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I Have the Right.

I have the right to opt out of the TSA body scanners.  I have the right to stand there, politely, and wait for someone to manually inspect my diabetes devices.  I have the right to decline to send my medical devices through the scanning machines.  I don’t make unreasonable demands during airport security screenings, and I follow the rules as they are laid out to me.  

But, rules or not, I have the right to be treated like a human being, instead of having a flock of TSA agents stand beside me and talk about my diabetes devices – the one attached to my body, not theirs – without even looking at me.  And when they do look at me, and I try to smile at them to remind that I just want this to be cool and easy and not a big deal, they don’t even acknowledge me.  But I’m supposed to let them touch me.  Most often, the agents treat me as they'd like to be treated, but over the weekend in San Francisco, it was more "do as I say and don't question my authority."

I have the right to be listened to.  I don’t expect every TSA agent to be familiar with the devices I am wearing, which is why I am happy to answer any and all questions.  I do want to help.  “What is that?  I’ve never seen that before,” the TSA agent says to her supervisor, pointing to the Dexcom G4 transmitter bulge on my left thigh.  They both lean in, close to my body, and stare for a few seconds.  “It’s a diabetes device, a continuous glucose monitoring device,” I say.  “I was asking my supervisor, ma’am.  Not you,” is the response.  Oh?  Cool.

I have the right to lose my patience, too.  I don’t exactly want to be wearing these devices.  I’d kind of rather not have diabetes, or to have to discuss it in great, but ignored, detail at airport screenings in front of dozens of people.  I’m trying to be really, really smooth about this whole thing because I’m pretty sure the TSA agents see a lot of nonsense during the course of their day, but why can’t they extend me the same courtesy?  

I have the right to request to be shielded from embarrassment.  I get embarrassed when I explain that the sensor and transmitter are physically attached to my body, and you ask me ten times if I can just remove it and send it through the scanner.  I get embarrassed when I have to show it to one, then three, then five different people.  I get embarrassed when I see women watching me through the glass as they put their shoes back on, humiliated on my behalf as they see the TSA agents asking me repeatedly to lift my shirt to show the pump, or roll up my pants leg to show the sensor.   Why are these screenings not the same, across the board?  If I had known this screening was going to be such a crummy one, I would have definitely taken them up on the private screening room option.  Sure, I am read the same boilerplate each time, but the physicality of the screening varies so much.  Most of the time, I am not embarrassed.  But for the times when I am, that embarrassment is thorough and complete.

I have the right to request that my decisions be respected.  Why does the agent have to roll their eyes when I respectfully request an opt-out?  “All of those devices can go through the x-ray machine, and you can go through the body scanner,” is what I’m often told, and when I decline (again, respectfully), I get stared down, as if I’m a jerk for wasting their time.   I don’t mean to disrupt the flow of their day, but they made me feel like a crumb, like I did something wrong for wearing these devices and opting out of the scanner devices. For making a choice I have the right to make.

I treat you with respect, and courtesy, and I try to make the screenings at airports as pleasant as I can.  I am only asking for the same in return.  “We’re just doing our jobs,” is the reason given for this lack of respect, and that’s supposed to be justification.  “I’m just minding my health,” is my reason for making the decision to wear these devices, and yet I’m treated at best like a criminal and, at worst, like an animal at the zoo.

It's not about the TSA knowing everything about diabetes.  It's about being treated with respect.  I'm angry, and I have that right.

Comments

I am so sorry that this happened to you, and to anyone else. Horrible.

Ugh, that's awful. You do have the right. You SHOULD be angry. This is humanity/courtesy 101. If you decide to write a letter to the TSA (or send them your post, or both), and need signatures, count me in.

I applaud you and completely respect you for standing up for your health, your right to privacy and respect (and respect for the devices that help you lead a relatively healthy life.)

