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Heathrow and the Pump interrogations and scaners and xray machines!!!!!

Discussion in 'Insulin Pump Forum' started by .gurley, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. .gurley

    .gurley Type 1 · Active Member

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    As a pump user I travel a lot, yes my hand luggage is a pure medical bag most of the time and contains my spare old pump (Medtronic) and all insulin and other drugs I take. I always have a letter from my Doctor and Hospital and one from Medtronic. On a recent trip which was to be one month going to Amsterdam then on to Cape Town for 3 weeks I was fully prepared or so I thought. I was flying from Cyprus via Athens to Schipol. At Cyprus I went through security showed my letter had usual pat down and swabs etc. of medical equipment, all good. At athens I had to go through same procedure some confusion with the pump but when I got a supervisor again all okay. Arrived Schipol and stayed a week in Amsterdam, lovely weeks break there and great people the Dutch for sure. Next step fly Schipol to Heathrow, Schipol equipped with full body scanners declared pump user all the usual things and could I avoid scanner. No problems all checked polite and very understanding. I must state I have no problems with security checks as they are essential in the times we live in and I always declare what medical equipment I have before going through security and give copy of letters stating not to put equipment through scanners or x ray equipment, fine on metal detector gate though. I arrive in Heathrow, oh boy what a reception at security!!! I declare I am wearing a pump and it is advised I do not go through the Body scanner or put the pump through x ray machine. I am met with a sharp response that I have to go through the body scanner no matter what!!! I politely point out that it is okay to do a pat down search etc. I am told again I must go through the scanner and my spare pump must go through the x ray machine. At this point I refuse and ask for a body search. After some fifteen minutes I am taken away to a room and given a body search with this guy telling me that UK do things different as opposed to other countries, really thinks me? but put up with a rather intimate body search at least the worst I have had. Eventually I was swabbed and all was okay for me to proceed to my transfer flight. Boy was I angry at my treatment by now. On my return trip all airports were straightforward and Heathrow were much more professional but still had to explain no xray please because etc. I have travelled extensively to America, Middle East, Far east, and all over Europe with no problems declaring my pump etc. However I always have major problems at Heathrow Airport, they are rude and to be quite honest extremely blunt and cause extreme embarrassment to passengers like me even when we do everything we should! I know this is a bit of a rant but they are extremely poor, and remember My problems went on for fifteen minutes in full view of other passengers and it was not the first time this has happened, plus they escort me to the room for a search!!!. My second time at Heathrow was an improvement and there were announcements that UK checks may differ from other countries so maybe by standing my ground someone may have picked up on it! Over to other pumpers for comment. Heathrow Security staff please note there are ways to do things correctly, politely, and with some courtesy and the job you have to do which is important will get done as well!
     
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  2. Engineer88

    Engineer88 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    I had no issue flying to the US a couple of weeks back or previously to Spain etc. I now no longer take letters as I just tell them I'm not going in the body scanner and never had an issue (touches wood!)
     
  3. Sandymcat

    Sandymcat Type 1 · Active Member

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    Not a nice experience! I must admit I am slightly worried about my pump and travel. I’ve only had it 2 weeks today. The last time I came through Masa Alam in Egypt last year to return home, i actually had my insulin pens taken off me to show the supervisor. They were out of my sight and it made me feel very anxious. I dread to think what they would make of a pump!
     
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  4. Deleted Account

    Deleted Account · Guest

    My experience at Heathrow security has been varied.
    Usually, they have been great: polite, understand the pump, take it off me to swab as I go through the body scanner.

    However, last year, I had a similar experience to you where they got very upset when I told them my pump would not go through the scanner. Eventually, they took me to a room for a pat down (thankfully, not too intimate) without any assistance carrying my bags and the liquids, laptop, etc. plus coat, belt, boots (which they would not let me repack or put on) but on the way told me very loudly this was my fault and I chose to have diabetes. At the end of the pat down, they told me to get out of the room ... still without giving me a chance to pack my bags and dress.

    I wrote a polite but strongly worded email to the security team their who apologised and agreed to train their staff better.
    I have since travelled and found them fine (although one, obviously new recruit had no idea what an insulin pump is, does, ...)

    Sounds like they have one or two members of staff who are in the wrong job.
     
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  5. .gurley

    .gurley Type 1 · Active Member

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    Yes US never had a problem or Spain nearly always Heathrow though, Cape Town minor hiccup because guy at x ray machine did not know! Supervisor did!
     
  6. Fruitella

    Fruitella Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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  7. .gurley

    .gurley Type 1 · Active Member

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    Do not worry if you are new to pump, make sure you have letters etc. and understand that you will have to show explain etc. I have decided they have a downer on me! lol
     
  8. .gurley

    .gurley Type 1 · Active Member

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    Yes aware of this article and great for those that do not know for sure. I have written to Heathrow airport listing my woes so hopefully someone will pick up on it.
     
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  9. novorapidboi26

    novorapidboi26 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    So to confirm, the body scanner that you walk through [scanning for metal] is also not recommended.....?

    I went through that scanner with pump attached and that pump became faulty.....is it connected?
     
  10. .gurley

    .gurley Type 1 · Active Member

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    If it is the metal detector that's the standard one no, it should not damage the pump, to be 100% check with the manufacturer.
     
