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GOING THROUGH AIRPORT WITH DIABETES IN 2020

With all that is going on with COVID 19 at the moment, a lot of us have to rethink how to go through airport when necessary. Traveling can be stressful, especially with diabetes.

It this article I tell you step by step how to stay safe and stress-free when traveling by plane with diabetes in 2020.

First thing first, make sure to be aware of and  follow the Government COVID 19 travel advices

Getting through airport with diabetes can be stressful. It is understandable if you feel uncertain or concern about going through security. I get it. You cannot afford to have your insulin and diabetes supplies not passing the security check.  The first time I travelled I was stressed about this too.

The good news is that the chances to not get through are very limited. Nothing will happen if you are prepared and have all the necessary documents with you.

BEFORE YOU GO

1. Understand the public health requirement of the destination country and restriction to re-entering your country.

2. Check the UK government website for the latest information.

3. In the UK you can get a Medical Device Awareness Card which cover both Continuous Glucose Monitoring and insulin pump. The card can be printed from the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) website.

4, Always put your insulin, pump accessories, CGMs, glucose monitor and other medical devices in your hand luggage. Insulin and electronic devices are unable to withstand the low temperatures in the hold of an aircraft.

5. Carry a doctor letter stating that you wear an insulin pump / carry insulin and medical equipment.

6. Bring a medical prescription and a diabetes identity card or bracelet.

7. You can contact your airline and let them know about your diabetes. Some companies will let yourset first on the plane to ensure your bags are placed close to your seat.

8. Finally but not least: to keep insulin cool, use medical approved iced bags.

When I first went for my first 6 months trip to Australia. I arrived at security and they took the ice bags from me living my insulin at ambient temperature during a 24 hours journey.

I WAS SO STRESSED THAT IT WOULDN’T ACT.
SINCE THEN, I ALWAYS USE MEDICAL APPROVED ICE BAGS.

9. Carry hydroalcoholic gel, wipes, mask and gloves with you.

10. If possible check in online.

11. Follow the  safer travel guidance during your journey to the airport.

 

AT THE AIRPORT

1. Wear masks, gloves and respect the social distancing rules .

2. Once you have entered the airport and checked in find your way to security.

3. Take your diabetes supplies out of your bag, place insulin pens and/or pump sets in a transparent bags. If you carry a large quantity of insulin in a cooler you can leave them there.

4. Notify a security agent that you are wearing a medical device / carrying medical material right away and before your bags go through the X-Ray.

5. If you have a pump chances are that when going through the walking scanner it will set up the alarm. To prevent to walk through the scanner and set up the alarm you can ask for a regular pat down by a security agent.

IF A PAD DOWN IS PERFORMED, INFORM THE SECURITY STAFF THAT YOU HAVE AN
INSULIN PUMP DUE TO DIABETES AND THAT THEY SHOULD BE CAREFUL TO NOT RIP IT OFF

DURING THE CONTROL – YES IT HAPPENS

The procedure is different between countries but you always have options depending on what you are comfortable with. Don’t hesitate to express them.

INSULIN PUMP MUST NOT GO MUST NOT GO THROUGH THE LUGGAGE X-RAY MACHINE

INSULIN PENS CAN GO THROUGH THE X-RAY MACHINE

This being said, if you are stopped, do not worry. Present your doctor letter and explain that you have diabetes and/or wear medical devices.

INSULIN PUMP AND CGMs

In general, insulin pump, infusion set, reservoir, and CGM system can withstand exposure to airport metal detectors used at airport security checkpoints.

YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY PROBLEMS GOING THROUGH THE WALKING SCANNER WITH

INSULIN PUMP AND/OR CGM.

If a full body scan or X-ray scan is requested by security, ask the security agent for an alternative screening method. If you prefer to stay connected, you can notify the agent about your pump and request to go through a standard metal detector wearing your pump / CGM.

THEY MUST NOT GO THROUGH ANY X-RAY SCANNER (E.I FULL BODY SCANNER)

Below are the advices from 6 device Manufacturers

The Minimed 530G System; Minimed 630G System – Medtronic:
  • Your insulin pump, infusion set, reservoir, and CGM system can be exposed to airport metal detectors used at airport security checkpoints.
  • Your pump should not go through the x-ray machine that is used for carry-on or checked luggage.
  • The full body scanner is also a form of x-ray. If you choose to go through the full body scanner, you will need to disconnect and remove your insulin pump, and, if using continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), remove your sensor and transmitter
    prior to the scan.
  • Infusion set should be disconnected at your site when going through the full body scanner.
  • To avoid removing your devices, you should request an alternative screening process that does not use x-ray.
Omnipod – Insulet Corporation:

Pod and PDMs can safely pass through airport X-ray machines. The pod and PDM can tolerate common electromagnetic and electrostatic fields, including airport security and cellular phones.

Accu-Chek Combo – Roche:
  • Insulin pump can go through the walk-through scanner, however it should be detached to go through the full body scanner.
  • Insulin pump must not go through the luggage X-ray machine. If the airport requires the pump to go through the X-ray machine at any point, check the instruction for use and remove the pump.
t:slim – Tandem Diabetes Care

As above the pump cannot whistand X-ray. Click here to download t:slim flying with your t:slim pump one pager.

Freestlyle Libre – Abbott:
  • Some airport full-body scanners include x-ray or millimetre radio-wave, which you the freestyle libre cannot be exposed to.
  • To avoid removing it, you can request another type of screening.
    o If you do choose to go through a full-body scanner, you must remove your Sensors.
  • Common electrostatic (ESD) and electromagnetic interference (EMI) and airport metal detectors are not a problem and you can keep your reader on while going through them.

6. Dexcom

  • Hand-wanding, pat-downs, visual inspections, and walk-through metal detectors are all methods that can be used without worrying about damaging your G6 components.
  • Let the Security agent know the sensor can’t be removed because it’s inserted under the skin.
  • Dexcom recommends hand-wanding or full body pat down and visual inspection to be safe.
  • Follow the instructions in the Dexcom G6 user guide
  • Dexcom created a “Notice of Medical Device” letter that can be filled by your physician and presented to the airport security. Click here to download. This can be filled out by your physician to explain what Dexcom CGM System is.

The fact that you’ve had an experience abroad, something that is out of the ordinary, creates a memory that will last for ever.

If you have any question or would like tailored advices for your upcoming trip, click here to contact us. We’re here to help!

JOIN OUR FB group AND CONNECT WITH OTHER DIABETIC TRAVELERS AND HEALTH PROFESSIONALS FROM ALL AROUND THE WORLD.

Sources:
Dexcom
Freestylelibre
Insulet Corporation
Medtronic
Roche