I am a chicken - I don't fly that often, but when I have, I just wing it and risk the machines blitzing out something - I put my Dexcom receiver in my purse and let it go through, or in the little tray with my cell phone, etc. I will have my insulin pump in my bra, and sensor usually on thigh, but no bulge since I wear loose clothes. Only 1 time have I set off the walk through metal detector, and I think it was because I was wearing more jewelry and bling on my clothes than usual. Took those off (never mentioning my cyborg devices) and got through OK.

My way of dealing/avoiding potential airport embarrassment is just that - avoidance. But we shouldn't HAVE to try to avoid it. It shouldn't be a problem in the first place.

Oh, Kerri. I'm so sorry that this has happened to you. I have not traveled by plane much, and the last time was 2007, so I've never experienced any of this. I can only imagine how horrible that must have been for you to want to be calm and discrete and they were just ignoring you and treating you with utter disrespect!

TSA is so maddening sometimes. Not that I travel as much as you, but when I do, usually I don't feel hassled. Occasionally though, I've had issues, and it's infuriating how powerless I feel in those situations. I'm sorry you had to deal with that. Obviously, it's not been relayed to them that being respectful and courteous AND doing one's job are not mutually exclusive endeavors.

Well-written. I often get the look of 'oh, you're one of those people who don't want to go through the scanner' , but once I get to the agent, she's nice 95% of the time. And that's great. But the other 5% - dude, don't make me feel bad about this. It's my choice to take care of something that was NOT my choice. I already feel bad that I'm making a long process even longer. Don't add to it, especially when I've been particularly patient and understanding of what you must deal with also.

Thank you for articulating how I've felt way too often. I actually had a pump bite the dust not even 15 minutes after I walked through a scanner at Logan airport, leaving me sobbing at the Jetblue counter, asking for a delay for my medical emergency. The fear, confusion and ultimate loss of a good portion of my vacation has made me paranoid since then and I also avoid the scanner at all costs. I live abroad now and its even more difficult outside the US, though I have stopped using the pump so it could be worse.

Thank you for writing this.

I have a similar (but less severe) issue when I fly. When I ask for the pat-down instead of going in the backscatter X-ray machine, the agent always says, "but it's totally safe for your pump." I don't want to get in an argument, so I don't mention that the manufacturer, Animas, says it's not safe--and that it would be a HUGE problem if my pump malfunctions when I'm travelling.

If we have the choice between a pat-down and going in the X-ray machine, why do they get mad when we opt for the pat-down?

After my third or fourth time hearing "Your pump can go through the scanner" from the TSA, when Medtronic emphatically says it cannot, I finally figured out what the TSA means when they say that. They mean it won't break their scanner. They don't care if the scanner breaks the pump. Usually I get the eyeroll from the person shepherding people through the scanner, but the person who does the actual patdown has always been kind and respectful.

Sorry the TSA in San Francisco put you through that, Kerri. That's one of the most unfortunate things about all of the airport security and what we - all of us, D or not - have to put up with: the uncertainty about what to expect. Everything goes smoothly for me most of the time, but you just never know based on where you're at how it will all go down. Or if a bad experience is protocol or just someone having a bad day. Thanks for sharing this and bringing attention to this.

This is so horrible. We haven’t had too many issues, but I think that’s more due to Sarah being a child than anything. She’s definitely gotten the thorough pat down a few times, but at least they were nice about it. Did you send this post to the TSA, to the airport executives, etc? I certainly hope so because they need to understand how wrong they were and maybe they can work to improve for the next time.

Glad you shared this with us, and I'm hoping someone from the TSA sees this too. Why do I always hear about these incidents on the weeks that I fly?

And another question: Why is it that all of the horror stories I've read are from women? I haven't had any bad experiences, and I can't recall reading about any from guys. Are we being treated different, or are we not speaking up?

