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Flying with an Insulin Pump

I'll be traveling to Paris at the end of next month and am rather nervous since it is my first flight with my plastic pancreas. I've been doing research on navigating security so I don't have to go through the x-ray machine or full body scanner, but then there are the horror stories about someone who had to go through or the TSA agent went ahead and sent the disconnected insulin pump through the x-ray and rendered it useless. I'm just curious if anyone has traveled with an insulin pump to Europe. I'm printing off pages of information to show to the TSA agents in case they try to argue with me about the pump and the vast amount of supplies I'm bringing with me.

Posted by
792 posts

Hi Brando- I remember someone replying to a post on the issue of an insulin pump a while back. The poster also travelled with an insulin pump that could not pass through Xray. Hopefully he will read the post so he can give you first hand information! But, I recall him saying he sometimes had to discuss the issue at length with a TSA agent, but they always relented in the end. I think bring a doctor's note, the instructions from the insulin pump manufacturer, and give yourself plenty of time at the airport. You can also contact TSA before you go and ask them directly.

Posted by
2644 posts

I do not have diabetes, but my sister's son was diagnosed at age 1 and so they have been dealing with this issue for years. Very specifically, they flew to Europe last year with his pump. I asked her to respond to your question. Here is her response:

I have a 13 year old that has been on a pump for more than 8 years. He has probably taken about 20 flights since having the pump and never had a problem. He takes his pump off and puts it in one of the bins along with all of his supplies (and trust me we travel with a ton of them - and also a note from the doctor confirming that he needs all of those items, including juice boxes). We mention to the TSA agent that it is all diabetes related. They say nothing (or not much), and he walks through the machine, and his bin of supplies and pump go through the x-ray machine. We have never had a problem. That being said, when travelling to Europe last summer, we did contact our pump company (Animas) and get a loaner pump "just in case." I think they might have charged $50 for it. I loaded it with all of his settings, so it was ready to go in case of a problem. The worst thing that could foreseeably happen is that a particularly difficult TSA agent ask you to prove that it is a working device as they do with laptops. You touch the screen, light it up, and that should be it. But, we have never been met by anything but a question or two, and mostly just sympathy for the extra hassle. Good luck. I'm sure you'll have a great trip. Diabetes didn't stand in our way, and hopefully it won't for you either.

Posted by
1 posts

Hi brando,
I travel often and have gone overseas several times with a minimed insulin pump. I have had an insulin pump for 12 years and have never had a problem flying, domestic or internationally. I disconnect my pump for the 1 minute it takes to walk through the machine/full body scanner. I usually place my pump in a ziplock bag and let it go through security with the rest of my belongings. I've worn it a few times while I've walked through the machine, but they tend to have more of an issue with that. Neither machine should mess up your pump. I don't know what kind of pump you have, but if you can't disconnect it easily just warn them beforehand and walk through the machine. Occasionally, they'll have to do a quick pat down or something, but they're pretty understanding. Also, I always carry a letter from my doctor just saying I am a diabetic and I require having supplies with me. I don't think I have ever showed it to anyone. Good luck with your travels!

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you all for your responses! I had a business meeting at the end of April and was able to do a practice run, so to speak. I was able to disconnect my Animas insulin pump, put it in a ziploc bag and have it hand-inspected without incident. The only thing that got me "pulled to the side" was a bottle of water I completely forgot about in my purse.
I feel I'm ready for Paris in just under 2 weeks. :)