Flying on the Bandwagon

I hate to post about air travel and the changes with the TSA protocols just because everyone else is doing it… but I am.

I live across the country from my family so that means that I travel a lot – especially around the holidays.
Last time I posted about security procedures, in March 2009, the entry was actually picked up by the TSA and posted on their blog.
Basically, I explained that “don’t ask, don’t tell” was my standard procedure for going through security. The MiniMed pump has very little metal in it, so it VERY rarely sets off the metal detector. Often I can get through security without a second glance.
I am not traveling for Thanksgiving, but I am for Christmas. So far, my local airport has not replaced all their old metal detectors, so there is a chance that nothing will be any different.
I don’t really like any of the other options though. I know that I do not want to wear my pump through the new body scanner machines. According to the MiniMed owner’s manual (link to MiniMed’s airport info card ), X-rays = potential bad news. That means I also will not be putting it on the conveyor belt and sending it through the X-ray with my carry-on either.
I’m not really interested in getting felt up at the airport so here’s what I am hoping to do if all the new scanners are set up by Christmas: pick the body scanner option, tell them that I am wearing a pump and take it off and pass it to them right before I walk through, walk through as they are swabbing my pump (for explosive residue?!?!), put the pump back on, grab my carry-on and be on my way. What do you think the chances are that will actually work?
Just for fun, I’ve copied my original post below. And here’s the link to the TSA blog regarding the post.

By the way, this is my favorite recent “news story on the topic” (Uncle Stephen, right Kerri?)


Originally written in March 2009

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!

photo editing skillzzz


  • I don’t think it will work. Nothing against your theory, I wish it would work. But in my experience, TSA agents are trained to REFUSE insulin pumpers to take off their insulin pump. If you say “Oh I’ll take it off” they’ll say, “No you can’t we have to pat you down.” I had it happen once when I did set off the metal detector and I was like “Oh, it’s just this, let me take it off” and they said “No, you can’t do that.” Sigh. It was sooo irritating because I knew what it was. I wanted to just take it off and put it with my keys or something. 🙁

  • Two things:

    ONE: What you described (taking it off, letting them know, scanning and moving on) is exactly what I did when I flew in October. It worked fine, both at the RI airport and the Vegas one. No issue. (And as you know, I’m paranoid about flying, so I’m probably more for these new precautions than your average bear.) But it wasn’t a big deal to me. To other people, it might be, but I just wanted to get to my gate and get some coffee. 😉

    TWO: UNCLE STEPHEN!! Love him. 🙂

  • I refuse to freak out about TSA.

    While I obviously don’t have much to worry about in the diabetes supply department, unless they catch on to my lancets, I’m bringing my travel sized light therapy box. And I’m a little worried they won’t like that. But I’m not going to freak out.

    If I have to choose between seeing my family and not going through the security procedures…I’m still choosing to see my family.

  • I always go to the security early as I know I’m going to have issues going threw security. On my last trip from Thunder Bay to Minniapolis to Washington DC I must say I did feel a little like a criminal. Even with full disclosure to the TSA people. Wish that they would come up with something a little better for us. I also have the added joy have having balance issues so I felt like I needed to watch as I sway when I stand still and was waiting for the gurard to comment and ask me what I’d been drinking, lol.

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