I understand how you feel. When I was flying to Vegas for my wedding I alerted an agent that I had an insulin pump on and would be opting for the pat-down. I said 'the device can't go through the body scanners'. I actually had a TSA agent LIE TO MY FACE and tell me the body scanner was only a metal detector and keep insisting it wasn't the body scanner (I'm sorry, but since when do you get in a big machine with your legs at shoulder width and your arms up for simple metal detection?). I was made to feel like I was an idiot who was wasting their precious time. I had female agents rolling their eyes at me. I don't know who was more mad...me or my hubby (as we walked away he called one of the agents something he really shouldn't have - we could have gotten in trouble). I was made to feel less than human. It wasn't so much embarrassing as it was degrading.

I feel for you Kerri, not only because the situation simply sucks, but because I, like so many other T1Ds, have had similar experiences. I fly on average about 16x a yr. Usually I deal with TSA just fine or with some minor shenanigans. A few months ago, what I dealt with at JFK was so ridiculous (3 TSA agents all following different/inconsistent protocol with me), that as I ran to board my flight, I called my attorney. His advice (which applies to a slew of things in life) was to write down everything that happened in as much detail as possible AND get the names of the people involved. Just an FYI.

What an uncomfortable and unkind experience.

I'm approaching my first flight with a pump, and I'm a bit nervous. It's hard enough as it is taking off my shoes, removing my insulin to a clear plastic bag (and remembering to put back afterwards), and not setting down my plane ticket and leaving it there.

Most of my screenings have been reasonable considering the amount of stuff I carry, but I had that same issue in San Francisco coming back from a JDRF Ride in 2009. I was locked in the glass pen for 20 minutes waiting for someone of appropriate authority to inspect my hardware and narrowly missed a flight. I was shocked that a city and state so open minded and concerned about rights would pen people up like animals. Besides, aren't there a few technology companies out there??? Geesh.

Kerri this happened with my daughter Elyssa at the SF airport when I came back to Vegas last year. They were so confused as to why my 4yr old was wearing a pump. They Swabbed for chemicals & patted her & I down like crazy. Her sippy cup checked. They looked at everything except for her needles & insulin. It took us about 30mins. The TSA agents actually told me I couldn't touch my daughter until the process was over. So she stood 2' from me while we waited for the results of all the swabs taken. I couldn't hold or hug her during all the craziness. I was pissed asked for superiors and airport Reps. I felt sad & mad and almost cried when everyone started to huttle around and asked what was wrong with my daughter. Nobody should have to endure that! Grrr

Yeah, my son w/ T1 has had problems at airports. He actually hates flying because of how he's treated. The first time we had trouble, I believe he was 9 years old, they did the full pat down while my wife watched (like Racheal's story). Basically, made him feel like criminal for 10-20 minutes... running tests on everything and looking it all over. I've complained to our congresswoman about this multiple times since it happened at our (Nashville) airport.

I have been t1 for almost two years now. I have taken two round-trip flights since then and I have had some issues as well with TSA agents. Some were cool about it right away and I got through relatively quickly. Others have tried to tell me as well that I can go through the scanners with my pump after I have asked them if I can receive a manual patdown. It's like they think I've been a diabetic for a day and don't know anything about my disease or the device I wear on my hip 24/7. Frustrating.

Oh goodie,
I'll be at SFO next week.
Maybe I'll just print this out and take it with me...

First off, I am sorry that you had to write this. It makes me dread when my son has to take his first flight. When the idiot, said that he was asking his supervisor, not you, my response would have been, did they know what it was before I told both of you?

When you are told “All of those devices can go through the x-ray machine, and you can go through the body scanner,”, you should say, these are necessary medical devices, and may be thay can, but if they did and then that caused them to fail while I was in flight, I would hate to be the person that caused the plane to make an unscheduled stop due to my medical emergency.

