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Pumps and airport security

Discussion in 'Insulin Pump Forum' started by paulliljeros, Mar 23, 2016.

  1. paulliljeros

    paulliljeros Other · Well-Known Member

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    Hi, I just wondered how everyone gets on with airport security when travelling with your pumps? I fly internationally 2 or 3 times per month, and when I was given my pump, my DSN said it should not go through any of the security systems. Last week, at Gatwick, I showed the pump to the security person, who refused to take it and said I had to carry it with me through the metal detector, which obviously, detected metal, and alarmed. I was then told to stand in the body scanner, at which point I again, politely protested stating I had been told it should not be exposed to this. The security guard said that no one else had ever declined and that it was perfectly fine for the pump to go in, and that doctors know nothing about the airport security and are simply wrong to advise as they are doing. Feeling I had no option, I complied, and as it happens, the pump is still working.

    However, I have now spoken to Animas, who have clarified that:
    The pump must NOT go through either the baggage x-ray scanner nor the new full body scanners (AIT)
    However, the pump CAN go through the walk through metal detector.

    Animas have now provided me a letter, and I now look forward to my next experience. I just wondered what everyone else has experienced so far, and what you do or say to handle the security?
     
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  2. ewelina

    ewelina Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Ive never had any issues with my pump. Staff at airports seem to be very familiar with insulin pumps and know how to handle it. You've been very unlucky to meet that guy I think
     
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  3. paulliljeros

    paulliljeros Other · Well-Known Member

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    You're probably right @ewelina but it's just a bit weird. I have had no problem with the CGM, but have obviously never asked to avoid the xrays with that, and most of the time the pump has not been an issue, with security happily taking it by hand and swabbing it manually, but I think like you say, it was just by chance that the last couple of times, security in both London and Geneva decided that there should be no exceptions. Sadly, considering recent events, I suspect it is going to get a little more stringent in the coming weeks.
     
  4. Auckland Canary

    Auckland Canary Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi
    I flew with my pump for the 1st time at Christmas to New Zealand so a total of 6 flights. I was told not to put it through the main baggage scanner ( I have an animas ) so on my first flight at Heathrow I just walked through the little X ray and set it off.
    So I told security that I had a pump and they asked me to take it off for a swab as well as my shoes. So the pump was swabbed and I put it in the tray with the shoes and while they patted me down, unknown to me, they then put both my shoes and the pump back through the main scanner! I went mental as I get stressed in airports anyway but was told they put pumps through the big scanners all the time with no harm.
    At each stage on the journey I took the pump through the small scanner but set it off every time so had to get pulled aside and explain the pump again.
    Basically after the 3rd time I got ****** off and just put it in my bag through the big scanner. It worked absolutely fine so I will continue to do this to save the aggravation. So in answer to your question I think animas are covering their arses in case something may happen. I have yet to find a reason why they shouldn't go through and unfortunately the Internet is full of conflicting information on this.
    So probably to be safe don't put it through but I always make sure I have enough insulin to cover me in the case of a problem and would just tell animas it broke without informing them it went through a scanner . I just hate the aggravation of continually being pulled aside in security as I just hate this
     
  5. paulliljeros

    paulliljeros Other · Well-Known Member

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    I find it very confusing but do not mind the security. In fact, I would rather they over-check everyone, and catch a perpetrator, then let everyone through and miss something critical. I just find it frustrating that everyone has a different story. I assume the swabs will sufficiently test the pumps, which are common enough now to be exempted from the x-ray equipment, if it really is a potential risk.
    I think the pump manufacturers really need to step up to the plate here and either formulate a clear set of guidelines with the airport security agencies so that everyone knows where they/we stand. I found it strange that there is no signage when approaching the scanners to state what medical equipment is safe, or unsafe to wear, so all that does, is create doubt.
     
  6. inFrance

    inFrance Type 1 · Newbie

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    I frequently fly to the UK from France wearing an Animas Vibe. After reading this thread I asked my Diabetes nurse here in France to contact Animas France on my behalf and ask them if there was a problem with wearing my pump when going through the body scanners at International airport security and to provide me with a letter if necessary. She kindly did so and their response that there is no problem
     
  7. azure

    azure Type 1 · Expert

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    @paulliljeros I never take my pump off - it's inconvenient and I definitely wouldn't want anyone walking off with it!

    I carry a doctor's letter and my prescription. As soon as I get to Security, I have that letter in my hand, tell them I'm wearing an insulin pump and that im carrying sharps and insulin, etc in my hand luggage. I then ask to be patted down. All the rest of my stuff goes through the conveyor belt scanner and I and my attached pump am taken past the walk-thru scanner without going through it. I then point out my pump, tubing and where the infusion set is, and they swab the pump and my hands, then pat me down. Once the swabs are given the OK, that's it.

    I know the pumps are supposed to be ok in the walk thru scanner, but I don't want to risk any malfunction if I'm going away for two weeks. Also, it's a pointless exercise as it sets off the alarm and you get patted down anyway.

    I've never encountered any problems and have travelled to a number of countries.

    I too think you got unlucky with who was dealing with you. Hopefully, you'll get more understanding people in future.sorry you had that experience. It would have stressed me out enormously.
     
