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23 Responses

  1. Jasmine
    Jasmine February 15, 2011 at 7:03 am | | Reply

    So glad to read this! Although the concerns I wrote about in my post in November did NOT come to fruition on my actual holiday travels, that was just one single time flying. I have four international trips coming up in the next seven months (phew!) so I’ll be acquiring lots more experience with traveling bionically. Thanks for the update, Amy!

  2. reyna
    reyna February 15, 2011 at 7:16 am | | Reply

    We have gotten some seriously funny photo’s of a 3 year old Joe, assuming the “position”, while getting the wand and pat down treatment next to an 80 year old gentleman.

    Our diabetes supplies have never raised an issue, thank goodness.

  3. June S.
    June S. February 15, 2011 at 7:16 am | | Reply

    Hmmm…. We who wear MM pumps cannot endure the full body scanner which, I guess, means we continue to get some sort of patdown. I’ve had at least one, and it really was not very invasive.

  4. Kristin
    Kristin February 15, 2011 at 7:42 am | | Reply

    Guess people’s perception of “invasive” varies. I’ve flown with my insulin pump. It always sets off the “beep” when I walk through the scanner box. So, I always get the pat down, which I DO consider uncomfortable and humiliating and actual molestation. When I flew last month on a couple of trips, I got it each time. Each time the TSA agent told me that she was going to feel up the inside of legs until she met resistance. Each time, the agent did exactly that, and then slightly more forcefully – to make sure it was really “the end of the line”? – pushed her hand higher, after the initial resistance she felt, which was, indeed, my crotch. Also, the TSA agent advised me each time that she would run her hand around the inside of my waist band. One time, the waist band of my underwear was higher than the waistband of my jeans (hey – I had a turtleneck and a sweater on, so it didn’t LOOK that way to the casual observer. More a question of high-waisted underpants than low-waisted jeans.) Anyway – so, she ran her hands in between the waistband of my underwear and my skin. Not comfortable at all. Would I have liked this more if it were not in publilc – in a private room? Hell, no! Better to be molested with witnesses, than alone with the perpetrator, I say! Also – her hands met something they didn’t understand, apparently, when going over my bra (as in the picture posted on this post), and so she had to explore with her actual hands and finger, the underwire of my bra. The whole underwire. Each side.

    So “invasive?” Well, no skin was puntured. Uncomfortable and humiliating and made me feel violated? Hell, yeah! Wonder if there is a document from the TSA bosses that I could carry with me to give to the TSA worker bees, to avoid such molestation in the future?

    This is an important topic – thanks for your efforts on this, Amy!

  5. Jim
    Jim February 15, 2011 at 8:20 am | | Reply

    I travel A LOT for business and have NEVER had a problem. The people working at TSA have a very difficult job to do. And, like every person walking the earth, they make mistakes. But by and large the screeners are not inadvertently intrusive and are certainly not ever deliberately intrusive. And calling the TSA screeners, who are protecting us from savages trying to blow us up, “worker bees” is BEYOND snobbish and condescending. The use of such language is actually quite disgraceful.

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  7. Susan
    Susan February 15, 2011 at 10:49 am | | Reply

    The manufacturer of my pump and cgm has advised that they not be subjected to any x-rays. Also, you have to turn your sensor off during the flight.

  8. Amanda
    Amanda February 15, 2011 at 10:52 am | | Reply

    I’m with Jim. I fly for work all the time and have been on no less than 10 planes in the last 21 days alone. I NEVER have problems and, in fact, to me it seems like the people that do have problems aren’t thinking ahead in a lot of cases. That makes it more their issue than TSA’s.

