Diabetic insulin pump and security

Apr 15th, 2011, 04:22 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 16
Diabetic insulin pump and security

Hello everyone,

Given the recent steps security has taken at airports, what sort of issues could a person (specifcally a child) expect if they are wearing a diabetic insulin pump ?

I have a 7 year old Type 1 diabetic who is currently on the 'pump'. He's always eaten healthy, so the diagnosis 4 years ago came as quite a shock. As my wife and I have grown to learn, a great deal of people (at the time us included) do not know the difference between Type 1 and Type 2.
The short version between the two types : Type 1 is when the pancreas cannot produce white blood cells. Type 2 is more commonly associated with eating habits.
Still, when people see him 'playing' with his pump (thinking it's an Ipod or pager), and then find out he's a diabetic, one of the first questions or statements made is in regards to his eating habits or assumed lack thereof. Once, my wife unloaded on a woman in the grocery store when the woman suggested that we "stop feeding him junk food". Long story short, that woman has a MUCH better understanding of the different type of diabetes, and the other patrons in the store can verify that she received that knowledge.
Sorry, I've drifted a bit off the topic of my post...

I'd like to think our trip will go smooth (specifically at the airports). But between the mainstream knowledge of diabetes, and the recent changes in security procedures, I'm inclined to believe that, at least once, the validity of my son's condition, coupled with the device attached to his belt and the needle in his stomach, could lead to an issue with security personnel uneducated with an insulin pump.

I would gladly appreciate any knowledge, input and advice anyone has in regards to my situation...
Lance71 is offline  
Apr 15th, 2011, 05:27 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,065
What airports are you flying out of? They do vary in htier sensitivity botht he children and to medical supplies.

You have the right to stay with your child through any portion of the screening ad to request a private visual screening. Some airports (SFO for ex) are very familiar w/ insulin pumps and should be no problem.

Best to let the TSA know t he situation before oyu go through.

here's the TSA info

mztery is offline  
Apr 15th, 2011, 08:19 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I suggest you also have a letter from your son's doctor describing his need for the pump that you can show to the TSA officials when you go thru the security procedure.
bettyk is offline  
Apr 15th, 2011, 09:57 AM
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And I would print out the section on diabetes from the web link above, because it clearly spells out what the TSA policy is for someone with an insulin pump. At least TSA does have a clearly written policy.
socaltraveler is offline  
Apr 15th, 2011, 10:16 AM
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You have had 4 years to figure this part out, but do not rely on airports, airlines or anyone but you to have appropriate food available for him during the entire length of the travel time from Point A to Point B. Expect delays, closed food kiosks at airports, shortage of diet soda or water on the plane, getting stuck on the tarmac - anything you could possibly think of.

Insulin pumps are so small these days that he might make it thru security with no one even noticing. I would allow a bit more time. Letters from MDs are rarely useful for anything - anyone could print one up on their home computer with little difficulty. Your call whether you want to call it to their attention before he goes thru security or wait until their is a problem.
gail is offline  
Apr 16th, 2011, 03:50 AM
Join Date: Oct 2009
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I would not say letters from MD's are rarely useful. Customs or security can ring that particular MD if need be and confirm something. My friend travelled with her 2 kids who were insulin dependant and the med certs made all the difference.
MissGreen is offline  
Apr 16th, 2011, 07:06 AM
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Thank you very much for the link. Interesting reading. And I agree, I'd rather be upfront from the get-go than have security feel as if we've tried to be deceitful.

I was contemplating that. I think that's a fine idea. And I think that would go far with being candid with security regarding his situation.

I'm going to print that so I have a copy handy. I plan on reading, re-reading, and re-re-reading that section. I'm all for cooperating. But I don't want my son's rights abused, either.

Oh yes, we're used to packing certain foods when we travel. Lately it's been road trips, so our upcoming air travel throws another variable into the mix (limited accessibility to specific foods, etc.).
Airports don't have grocery stores, so we've got to plan for every contingency.

That cinches it. I'll ask the MD for a document that I can use for this situation if the need arises.
Better to have and not need, than need and not have, eh ?

(Curiosity has me wondering what the comment that was removed said).

It's not that I think security personnel (or any airport employees, for that matter) are unintelligent. In fact, I'd prefer they be thorough at thier jobs.
But a great deal of things are open to interpretation.

A few years ago, a friend of a friend (Pete) was in an airport. Pete apparently travels quite extensively for his job. Anyway, Pete carried a laptop in a shoulderbag/case, and a travel/duffel bag (back when two carry-on's were allowed).
Pete stopped at one of the newsstands for a couple of newspapers and a package of snacks. The cashier put these items in a disposable plastic bag for him.
When Pete then attempted to board the plane, he was told that he had too many carry-on's. The limit was two, and he was over the limit. THEY WERE DECLARING THE DISPOSABLE BAG A THIRD CARRY-ON !!! Pete was then told he would have to check one of the three bags !!!
Apparently Pete is pretty sharp in these types of situations, so he asked that the disposable bag be checked. He was denied that option, and told to either put the disposable bag inside on of the other two bags, or he wasn't getting on that flight. Period.
Pete begrudgingly shoved the papers and snacks in his duffel bag, but asked what exactly this accomplished, other than holding up the boarding line. His question apparently did not illicit a response.