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  11. Chas C

    Chas C Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    If anyone has the contact details for the head of security at Heathrow I'd also like to write to them would be good to remind them of the promise made to @helensaramay too.

    I posted separately of my recent experiences at Heathrow, till last week it has been one of the better airports in my experience for Diabetics, now it's not so good.
     
  12. .gurley

    .gurley Type 1 · Active Member

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    Here are tehe contact details click link: https://www.heathrow.com/more/contact-us/airport-feedback
     
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  13. tim2000s

    tim2000s Type 1 · Expert
    Retired Moderator

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    Also, please raise your issues with Diabetes UK and the APPG for Diabetes. Bringing political pressure to bear is important in cases like these.
     
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  14. ealingr

    ealingr Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    I've generally had good experiences at Heathrow, although the extent of security search has varied when I've said I can't go through the full body scanner with my pump. When I last went through, the security agent recommended that I take my pump off, put it in a plastic bag and give it to a member of staff to hold while I went through the full body scanner. The pump could then be swabbed by the agent within my view. This would save the full body search being needed.
     
  15. .gurley

    .gurley Type 1 · Active Member

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    Hi the advice is not to remove it by the manufacturer. The reason is that when it is busy an untrained person could put it through the xray with out you knowing or seeing, this is what they wanted to do at heathrow with my spare pump! So we have to be very careful. At Cape Town I had one of the staff insisting my spare was put in the tray and sent through or else! I eventually got supervisor but a small argument there. I would say do not take it off and watch your spare like a hawk.
     
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  16. ziellos

    ziellos Type 1 · Newbie

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    I absolutely dread going through Heathrow airport security with my insulin pump. Admittedly it has been better in recent times, just depends who is working. Had to bite my tongue when some idiot said to me 'the insulin pump isn't that serious?'
    Gatwick and Stansted airport security staff are just as thorough, but friendly, professional and understanding when it comes to the pump.
    If I fly through Heathrow now (and I suspect because I complained in the past, I now ALWAYS set the alarm off!) I just briefly disconnect, before they even ask, and watch them swab it as I go through the body scanner. Manufacturers state you cannot put the pump through the body scanner so if something happened the pump insurance might not cover it. I would not risk it.
     
  17. michelejane

    michelejane Type 1 · Active Member

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    I am due to fly from heathrow to Canada soon, should I call the airport and airline first do you think? mind you it's not easy to find a direct number I'm discovering
     
  18. Deleted Account

    Deleted Account · Guest

    I would not bother calling the airport.
    I would go stronger than that: I DO not call the airport or airline in advance of travelling.
    I am a relatively frequent traveller through LHR and have never called the airport or airline in advance and must have travelled over 100 times since my diagnosis and about 20 times with my pump.

    My pump has only every been a problem a couple of times and then only during the security checks.
    I give myself extra time just in case and take a letter with me from the doctor clearly stating I have diabetes that is managed with an insulin pump which must not be subjected to any radiation.
    (The only times I have had problems was when I forgot my letter.)
     
  19. Celsus

    Celsus Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Here are the official instructions from Medtronic on how to proceed through airport TSA security:
    https://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/loop-blog/get-tsa-5-diabetes-devices/
    I see they actually recommend to either disconnect the pump and place it on the tray for security checked while you walk through as 'normal' or that you declare in advance you want to keep it on and demand a manual pat down. And that you show your medical declaration if asked about it.

    OK, 1st off: I stopped using a pump after trying first time back in the 80-ties when using one of the first models of the MiniMed before they got bought by Medtronic. And the world has certainly moved on since then, but so has the development of the glargine insulins etc. And as I experienced several trouble non-stop back then with airport security tightening up, trouble with blocked tubes, batteries going flat, etc etc And I engage in sports like surfing etc, where it also was a problem certainly back then. And I never went back... Sorry for that, as I know they work great for many!

    'Fun thing' is though I don't even have any medical declaration about my diabetes or need for insulin. Never had one actually? And I truly travel every single week 2-6 8 flights is the norm. I load up my hand luggage. 2-3 Lantus, 4-6 Novorapid pens as the absolute basics. More in my toilet bag or tie-area in my roll-on bag if going on a roundtrip for more than 1 week. I never take out the pens from my hand luggage. They always go through xrays/security scans without a hitch. Same with my Abbott Libre on my arm, goes through all kind of scans, xray, mafnetic body scans etc etc. Never a single beep, never ever. Only time the Libre sensor cause a beeping is when you get one of those manual body paddings down, where they also use a body swiper-scan gun tool.

    Only time ever after literally thousands of flights, was once in CPH Copenhagen Airport, where I went through in transit to a far east flight destination. They asked me to open my hand luggage there. I had 2x 5-pen boxes of Lantus pens and 3x 5-pen boxes of NovoRapid pens plus probably 6-8 pens laying loose in my small front pocket. So all that liquid together apparently lit up a bit on their otherwise dull security screen... Was not asked much after just declaring it was my personal insulin as being diabetic Type1. And off I went for a 6 weeks trip to the Far East and Australia/Oceania!

    Only place I don't travel often is South America.
    Otherwise rest have never caused any issue what so ever.
     
  20. michelejane

    michelejane Type 1 · Active Member

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    Thank you so much! Michele
     
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