Living with diabetes blog

Tips for flying if you have diabetes

By Peggy Moreland, R.N., C.D.E. December 1, 2015

Many of you with diabetes will be flying for the upcoming holiday season. You may be wondering how Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations affect you, particularly if you use an insulin pump.

First, arrive at the airport early, particularly during peak travel periods. Let the security officer know you have diabetes and are carrying your supplies. Once screened, the following supplies and equipment, including insulin pumps, are allowed through the checkpoint:

  • Insulin and insulin loaded dispensing products — vials or box of individual vials, jet injectors, biojectors, epipens, infusers and preloaded syringes
  • Unused syringes when accompanied by insulin or other injectable medication
  • Lancets, blood glucose meters, blood glucose meter test strips, alcohol swabs and meter-testing solutions
  • Insulin pumps and insulin pump supplies — cleaning agents, batteries, plastic tubing, infusion kits, catheters and needles (insulin pumps and supplies must be accompanied by insulin)
  • A glucagon emergency kit
  • Urine ketone test strips
  • Used syringes when transported in a Sharps disposal container or another similar hard-surface container

Check with your insulin pump company on whether your pump can go through the full-body scanner. Chances are that the insulin pump may trigger a secondary pat down.

For example:

  • Medtronic's website includes a chart of devices and equipment that may cause interference with your insulin pump or sensor and guidelines for what to do when encountering such equipment.
  • Animas's website recommends removing the insulin pump prior to using a body scanner. As an alternative, Animas suggests asking for a walk through or pat down inspection. Note: the Animas insulin pump/or the metal clip may set off the metal detector at airport security check-in.
  • OmniPod says its PDM (patient diabetes manager) and Pods can safely pass through airport X-ray machines.
  • T:Slim, T:Flex (Tandem) says its pump shouldn't be exposed to X-ray screening used for carry-on and checked luggage. Don't put the tandem insulin pumps through full body scanners. As with other pumps, the pump has been designed to withstand common electromagnetic interference including airport metal detectors.
  • Continuous glucose monitoring sensors shouldn't go through X-rays or body scanners.

Bring a letter from your doctor and prescription labels for medications and devices. Insulin pump websites have airport information cards you can carry. Pack medications in a separate, clear bag and keep it in your carry-on luggage.

Additional information can be found on the TSA website.

Happy holidays and safe travels!

Dec. 01, 2015