Oh Kerri,
I am so sorry you had to go through that. Right after 9/11 we had a similar experience at Philly airport, complicated by me being newly deaf (Apparently the agent thought I was ignoring her) Our sons (6&10) went through in front of me, while my husband stayed behind with our laptops, etc. Our oldest told the agent that I am deaf and the law says she has to be extra nice to me (He was and is pretty awesome). She yelled at the boys to "sit down and shut up". They sat down and burst into tears. My husband was not allowed to come through to comfort them or me (we were all three crying). He was furious. Nothing like this has happened since but we fly rarely. (((hugs)))

I would encourage sending this to the airport administration. I understand they're doing their job by investigating carefully, but there is nothing barring them from being polite.

Maybe there's a difference between male TSA agents and female TSA agents.

Thank you for writing this and being so honest with your feelings. As a T1D I often feel like I am stupid for refusing to go through the body scanners when the TSA Agents tell me repeatedly that it is "safe." It's embarrassing to argue with someone when you know they are wrong but they hold the authority by their position. I hope you find these instances few and far between.

Try to cut TSA some slack. Yes, they should treat you with respect and courtesy. At the same time they have a stressful, thankless job: keeping masses of travelers from getting killed on aircrafts. That's why I don't mind if they take a long time, look at me stupidly, angrily, or perplexed. Their mission is more important than our convenience, time, feelings, or perceived embarrassment. Flying is not a right. It's a convenience, a choice we make. If someone's not comfortable with today's security precautions then maybe flying isn't for them. Personally, I'm grateful for TSA agents who care enough about my safety to scrutinize devices attached to peoples' bodies, and I make a point to thank them.

Sitting here in Phoenix Sky Harbor having just gone through the exact same thing! TSA can certainly suck. I too said the same thing about scanners of my body & my electronic team. *sigh* As if the aspects of being a diabetic isn't enough we have to justify our team. *smh*

It makes me mad to read how many people have experienced this. There really should be consistent training at all airports. I don't fly often, maybe once or twice a year, and usually I do okay but it's ALWAYS handled differently. Very frustrating! One time at the Denver airport I had a TSA officer wearing a MiniMed pump tell me her pump NEVER alarms and I should just go through the scanner. MY pump, Animas, ALWAYS alarms and then I still have to do the pat-down. I request the pat-down every time and every time they tell me I don't need it. Infuriating!

Awesome post. I'm sorry this happens to anyone.

I quit wearing my pump for this very reason. I fly frequently, and it was just too stressful, embarrassing and humiliating.

Kerri - Your are correct in all dimensions & I'm so sorry you had to go through that! This is so incredibly wrong and demeaning to everyone one with diabetes - And anyone who is sick, requiring any type of DME to live, let alone fly.
TSA agents don't even know the rules on their own website - There's no uniformity or consistency, let alone rhyme or reason when it comes to TSA.
I've experienced and blogged about the similar TSA experiences I experienced in San Diego, Philly International, Atlantic City & Indy, just name a few.
We must continue to be vocal & continue to fight the idiocy that is TSA!

cps - I'm not without appreciation/compassion/empathy for TSA agents. They ALWAYS have my respect and courtesy, especially with my flight-related anxiety. I also understand that flying is a choice, not a right. But opting of out the scanners, etc. doesn't mean I'm opting in to being treated like a second-class citizen.

I went through TSA in December 2010 and got the whole rigarmarole. I was in tears at the end of it and vowed to take the train or a bus next time....sheesh...Rude is the very least of what you could say about someone that forgot you are a human being.

I know how you feel. I usually have good experiences with TSA but this fall when I was leaving MSP to go to D.C. I was bullied into sending my sensors through the x-ray machine after repeatedly asking for an alternative screening. I eventually gave up and sent it through. I was furious.

Arrrghh!! I can't say anything anyone else hasn't already said, but just wanted to add my voice to the mix. This situation must have been so frustrating. ARrgh!

One time at Logan a TSA agent called me a "retahrd." I had a low blood sugar and was having trouble complying with instructions. Needless to say that person is no longer a TSA agent. I have a good friend who works high up in TSA and I called him to address that matter. This happened in 2005.