    I have an Animas pump and in about 50% of airports, it sets off the detectors so what do I do EVERY time I fly? I unclip from my infusion site right before my bag goes through x-ray, put it in my carry on or purse and walk through security. I realize this option isn’t available to every pumper, but it is to most with a little advanced planning. Do you typically put your site in an inaccessible place but you know you’re going to fly? Then when you change your site before the flight, put it in a different place where you can get to it easily. I realize CGMs and omnipods are definitely more challenging but also realize – all of these devices are actually CHOICES. The devices themselves are NOT required to sustain our lives, especially for the time it takes to get through security. You’ll notice that none of the commenters here are saying anything about syringes being questioned.

    I really feel like some diabetics want it every possible way – you don’t want people to treat you differently when you sit down to a dessert but you expect special treatment when going through security at an airport. Well, you don’t get it both ways – if I don’t want people screaming “diabetes” at me when I’m at Sprinkles, I’m certainly not going to scream it at airport security. I want people who aren’t actively involved in my life and care to treat me like everyone else all the time, not just when its convenient for me.

    1. AllisonB
      AllisonB February 15, 2011 at 11:19 am | | Reply

      @Amanda: The reason there is concern is because several pump manufacturers (Minimed and Animas included) say that pumps should not go through the X-ray machine because of potential damage. Now, I know plenty of people who do it anyway (like yourself) who don’t have an issue, but many people still feel that their medical equipment should not be exposed to X-rays, which are involved in both the conveyor belt scanner and the new full-body scans. The only machine that does not have X-rays are in the sometimes still used metal detectors, which may or may not pick up metal in the pump.

  9. Jane
    Jane February 15, 2011 at 11:27 am | | Reply

    Here, here to Jim and Amanda! I won’t repeat what they said, as I agree with it in entirety.

    And to Susan: I wear an Omnipod and a Dexcom and both companies have advised me that there is no issue with either going through x-ray.

  10. Jacquie
    Jacquie February 15, 2011 at 2:40 pm | | Reply

    I haven’t flown since all the new rules came out, but I’ve never had an issue with my pump.* I’m also lucky enough to live in a city (Jacksonville, FL) with a small-ish, chill sort of airport.

    *Knock on test strip case

  11. Anne
    Anne February 15, 2011 at 5:51 pm | | Reply

    Those of you who fly out of major airports may indeed have few hassles with the TSA. We had no trouble with airport security in Seattle, Cleveland, and Maui when returning home through these airports. Don’t assume that everyone everywhere has it so easy, though. The nearest U.S. airport to our home is a small regional airport, located near an international border and the TSA has given my family a difficult time EVERY time we fly out of it. It is NOT because of poor planning on our part. I have a child with Type 1 diabetes. I do know how to plan in advance. We pack everything according to instructions and we display everything (insulin, asthma inhalers, other liquids, cellphone, cameras) as instructed. We would not be able to stow a pump in a purse as ALL electronic devices have to be removed from carry on luggage and placed in a bin. TSA agents have pulled my child away from his parents without a word to either of us, unless you count “Who are you?” barked at my husband when he tried to accompany my son, for the impending wanding and “pat down” during which the TSA agent told my son to remove his “MP3 player,” …his insulin pump. The following year, a TSA agent once again pulled my son aside, without a word to either of us and proceeded to pull up my son’s shirt in front of everyone waiting to go through security. He finished the search off by wiping my son’s hands and forearms off with those drug/explosives detection pads. Once my son has been identified as a diabetic, at least one piece if not all of our carry on luggage is hand searched. This is not once. This is every time. I will be very glad to have some standardization or at least “refinement” of security procedures for travelers with medical conditions.

  12. Lee Ann Thill
    Lee Ann Thill February 15, 2011 at 7:14 pm | | Reply

    Thanks for posting this Amy. I haven’t flown since the body scanners and enhanced pat downs have been implemented, but will be flying next month, albeit with some hesitance. Honestly, if they want to sift through my bags, I don’t really care. They usually do, and I’ve gotten accustomed to it. It’s the pat downs I’m looking to avoid. My concern is that if I refuse the scanner since my devices aren’t supposed to be exposed to x-rays, can I opt for the metal detector, or will I automatically be subjected to the pat down? If my only choices are the scanner or a pat down, it is not really a “choice”. If I at least have the option to go through the detector, that at least gives me some choice. I have an Animas, which has invariably set off metal detectors when I’ve tried wearing it, but I think I would detach it and request it be manually inspected.

