I recently had several miserable airport experiences with the TSA at several airports, all involving the full body naked x-ray imagers. After holding up my arms and reviewing my naked X-ray image (yikes), I have been treated by TSA like as a "person of interest" for my OmniPod, which I usually wear on my thigh. After the strange look from a TSA agent followed by the question about what I have in my pocket, I tell them that I wear an insulin pump. The TSA agent responses have included:

1. Blank stare. "What's an insulin pump?"
2. "You need to take it off, sir."
3. "Then why is it on your leg? I've only seen them on people's belts."

Every incident ends with me having to go back to a private room with two male TSA agents who want to see my OmniPod.

While I applaud the eforts of our TSA, I am a very frequent flyer getting annoyed with having to take off my pants for the TSA and to explain the joys of tubeless insulin pumping in the era of full body naked x-ray imaging.

I would love to hear any strategies about getting through airport security with minimal hassle. Do you just refuse going into the naked body scanner and demand a pat down? Do you tell the TSA agents before going into the naked body scanner that you are wearing an insulin pump?

Thanks in advance.

Views: 927

Replies to This Discussion

I don't tell'em until they ask and then I explain. There are always prescriptions and supplies including juice in my carry on as well as extra pods so I can illustrate. I got a similar treatment in the Madison, WI airport as you experienced and nearly missed my plane out (I was on a "mercy" flight ticket and wouldn't have been able to catch another flight out for 48 hours. I had tears of frustration running down my face -- maybe that helped!) I've been through the full body scanner at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport with absolutely no problem or questions asked. The treatment doesn't seem to be consistent. Even my small local Montana airport doesn't have much of a problem with the pod. I've only been patted down once there. I've been wearing pods since October of 2008. Complain to ADA.

I have only been through the full body scanner twice. Both times the pod was on my upper abdomen...maybe that is a less scary site to them?...and both times I was pulled aside and had my hands swabbed and sent on my way very quickly. Maybe lucky or maybe the thigh is a red flag for some reason?

Sorry you had to go through those frustrating experiences.

I agree that the airports are wildly inconsistent in the wake of the naked body scanner. I have had scans without incident, too. But my experience in Salt Lake last week sucked. In addition to receiving the fifth degree about my OmniPod, they even accused me of carrying razor blades in my carryon, which turned out to be my test strips. I have been on a pump for 21 years, and airport security had almost never been an issue, including in Europe and Asia, until now.

I usually try to avoid the nudie scanner...which is surprisingly easy to do in many airports (and shows how the whole thing is more theatre than real security). If it is just the metal detector, the pod goes through with no problem. The times I have gone through the nudie scanner, of course they see the pod and I am asked to touch it with my hands and then have them swabbed for explosives.

Caleb uses OmniPod and DexCom and he goes through the regular scan and all the stuff goes through the conveyer belt and we've never, ever been stopped, nor has his equipment ever had an issue as a result. I have offered up that he is diabetic and that we have supplies but no one wants to hear it. They all look at me and respond something like, "if they ask about it, then tell them, but otherwise we don't care." So I've stopped offering it up.

I always tell them before I step into the scanner that I have an insulin pump on - most of the time they'll tell the hidden screener that I'm wearing a pump. After the scan I get a pat down where the "anomaly" was (which I totally don't understand b/c they know it's there, so why pat it down?) and then I'm asked to touch the pod so they can swipe my hands for explosives. Every. Single. Time. I also plan pod placement accordingly when I know I"m going to fly. I usually place it near my waist so that I can easily touch it for the swipe.

I've found that quite a few of the TSA agents actually know of the pod and get a little excited to see one. Granted, I've only traveled through large airports since the scanners started being used.

Totally. I got the (useless) pat down after emerging from the scanner in SLC, and I was then taken to the secret strip search suite during which I had a hand swipe for explosives.

Another joy I recently experienced with a TSA agent in the strip search suite: "Well, I've only seen that type of pump [i.e., an OmniPod] on someone's arm. What's it doing on your LEG?!" Stay classy, TSA.

I used to travel every week (Sales job), and I still travel at least monthly. I just keep a note from my endo that explains that I am type 1, (this is really to justify my having a juice in my carry on, more than anything else), and I just make sure I am wearing my pod on my arm whenever I travel. I proactively tell the TSA agent that I am wearing a tubeless pump before I even go through the scanner, and although they clearly have no idea what I am talking about, the very worst they have ever put me through is a demontration to a team of 3 of them, showing how the PDM communicates with the pod, and how I deliver insulin, test my blood, etc..

I'm not sure except maybe to change the location of the pod as others have mentioned below. I had a similar experience where I was wearing it on my thigh and got taken into a private room with one TSA agent who had no idea what it was and kept trying to take it off my leg after numerous times of me telling her that wasn't an option. Thankfully the other agent came from a family of diabetics that was familar with insulin pumps and omnipod because if not I'm not sure what the other agent would have done. Now i try and make sure to wear it on my arm when traveling but haven't been through a full body scanner since.

I have also had TSA agents demand that I remove it, too. I really like pods on my thigh, though. It ticks me off to have to put it on my arm or abdomen (neither of which I like to do) just to accommodate their lack of training.

What happens when you tell them it has a cannula or needle going into your body and it cannot be removed ?

That explanation is the ticket to the strip search suite.




From the Diabetes Hands Foundation blog...

DHF Joins Diabetes Advocacy Alliance

Diabetes Hands Foundation is incredibly honored to join the Diabetes Advocacy Alliance, an organization with the drive and potential to affect a powerful, positive impact on diabetes and healthcare policy. Diabetes Advocacy Alliance is a 20-member coalition of leading professional Read on! →

Helmsley Charitable Trust Renews Support for DHF

HELMSLEY CHARITABLE TRUST GRANTS SUPPORT TO DIABETES HANDS FOUNDATION FOR FOURTH YEAR  Funding in 2015 to support major transitions in programs and leadership at Diabetes Hands Foundation BERKELEY, CA: February 18, 2015 – The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Read on! →

Diabetes Hands Foundation Team


Melissa Lee
(Interim Executive Director, Editor, has type 1)

Manny Hernandez
(Co-Founder, has LADA)

Emily Coles (Head of Communities, has type 1)

Mila Ferrer
(EsTuDiabetes Community Manager, mother of a child with type 1)

Mike Lawson
(Head of Experience, has type 1)

Corinna Cornejo
(Director of Operations and Development, has type 2)

Desiree Johnson  (Administrative and Programs Assistant, has type 1)


Lead Administrator

Brian (bsc) (has type 2)


Lorraine (mother of type 1)
Marie B (has type 1)

DanP (has Type 1)

Gary (has type 2)

David (has type 2)


LIKE us on Facebook

Spread the word


This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

© 2015   A community of people touched by diabetes, run by the Diabetes Hands Foundation.

Badges  |  Contact Us  |  Terms of Service