The first time I ever had to fly with my pump and dexcom, I thought I'd do it the right way, get a doctors note, tell them what everything was, ask for a manual search, etc etc etc. One hour later, after every pod, sensor, device, and everything in and around my diabetes bag was swabbed, scanned, and checked by the bomb squad (I'm not joking...big guy in a blue jacket that said "Bomb Assessor" on the back), I was 10 minutes from missing my flight. My boyfriend said that if looks would kill, everyone one of them would have been dead. Honestly, now I don't say a work, everything goes through the scanner and x-ray machine and nothing has malfunctioned yet, and I'm not at risk of not getting on my flight. But I'm gonna be super PO'ed when it does break. I'll just blame the TSA.

does anyone know how to get in contact with the staff/producers of
60 minutes?
what a story this would make !
BTW, Kerri, you look great on camera......=)

Seriously? This is what happens when you don't educate your own staff to the level you *attempt* to educate the public via your own website. If TSA's site authors know what an insulin pump is, what it does, and why it can't be removed from your body ... why the heck don't the screening agents? This is ... well, I'll say it: CRAZY. So sorry you - anyone! - has to go through this. It's nuts. And we're paying their salaries ...

Ugh. I've been through SFO (my home airport) with a Medtronic pump probably 30 times and haven't to deal with this kind of treatment yet. Wonder if some change of policy on their side has made them more jerky, or if you were just lucky in some combination of a-holes on duty that day. :(

Agreed Kerri...I too have had similar issues. I don't want to have to wear the darn thing all the time or have diabetes, but I do, so I do.

Thank you to the wonderful woman at TSA in Phoenix Az airport. You treated me with respect, left my dignity unharmed and chuckled with me along the way. I appreciate the way you handled my disease and my rights. Please educate your coworkers, particularly the ones in Baltimore.

I really notice a difference between airports in Canada and the U.S. I didn't realize that the scanner could break the pump tho so i always just walk through with it on me. They did make me stand in that special scanner last weekend in Syracuse bc of the pump but the worst part was that in order to bring rice milk on board for my two toddlers I had to subject myself to a screening with full body pat down etc. It seemed so ridiculous... what on earth does that have to do with rice milk in my carry on? It was such a gong show with me being unable to help my husband with our four young kids while they went through all my stuff, explained how they would pat me down and then did it. I actually couldn't keep a straight face, i kept laughing because it was so stupid.

This got me so fired up that I just wrote an email to Tara Parker-Pope, the Health Editor at the NY Times. This deserves a lot more publicity. There are just too many stories like this.

Amen.

Wow, I never knew the pump couldn't go through the x-ray machine. I have never had a problem, and put it through about 30-45 times (at least? I'm guessing). The schpiel I get from TSA is "you can leave your pump connected" when it is infinitely more time consuming and difficult for me to keep it connected, because then I have to get the pat down. Disconnecting and putting through the x-ray (although no longer an option, apparently) - is so quick and easy. My biggest problem is forgetting to re-attach the pump and remembering half an hour, sometimes an hour later. No good! Is Dexcom the same, can break in the x-ray machine?

This story is infuriating, Kerri, and I'm sure there are hundreds more like it. I hope you write a letter!

This is disgusting and i hope some one emails this story to the so called customer service manger or what ever he/she is called,Kerri you go and complain and right to the director of the TSA things like this should not happen to a lady for god sake,Its just dam right and staff seemed obtuse to you barbarian,

Kerri, like all of the previous comments, I too am sorry about this ordeal you had to endure. Honestly, I fly all the time (probably 2 weeks/month) and have taken my chances just putting the Dexcom in the tray and walking through with my pump clipped to my pocket, followed by the hand-swab-down thing. I haven't had a problem - not saying this is right or not.

