Air travel with pump

Ok, so have been on insulin pump for one year now and am planning a trip to New Zealand, Yay! But it is a long flight and wondering what the consensus is with pumps and xrays, scans etc. Did read thru the airports and needles post. Is it ok for the pump to go thru these machines, does it work just the same in air and on the ground, just wondering!!

@Kiwigirl Helen, you are allowed to declare medical devices and in the US they will not be run through X-ray. In New Zealand however it may. Many pump manufacturers say not to x-ray

I always just put my pump through x-ray because I don’t have time. Nothing happens to me.

Pumping on a plane is the same however I need more basal. I set my temp basal to 133% and I am fine. Some users here report lows when flying. Just set a personal record of 18 hours on temp basal (flew to Singapore). When in doubt, Just test more.

Enjoy your trip and holiday

Thanks Joe, will check with dr re basal and also airline, u have Obviously traveled long flights, carrying all the pump paraphernalia is my other concern, just have to pack well with my carry on!! Thanks

Hi Helen, I have traveled with my pump and CGM many times. Here in the USA I just let the TSA agent know I have medical supplies that cannot go through x-ray and that I also cannot go through the scanner due to the medical equipment I wear ( I tried the body scanner once, and had trouble with my CGM for the next 24 hours or so). TSA will have you remove anything that cannot be x-rayed from your carry-on**. Then the rest of your carry-on items will be put through the x-ray while they hand check whatever you take out and hand to them. Meanwhile, you will receive a pat-down if you do not want to be scanned.

I have only traveled overseas once. On that trip, I found that the security outside the USA was much easier to deal with. I told them I was a diabetic and had medical supplies and they just said, “Okay,” They did not do a pat-down, but just asked what equipment and all I had to do was show it to them (both on me and what was packed in my carry-on).

The TSA website has information on what is needed here in the USA, and I’m sure you can find information online as to what is needed in New Zealand as well. Another thing I would suggest it to check with the manufacturer of your pump. The TSA meets with all of the manufacturers to test how the products react to the x-ray and scanners. So, the manufacturer will be able to tell you what is safe.

Pam K
T1D 54+ yrs and counting!

**Make sure you have the prescription labels and/or a letter from you doctor explaining what you are carrying and why.

Thanks Pam, good info. Will do all the above!

Glad I could help! Have a great time on your trip!

In addition to all this great info, don’t forget to bring back up supplies in case something happens to your pump: insulin pens ( short and long acting) with needle tips and an extra glucose meter. Even a few syringes couldn’t hurt. It’s easy to lose things that may be hard to replace overseas, and better safe than sorry. I know it’s a lot of stuff to carry, but you’ll be glad you did if you need them.

Have a great trip!

Joy, 43 years and still here!

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Good information in previous comments. Don’t put the pump through X-ray, could damage the unit. Ask your doctor for a letter on letterhead stating you are diabetic and listing all the supplies you may have with you including liquids like juice boxes. TSA will let you through with all of it, but you will have to go through special screening so build in an extra 30 minutes minimum for that process. Also, have all your supplies in a single bag or bag + backpack, to minimize the number of bags that get extra screening. Don’t check any critical supplies and have everything you need including food/drink that covers you through unexpected delays or cancellations. Supply redundancy is the name of the game when traveling and be prepared for what never happens normally. For example, if your pump malfunctions have syringe back up. Some pump companies will give you a back up loaner for international travel.

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helen, i actually disagree with below of increasing the basal rate…

my thoughts are that you’ll be up in the air for that long of time, you may as well cut back the basal a little to see how your BG does… it’s way easier and less stress to run a little on the high side while flying and in the air for that long as opposed to being or staying low etc.

best of luck though

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Like Joe, I just returned from a trip to Singapore (18 hours) and in December went to Australia/NZ (13 hours). One thing to keep in mind is open insulin vials (which you have already drawn on). The cabin is pressurized, so no problem. It an open bottle is checked and ends up in the cargo hold, which is not pressurized, it will leak and often be empty upon arrival. Another thing to check before travel is how much insulin you have remaining. On my 18 hour flight, with extra meals, I ran out of insulin in my pump reservoir. I had the supplies to reload, but it is not always easy in public or the bathroom. One option is to have a reservoir pre-loaded, which makes changing this out somewhat easier. Of course you have to rewind and then detach the tube to prime, but you can use the existing tube.

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Oh my! Yes David will definitely keep that in mind, luckily we are going to NZ via Hawaii so the flight is way less than the usual long haul. Will keep all vials insulin with me, great idea with the pre loaded reservoir!! Thanks!!

Will discuss this with Dr but would prefer to run high versus low so thanks!!

You’re welcome! Couldn’t agree more

Like I said, I have a little sense of “anxiety” when flying when I think of going low so for me, keeping it around 170 for flight puts me wayyyyy more at ease. Again,that’s just me…


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Just checking, preloaded reservoirs are good to go on flights? As opposed to opened vials? ?

If you are asking if the reservoirs will leak or not, I haven’t had a problem. Vials already used (ones which have have been pierced) which are put in checked baggage and end up in the cargo hold may leak. It is typically not pressurized, which forces the insulin out of the vial.

hello all - as a PSA I’d like to make 2 comments:

  1. never “check” insulin (put it in luggage and let it disappear onto the conveyor to be picked up at the final destination). it’s easy enough to keep in a “personal item” which you are allowed to bring into the cabin, and keep on your person, at all times.

and 2) cargo holds are indeed pressurized. but they aren’t to the extent the main cabin is pressurized nor is the cargo hold heaters kept at “comfort” levels.

by keeping your most important stuff on you, you reduce any chance of something… .like your insulin, from getting lost and increase your chances of having a really great travel experience.

cheers and safe travels to everyone.

You didn’t mention the type of pump you have, so best to check with the manufacturer for their recommendation for security checks.

Whether at altitude or not, the G6 that I use works just fine and actually makes adjusting to time zone changes much easier than just taking insulin via syringe.

That being said, I haven’t had any issues with the pump, and go through the metal detectors with no issue. Dexcom does not recommend the G6 to go through the millimeter wave detector machines so I avoid them.

You might want to get the Trusted Traveler (GOES) pass which makes going through security easier.

Will have all my items with me!!! Thanks!

Will check with the GOES pass, thanks a bunch! It’s a 670 G Medtronic pump, have called them with regards to air travel. Thanks!

Global Entry is really great if you travel outside the US often and saves time on reentry to the US but Mobile Passport is free and can also save time for infrequent international travelers. TSA pre check will also allow expedited screening if you travel within the US or US outbound for international travel at $85 it’s less expensive.