    Also, like you, I’m concerned that better training of agents and the trickle down of new policies will take some time. Do you (or the ADA) know if this is actual policy now, and if not, when it will be policy? Will the TSA be updating policies on their website so we can print them and have them handy? I’ve heard of people doing something to that effect without the best results, but I would still do that just to say I did everything on my end of things to be prepared.

  13. MattyB
    MattyB February 16, 2011 at 1:29 am | | Reply

    Do you Diabeticds really think think this is going to change anything? Like they have classes on how to pat down a diabetic? I took my shirt off and walked through after seeing the trashy TSA agents checking out my girlfriend after making her take her sweater off, so I removed my jacket and oops my t-shirt and polo as well. TSA agents needed work, so they applied they are all typically middle-lower class citizens with nothing more than a highschool diploma(no offense), I dont even think their line of work deserves to be shortened to three letters i.e. FBI, DEA, ATF….and oh yea TSA! Give them a plastic badge and they get an attitude…have “they” actually stopped/prevented an attack yet? Nope didnt think so, and terrorists are sure smarter than any TSA agents going to be. Wake up people! Just wait for my blog to start, Ill break it down for you, and can someone just tell me why test strips are still a dollar a pop??!? What is in them, gold, platinum, maybe diamonds?

  14. Nick Lozar
    Nick Lozar February 16, 2011 at 4:35 am | | Reply

    I recently made a trip through Washington DC to Tampa. DC, being so close to the Capitol, is pretty stringent on security stuff. I had to do the full body, “check out my gear”, scan. the people looked at me pretty funny at first. Immediately noticing their concern I quickly informed them that I was wearing an insulin pump.

    At that point they politely escorted me to the pat down room. from the time I was scanned to the time I was cleared took no more than 5 minutes, and the TSA staff was very curtious.

    Now, I will admit, I am a military guy, so I tend to get a little less grief at the airport than the average traveler, but I was glad to see th process worked so efficiently.

    For those of you thinking about a pump, the OmniPod makes airport scanning pretty easy.

  15. Kristin
    Kristin February 16, 2011 at 7:15 am | | Reply

    Did not mean to insult anyone with the term “worker bees.” I meant anyone who carries out a policy but does not necessary make the policy. I count myself among the worker bees. The people on the ground doing the work. I know that with this and other issues, the people on the ground are not always aware of policy changes because the communication has not reached them yet.

    In any case, like I said, people’s perceptions differ on whether or not something is invasive or “a problem.” I consider this manual touching of every inch of my “exterior” body, even through clothes (sometimes – not the case with the waistband routine) and gloves – a problem and humiliating and distasteful. Yes, I know these people are doing their jobs, and don’t enjoy touching me any more than I enjoy being touched. Nevertheless, I find it humiliating and distasteful. I would find it humiliating and distasteful even if I weren’t diabetic. I don’t feel I’m being singled out for having diabetes. I know that I am always called over for manual screening bc the machine beeped, regardless of the reason. The TSA people don’t know what conditions I have or don’t have.

    I have never screamed “diabetic” in the security process. I dutifully follow the TSA’s directions on where to stand, where to wait, where to put my feet, etc. Figure their process is to find whatever they want to find. If they ask if I know why the sensor was set off, I tell them I have an insulin pump. They’ve never asked me to disconnect it, so I don’t prethink of where to put my infusion set in anticipation of flying.

    Most of the TSA people I’ve met are polite and respectful, given the circumstances.

    I used to disconnect my pump and put it in my purse, until I learned that this is not recommended for the pump. I travel for business and usually without co-workers, so don’t have anyone to call into a private screening area besides a stranger. I feel that hundreds of strangers in the security area are better witnesses than a single stranger in a closed room.