But, really, I have a different reason for commenting. I agree the TSA is usually a pain, but I think the real fault here is the insulin pump companies. As a flight test engineer, I commonly test equipment for electromagnetic compatibility and I see no reason why the insulin pump companies can't be held to this same standard. Maybe with all of the connections you have, you could see what their holdback is? It would be interesting to know if their only reason is "money"? Is some extra testing and certification really that much to ask? (maybe it is, but I would like to know)...just a thought

Kerri, that stinks. Reading all these comments, I'm confused why people with pumps will not go through the full body scanner? I flew over 70 times last year and go through the full body scan every time wearing my Omnipod pump, with no problem. If it is even detected, I just tap it with my hand, hold out my hand for the TSA official to swipe my hand with the little white swab thingy. He/she puts the swab thingy in their super duper is it a bomb machine and in 5 seconds I'm on my way. Like a CGM, most TSA officials have never seen an Omnipod tubeless insulin pump, so I just say "yep, it's just a different diabetes thing mate."

Well said!!! They need to treat US better... like HUMANS!!

Kerri, please put this in letter form and send it to your US Senators and your Member of Congress. They have the means and the ability to demand that DHS standardize their screening for medical devices.

And, to everyone on here commenting: please request that the ADA have its lobbying arm demand action on this. People love to pile on lobbyists, but frankly this is the perfect example of what they are good for: educating members of Congress on the hurdles faced and pressuring them to act. But we, as the community they purportedly represent, have to let them know what issues (other than funding, funding, funding) are important to us.

I'm sorry you had this happen.

I know there are some bad people out there that want to hurt Americans, but this behavior from the TSA should not be tolerated.

You can send complaints about TSA violations of the American with Disabilities Act and other forms of discrimination to the email address for the TSA Office of Disability Policy and Outreach: TSA.ODPO@TSA.DHS.gov

I have discovered that the easiest way to travel through the TSA checkpoints with my Animas is to swap the lithium battery for an alkaline battery. Take off the clip, slip the pump in my bra or waistband, and pretend I don't have it on. Fortunately, most airports have both the body scanners and the metal detectors still, so I just get in the metal detector line. I have almost missed my flight for being detained to . get patted down and double checked. Not only is it embarrassing, but it is also stressful and uncomfortable.

I'm with you - TSA is, unfortunately, one of those government agencies in which {sometimes small-minded} people with thankless jobs and low paychecks can occasionally claim for themselves the right to be arrogant and sometimes downright rude to passengers. I wear loose, flowing religious garb all the time - with a vow of poverty, have nothing but - and every time I travel am always subjected to the most excessive pat downs. Fellow passengers are always very sympathetic - I don't even ask for the private screening room anymore, because I WANT other passengers to see what I am being subjected to - it's a travesty! Sometimes the TSA female agents are embarrassed and keep repeatedly offering me to go to a private screening room - to which I reply "No thank you - you can do what you have to do to me in the wide open view of everyone else."

I understand that TSA provides an invaluable service in keeping me and other passengers alive - for which I am eminently grateful - but they don't need to do it with a cocky attitude.

I am very gracious and friendly to every TSA agent I meet, and I thank them for their service. I don't very often hear an equally kind reply. This is sad.

I'm sorry you get subjected to this - I'm sorry we live in a world where this is necessary.

Same experience for me in Houston. TSA took my pump and put it into a "bomb sniffing machine." They also swabbed my hands for explosive materials residue. This was after the public display of "affection" I received in front of 1000 people. Meanwhile, my boss is off to the side, ready to go, looking over at me like WTH??? I try to be discrete about my T1, but this TSA experience prompted further explanation to the bossman.

Great post, thanks for writing it!! I have been singled out and harassed more times then I care to remember by the TSA for being diabetic. Yes, you do have the right to be mad!!!