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  8. Spicey245

    Spicey245 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    I have a doctors letter that states that the pump must NOT be disconnected from my body at any time and that it cannot go in the body scan machines or on the conveyor belt scanner but can go through the normal walk through metal detectors. I just tell them I am wearing it before I walk through the metal detector, they then take a swab off it (not always but it has been done) and they pat me down and use a hand held metal detector sometimes. Never had any issues so far.
     
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  9. Chas C

    Chas C Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Interesting news on Animas saying the Vibe can go through a body scanner, also that the Vibe sets off the walk through metal detectors.

    Neither my Dexcom Sensor or my Insight Pump set off the walk through metal detectors, as far as I'm aware neither can be taken through a full body scanner.
     
  10. ronialive

    ronialive Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    I am amazed at animas france saying that the vibe can go through the scanner as they publish letters and documents saying that it must not.
    I had terrible trouble at Birmingham airport and caused a 30 minute holdup when I flew. They made me cry. I enclose al the documents I was given for people to see.
    actually the Microsoft word documents wont open or upload sorry- but I had letter from animas and letter from nurse.
    I had a ct and mri scan and they broke the pump.
     

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  11. tigger

    tigger Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    I've flown a few times and gone on eurostar. I was told on receiving the pump that it must not go through the full body scanner or the xray tray but the walk through is fine. I have a letter from the dsn saying this. It also says repeated handheld scanningcan cause malfunctions. For the first trip i informed security they told me to hold it out i beeped and they patted me down. For the next trip i didn't say anything and it didn't beep (different airport ) eurostar it beeped. Returning from france i declared it and they treat it like a pace maker so you walk round the scanner and they pat you down. I haven't had a problem yet but would be prepared to refuse if they insisted. This is a vital and sensitive medical device. If it malfunctions it could stop delivering or deliver the entire reservoir which could kill me. It's not for a security guard to dispute manufacturer's warnings. Get a letter and good luck for the next time.
     
  12. tigger

    tigger Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    I have a medtronic
     
  13. paulliljeros

    paulliljeros Other · Well-Known Member

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    I flew again this weekend and learnt that after walking through the metal detector, if asked to stand in the full body scanner, it is much simpler to just take the pump off and comply, because after explaining the pump could not go in there, and asking for a pat down instead, they decided I needed to be taken to a private room for a full pat down, despite me explaining I was happy for it to happen in public! Anyway, 20 something minutes later I was able to continue into duty free!

    In short my plan of attack moving forward is:
    1) remove shoes and belt and place through the baggage xray (once the detector goes off, you have to remove them and have them x-rayed anyway!)
    2) on approach to the metal detector, show them the pump, and walk through
    3) when it beeps, let them swab the pump and
    4) if they ask me to enter the body scanner, simply take the pump off, explain it must not go through anything, and enter the body scanner as requested.
    Attached is the letter Animas provided that I carry, to hand over in case they insist on putting it in the xray.
     

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  14. Chas C

    Chas C Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    I do exactly the same as Paul above.
     
  15. GordonMcLean

    GordonMcLean · Active Member

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    I tell the security staff what to do and hold the queue up and cause a scene of i get problems.
    Best thing to do is ask them to hold the pump once you've taken it off
    Walk through any scanner they ask you to
    Get the pump back get them to swab it
    Comes back clear, put it on and thank them for their time......hit the bar
     
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  16. Chas C

    Chas C Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Take care not to be too assertive, tried that in Berlin before I was aware it was ok for my Dexcom receiver to go through hand baggage X-ray, they told me if I did it again they would refuse to let me fly.

    They were ok with the pump on the walk through.

    Was taken to a separate room to be swabbed, seems in Berlin they were not set up to do this at the security check area's.

    I wrote to BA and complained, they told me to write to the Security officer at Berlin Airport, which I did but I never got any reply.

    I later found out that others had put the receivers in hand baggage and though X-Ray with no issue which I what I now do for all flights (even though at the time Dexcom said it was a no no).

    BTW on my way out from Heathrow Terminal 5 I had no issues showing the receiver and having it hand swabbed.
     
  17. Jackie100

    Jackie100 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to France in a couple of weeks and I have heard about putting your pump in flight mode but I have the accu chek combo with doesn't have that so do I just turn of Bluetooth and that is it ?
     
  18. paulliljeros

    paulliljeros Other · Well-Known Member

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    To be honest @Jackie100 it doesn't matter where I am flying to now, or with which carrier, I just put my phone on silent, and leave it, along with my dexcom and xDrip (CGM monitors) and pump turned on. Should anyone ask, I would politely explain they are medical, and provide the letters, but it hasn't happened yet, and I don't expect it to. I've been on approx. 10 flights in the last month with my pump now, and had no issues once on board the plane
     
  19. Chas C

    Chas C Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    There is no need to turn off the Combo BT, I have flown many times with a Combo (pre-Insight) and never turned off the BT. I never put my Insight into flight mode either.
     
  20. Jackie100

    Jackie100 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Thanks very much for that just thought I would make sure ! And take it the pump doesn't go through X-ray or body scanner ?
     
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