    Given all the imaging and detection technologies that are available today, I don’t believe that this system is the best TSA can do. I think the TSA is very good at reacting to threats after they’ve been made apparent – such as the possibility of hiding explosives in one’s shoes – but less good about being proactive and intelligent about anticipating ways to threaten our airspace and detecting them before happen. I think this “system” is part of that lack of forethought and aspiration for excellence in their line of work. And yes, I resent a stranger’s hands all over my body.

  16. Susan
    Susan February 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm | | Reply

    Having traveled with my son with his insulin pump for the last 5 years in and out of DC and Orlando many, many times, we have had many pat downs and thorough wanding for explosives. HOWEVER, since this new dreaded pat down phase has begun, we have sailed through the metal detectors with not a peep from the beep! First time he held it in his hand, it didn’t set off the alarm, so they only wiped it down and let us on our way. Now, we leave it in his pocket and say nothing. He is so excited to finally be able to pass through without having to be searched. He said to me, “mom, I’m normal!”

  17. FatCatAnna
    FatCatAnna February 17, 2011 at 11:55 am | | Reply

    Great post! I’ve never had any problems with how I’m treated by both TSA / CATSCA (I’m Canadian). I always get pulled over for a frisk down – by accident without my knowledge (and Animas is aware of my goof up) – I went thru’ full body scanner earlier last year without knowing I shouldn’t have (I found that so cool – but again – that’s me with my quirky sense of humour). I flew a few times in December – and was hand patted down with no difference then prior to changes in October in the US of A – but I also had in my hand a card authorising TSA / CATSCA that my pump / spare pump could not go thru’ body scanner. They didn’t seem bothered by this – and one TSA agent I believe I educated about this – as he hadn’t been made aware of this.

  18. Bill
    Bill February 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm | | Reply

    I’ve flown a number of times with my Animas pump since the enhanced security screening went into effect. Animas advised me that putting the pump through the x-ray machine can potentially cause programming errors and will void the warranty. Needless to say, I carry it with me through the scanner.

    About half the time, and as long as I’m careful to remove everything else that’s made of metal, the pump doesn’t set off the metal detector. When it’s triggered the alarm (and once when a TSA employee noticed the bulge in my pocket!), the TSA personnel have been very polite when I immediately told them that it was an insulin pump…a couple even told me that they have diabetic relatives.

    Yes, the pat-down is intrusive, but I’ve found the screeners to respond in kind when you treat them professionally. When I told the guy, “I sort of feel like we’re old friends,” it didn’t go over so well…

  19. Kathy
    Kathy October 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm | | Reply

    I was coming back from NY last night with my pump and had set off the metal detector. My pump was being worn underneath my clothing. Because I had set off the metal detector, I was told that I had no option but to have a pat down, which included a very thorough touching of my genital area. I had explained to the TSA agent what a pump was and what it did, but that did not help. She said that because I set the detector off, I was getting a pat down- no options. I do not think this is right.

  20. Alicia LePard
    Alicia LePard January 17, 2012 at 9:38 pm | | Reply

    Not sure what the whine is about. I have flown extensively and have never had a problem anywhere, anytime. If the scanner picks up the device, I go through the manual screening. Usually I simply take off the pump, run it through the xray scanner and reclip up the other side. Avoid the manual scan, because I usually run late into the airport.

    Quit the bitching and plan a bit instead! Over 3000 people died in 2001, you can be gracious and make sure it never happens again.

  21. Karen
    Karen January 12, 2013 at 12:42 pm | | Reply

    TSA Denver has not gotten the insulin pump update. Denver, concourse A, has only full body scanners. Doctor and Medtronic say don’t put pump through any x ray. Because daughter requested pat down there was a body glove test of all her carry-on and 3 pat downs. Diabetes supplies kept testing positive. Worst part was rude TSA. Diabetics with insulin pumps have no choice and are subject to intensive screening simply because they can’t follow the crowd through xray.

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