I travel weekly for business, when I was in Hartford, CT in Nov. 12, a TSA agent wanted to inspect my pump and supplies by putting them thru the x-ray machine, I told him along with the card from Medtronics that it is attached to me by a Teflon tube and cannula, he went ballistic that I would not remove it. TSA supervisor and other passengers were present during this altercation. Needless to say I was escorted to a secure area and given a pat down, swabbed my pump, tubing and set. After all was completed I retrieved my belongings that were gone thru, during the reps king I noticed my vial of insulin was missing along with syringes. Inquired where these were and told by agent they were forbidden on the plane, I went ballistic and demanded to see the supervisor, he also stated that they were not allowed in carry on luggage. I showed them the medical allowances what is allowed and not allowed. Needless to say I did not get them back. I filled out a grievance sheet against the TSA agent and supervisor when I got home, realizing it probably would do no good. Lo and behold on March 21st I received a letter from Eastern office of the TSA who formally apologized to me and stated that these two individuals have done this to other diabetics. They were formally discharged and fired. Thank's to whatever looks after me I did not need the insulin or syringes that day.

I'm sorry all this trouble happened to you. It seems that there must be a review how TSA agents handle passengers with health devices. Let's hope there will be development in the future.

I guess I've been lucky. In Reno, the agents have been completely understanding and quickly cooperative. I tell them what my pump and CGM are, and they just do the hand swab. I suppose it must be worse in big city airports, where the lines are long, and the agents stressed. But I agree that it DOESN'T give them the right to be rude or snippy. And if they don't know their rules, then it should be reported -- they need to be looking out for REAL bomb threats, not medical devices. Maybe a lesson about medical devices should be a part of their training -- if they had SEEN the various pumps and CGMs before they even started working, they might do their job better. I think I'll write the TSA a note about that! :-)

Sigh... I can't honestly think of anything worse than TSA. I would rather visit a gynocologist, because they at least are fully aware and apologetic and polite about the discomfort and embarrassment they cause!

I've found that my best bet is to apologetically refuse to go through their machines (I'm sorry, I WOULD go through your impressive machine, but that darn pump company says absolutely not to, can you believe how silly they are?), stand my ground, and then as I'm getting patted down, swabbed, scrutinized and stared at, pretend I'm new at this and tell them that my pump manufacturer tells me absolutely not to go through the machines, but is there an easier way to get screened that doesn't take as much of their time (look dumb and innocent)? Usually they give me lots of options (bad ones) but it seems to take the edge off.

I agree though that the worst, the worst-worst part is the inconsistency in what happens at different airports, different regions, different TSA agents... If I knew without a doubt that each time I flew I was going to get the super-screening by an angry agent, I could prepare for that. If I knew every time I was going to be mildly-hassled but generally treated politely, I could handle that. If I knew that every time they understood what they were doing was ridiculous, but that rules were rules so we must do it... I could handle that too. But the inconsistency across airports is absurd, and it makes flying atrocious. I've missed flights before because of TSA; come within inches of cancelling trips because I just didn't want to deal with it (that was on top of pump and sensor drama the preceeding 2 weeks and a complete melt-down while trying to pack everything I needed for a 2week trip into a single carry-on bag only to find that literally half of my bag was taken up by D-related stuff and I couldn't find room for flipflops); and I've also been screened by some very polite agents who don't make me feel like a freak of nature.

Still though, those 5 out of 100 times when someone treats you like a threat to something pretend important and implies that you're both retarded and suspicious and are just in their way, it can ruin everything, and for no good reason either. I don't believe that any of this actually serves a purpose, as is pretty evident to me based on TSAs own "top 10" list: http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/01/tsa-top-10-good-catches-of-2011.html

I had the worst TSA experience in Nashville, TN in 2004 to the point that the other travelers gave me their business cards saying that they would gladly speak to TSA if they called. I have never felt so dehumanized due to my T1DM as I did. I will never return to Nashville, TN.

I'm human first, then a mother, then a wife, then a person with diabetes somewhere waaaaay down on the list. But first and foremost, I am not a national threat because I use modern technology to care for this dang disease.

