems.

  • Yesterday, in St. Louis, I got the full treatment: pulled me aside saying that anyone with a pump has to go through extra screening, opened every zipper on my backpack and briefcase and swabbed, made me hold the pump between my hands then swabbed my hands, and “wanded” me. I complained to the supervisor and the supervisor’s supervisor, and was told that it was standard operating procedure and they were not responsbile for the fact that this does not happen at other airports.

    I want to know, is this standard operating procedure?

  • I have a Insulin Pump since sept 2009. My work involves lots of travel. Usually TSA doesn’t give any hassle if the pump does not set off the Metal detector. I make sure I take off all metal items belt etc so I or it never sets off the Metal detect alarm, due to that I used to leave it visible. Recently going through FLL it did not set off the metal detetcor but the TSA person pulled me over for inspection which delayed me for 10 minutes. I complained that it makes no sense to do a Metal Wand detector body search if the Metal Alarm does not go off. My complaints just got me searched three times over and delayed further. So now I don’t leave it in view. International flights: Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Madrid, Morocco I had no problem. El Salvador they pulled me aside in a room and ask to lift my shirt to see that it was attached to me, very correct but annoying. I put it down that they had never seen a Insulin Pump before. Peter

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