I'm all for cooperating and being as upfront and candid as possible when we travel. My biggest concern is knowing my son's rights regarding his disability.
After reading the link above, no one can tell me that I "have to stay here while we search your son".
I don't want myself or my son to be taken advantage of because we don't know the 'rules'.

Thank you all for your knowledge, input and advice. If anyone has any additional info/tips, please do not hesitate to post...
Lance71 is offline  
Apr 18th, 2011, 05:30 PM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 188
You might want to browse through this thread on flyertalk.com


The flyertalk board is pretty focused on the trip rather than the destination. You can use the search option to find more experiences from flyers.

Although I don't use a pump, I carry all my supplies with me including extra insulin and needles and I also put a complete second set of everything in my carryon. Although you can go through security with no problems most of the time, the one time you get someone who doesn't know what s/he is doing it can really mess up your entire trip. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
RonDace is offline  
Apr 18th, 2011, 05:32 PM
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BTW, if you read the threads on insulin pumps, go the the time frame after Nov. 1, 2010 if you don't feel like reading all of the posts.
RonDace is offline  
Apr 18th, 2011, 05:33 PM
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BTW again, I carry the extra in my checked bag but I'm sure you knew that.
My brain must be melting.
RonDace is offline  
Apr 20th, 2011, 04:39 AM
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Thanks RonDace,

That's some interesting reading in the above link. It seems as if there's not a defined rule for TSA officials regarding diabetic travelers.
I've already comprised a partial list of items he'll need (infusion kits, insulin, juice, glucose tablets, etc.). Seems like every day the list keeps getting longer. We are attempting to plan for every situation imaginable.

I also plan on putting any electronics (netbook, GPS) in his carry-on, too. I figure it's a 50%-50% chance he'll get 'selected' for additional screening. My son and I will go through one lane. My wife will take the other children through another lane, with only clothes and the like in thier carry-ons.
Even if my son and I get held up, the two of us v. security should go much smoother. My wife might be able to get the other kids through quickly, and get them settled somewhere PAST security, instead of all the kids being held up with my son and getting impatient waiting for who-knows-what.

Thanks for the input. I'm more than willing to cooperate with whoever we need to (security or otherwise). But I don't intend on getting bowled over by anyone, either.
Lance71 is offline  
Apr 21st, 2011, 04:44 AM
Join Date: Sep 2006
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From your list of items, the juice may not make it through even though it may be vital to your son at some point. Security just sees "juice, liquid, >3oz.,not allowed" in spite of any argument or doctors note you may have.
Consider that you may have to surrender the juice and buy more once you are airside. If the juice is to have at your destinations, you could put it in your checked baggage and/or buy some at your destination.
If you don't already have something to keep your insulin from getting warm, Frios makes bags that can keep the insulin below ambient temperature. I have one for anytime I go warm places. I got it on amazon.
RonDace is offline  
Apr 21st, 2011, 05:03 AM
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Hi RonDace,
I was thinking that about the juice. I'm going to bring at least one or two juice boxes with us for each trip through security. The mentality behind that is :

-If they let us take it through, then that's cool.
-If we need to give someone a demonstration of how the pump works, then he can drink the juice and I can bounce that against his insulin.
-If they won't let us take it through (or drink it before getting airside), then we'll have to toss it out.

We buy the juice boxes in bulk, so we're talking about $0.23 per juice box. SO it's not exactly the end of the world if it's gotta go...
Lance71 is offline  
Apr 21st, 2011, 05:41 PM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 188
The cynic in me says you're going to lose the juice and they won't be interested in a demonstration.
I've always got a few Twizzlers with me just in case. They travel extremely well. My nurse prefers that I use the awful sugar tablets or gel but I just go with the Twizzlers. I put a few in a snack baggie (cut in half first) and the size I use are about 15 carbs for two strings (four half strings.) The different packages have different serving sizes so you may want to check if you decide to go with the 'Ron method of low sugar control.' Did I mention they taste good?
Good luck with your trip. I hope everything goes well for you and your son.
Would you update this post or start a new one to let us know your experiences going through security and which airports?
RonDace is offline  
Apr 21st, 2011, 06:20 PM
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Hey RonDace,
I'm gonna roll with all of it. Juice, Twizzlers, tablets, the works. And those Twizzlers DO taste good.
Yes, I had intended on updating our insulin pump/security experiences post-trip.
Lance71 is offline  

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