Thought it was just me! Leaving cleveland they barely pat me down and the very young(looked 12) tsa agent insisted i could go through the scanner. But I politely declined and it wasn't a problem getting pat down. Phoenix Airport...totally different ballgame. When I politely declined the scanner they were insistent that I walk through the metal detector. I politely declined again and whipped out the letter from my doctors office and asked again for a pat down. The woman TSA agent literally started arguing with me about the fact that it was okay for me to go through the scanner and/or metal detector with both the dexcom and the insulin pump. She asked if spoke on a cell phone, and of course I said yes. She insisted that the cell phone gave off more radio waves than the scanner and was encouraging me to walk through. Couldn't take it anymore and asked for a supervisor. The supervisior tried giving me the same story. Finally got the pat down, had to lift my shirt so they could see the pump site and pull my pants up so they could see the dexcom. With all the diabetics in the world I couldn't believe I was treated this way! Makes me so mad!

Unfortunately, I can relate. Most of the time the TSA people are perfectly respectful and even act like they see insulin pumps and CGM's all the time. Last September I was on a return flight home from Palm Beach, FL. I opted out of the body scanner, simply because I had a brand new sensor on and didn't want to take the chance of it being fried going through. I pulled out my letter as well as the device id cards. The TSA agent insisted it was okay to go through. When I said no, she explained that by not going through I would be subjecting myself to a full pat down which would include her touching me in "private parts" through my clothes. She asked if I would like to do this in a private screening area. I actually felt more comfortable to have her do this in the open. I don't think there is a single part of my body that she didn't touch through my clothing--I found the extent of the pat down to be excessive. It was almost like she was getting a kick out of doing this because I refused her demands of going through the scanner. Most of the time it isn't a problem, it's as simple as showing them the pump, they do a swipe of my hands and the pump, and I'm on my way.

So sorry for you. This happens to me all of the time and everyone at TSA is always rude. While this is going on my family waits patiently for me to get through the TSA process - we always have to leave extra early b/c every TSA agent understands the rules differently and you never know what is going to happen.

I hope you sent this to SFO. With all the comments! So rude!

I apologize in advance if I missed a comment on this but has anyone printed out and shown the NOTIFICATION CARD for Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions??? http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/notification-card
My 21 yr old son travels extensively and whips this card out and has never had one problem. Even in countries where they don't speak English.

Wow! We have not had this hard of a time with our son. They have given him pat down as requested. I carry all supplies on and letters of documentation. I woner if TSA would like to pay the $$$$ to replace the pump or dexcom? My guess is no they would not.

My son & I are both T1. Thank you for posting. Although we live in Canada we have been 'pulled over', interrogated & frisked in numerous countries incl by the TSA. I have a detailed list of items for both of us, I strategically pack so most of it is obvious when scanned but I have been hauled over & flagged in the DR, Honduras, US, Canada, UK and Hong Kong. Other countries I have not. I will be signing the petition. Thanks for getting the ball rolling on this.

I hope this gets to TSA. They treat people with medical devices very rudely I think. They definitely need education on this!!!!!

2 years ago I went through Indianapolis and Denver airports for a round trip to Denver. I was treated with the utmost respect and I was so grateful for my TSA agents. I did not know that going through the scanner with my pump on might damage it. My doctor wrote a letter for me that said the pump could not be removed from my body so I took it through the scanner. Fortunately I did not have any problems with it. What I learned later was that the pump should be monitored closely while in the air because air pressure changes can cause it to malfunction and shut it itself down or deliver a unprogrammed bolus. Has anyone else heard about this?

Both my 7 year old son and I have T1D. Two months after his diagnosis, at the age of five, we took him through airport security. He was put through such an embarrassing and disrespectful pat down that he burst into tears. Since then, my husband holds my son's insulin pump and Dex when we go through airport security and pretends that the gear is his so that he and I both get the pat down but our children are spared. This has been great. Our three children wait patiently while we get the whole pat down and pump/Dex hand swabbing, quietly chuckling at TSA for thinking my husband has diabetes. The ever-so-sharp TSA agents never notice that my husband does not have either an infusion site or a Dex transmitter....

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