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Sometime in the not-too-distant future, I'm going to be traveling to Paris, France. I've traveled to Paris a few times before, but had syringes or an insulin pen at the time. This would be my first time traveling with an insulin pump and I'm a wee bit nervous.
Has anyone traveled with a pump to Paris before? Have you had any problems in airports? Through security or x-ray machines once in Paris?
I'm not fluent in French, so I'm nervous about traveling. I don't want them to fondle my insulin pump like they did my insulin bottles at the airport in Paris. I'm a bit particular when it comes to that sort of thing. :-)
Any tips are greatly appreciated!
I haven't had any issues getting through airline security in the states with my Animas pump, but I just read somewhere how important it is not to wear them through any type of security scanner. I'm curious to hear more about the insulin bottle fondling incident in Paris. How did *that* happen? I'm laughing, but maybe I shouldn't be..
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Have you had any problems in airports? Usually make it a show and tell for TSA staffers. Keep in mind the Animas VIBE is released in the EU countries.
Through security or x-ray machines once in Paris? Documentation is a plus. Even in France, they will follow US TSA rules on US bound flights.
I'm not fluent in French, so I'm nervous about traveling. I don't want them to fondle my insulin pump like they did my insulin bottles at the airport in Paris.
They may want to "swab" for explosives. Caribbean countries love the "swab". Sometimes they swab the pump other times you rub and handle pump, then your hands are swabbed.
I haven't been to Paris lately but I often fly several times a month, and since it is your first time traveling with your pump, I'll mention what I do.
Just before going through security I remove the pump and place it in a small baggie. At the security line, just before going through the metal detectors, etc., I hand the pump to one of the TSA personnel and ask for a hand inspection (which is allowable under TSA guidelines for medical devices)
At times the TSA personnel will tell you that you do not have to remove your pump, that the scanning devices are perfectly safe, etc. No matter what they say, it is still within your right to ask for the hand inspection. I usually tell them that since the Animus Ping has a metal housing, it will set off their alarms (which it will) and I would rather avoid a lengthy pat-down as a result. While this is true, it also usually suffices as a logical answer for them and they go ahead with the hand inspection. As Jay mentioned, they will typically do a visual inspection of the pump first, and then either ask to swab my hands, or occasionally they will want to swab the pump itself for bomb-making residue. As it is a medical device which attaches to my body, if they're going to swab the pump itself, I ask them to please wash their hands first, or if they are wearing gloves (which they should be) I asked them to put on a fresh clean pair. This typically results in them deciding to simply swab my hands instead, as having to stop the entire process and go to a restroom to wash their hands or find new clean gloves will take longer than it is worth for them. Most of the time this entire process takes less than 2 minutes, and by the time it is complete I walk over and pick up my bags from the conveyor belt and I'm on my way. I'm always very courteous, but these simple steps let them know that you've been through the process before and know what you are doing. For some reason this helps put them at ease and helps the process go much more smoothly.
One final thought. Animus has a pump loaner program. They will supply you with a second pump at no charge specifically for travel purposes. Especially when traveling overseas, this is a good program to take advantage of. Keep this second pump in your carry-on bags, not in your checked luggage for obvious reasons (but also have it hand inspected). Other then that, make sure you have plenty of extra pump supplies, etc. in your carry-on bags just in case your checked luggage is lost.
I'm pretty sure you won't have any trouble finding TSA personnel or others who speak english.
I have several European business trips coming up this year, and at least one trip to Bangalore India. That will be a new one for me, and I have no clue what to expect regarding the inspection process etc., but I don't anticipate it will be much different. I'll be sure to post a note if it is… Have a great trip.
Tim, thanks for the great info on travel to Europe. We usually go every year or two, and since Animas came out with the letter regarding the Scanners and Detectors, I had no idea on how to handle that. I was aware that under no circumstances could the pump go through the new Body Scanners, but before I used to go through the normal detectors. Never caused a problem with my pump. Perhaps they made them more powerful.
I travel internationally about once a month. Sadly, due to the large number of us who use them, the security folks at the airports are very familiar with the insulin pump. Only once in Germany did a security agent insist on sending the pump through the xray equipment. The xray had no effect on the pump, at least none that I could determine. I also would suggest that you get a loaner from Animas.Enjoy your trip and sae travels. - ALlen
I hate traveling with my pump - the concern with xrays, TSA, all of the supplies and extra backups, the different kind of xray machines in AMS, and the delay to explain everything. So now I just go back to MDIs on trips. It's way easier.
Thank you all for the great comments! If I do make it to Paris, I'm going to see about getting a loaner pump, just in case.
About the insulin-fondling incident...Never had any problems on the way to Paris, but when we were leaving, I was stopped for the wanding and the searching and all that fun stuff. Didn't bat an eye at the bag of needles I had. However, the bottle of insulin completely puzzled the agent. I had the bottle in its original box, but she decided to investigate and explore, sans gloves. Completely grossed me out. I was afraid to use that bottle after that. I can be a bit of a germophobe. :-)
My mom had an interesting experience with this same agent as well. The agent wanded my mom and then was feeling her wrist through her sweatshirt. "Madame, what is this?" My mom exclaimed, "My bone!" She also made my mom take off her shoes and my mom was having a bit of a problem getting her boot off. When she finally did, her boot flew out of her hands and hit the agent. It still cracks me up.
But I digress...If I go on an international trip, I'm tempted to go back to needles. This may be a completely naive question, but the x-rays at museums...they will not harm the pump, right?
We went to Paris last year, with the pump. I was nervous too -- but when I got my loaner pump from Animas Canada, it came with a bilingual (French/English) sheet that I carried with me at all times, explaining that both pumps could not pass through the security scanner or x-ray. We only had one problem, with one security officer, who insisted it could go through the scanner. We explained again that we weren't willing to take that chance, and very quickly, his supervisor intervened. (My husband is French, I'm fairly bilingual -- but that sheet of paper from Animas, I think, really was the selling point!)
Always arrive a bit early, agree to the manual search, and carry that sheet of paper with you, and enjoy your trip!