Saturday, July 16, 2011

Airport Security and Pumping...PITA!

Tap, this thing on?

We have been out of town for the better part of 2 weeks and I there is no way I'm going to catch up on my blog reading. Or on my own blog!

I first wanted to write about our experiences flying with Adam's insulin pump. It reminds me of Kelly's TSA experience, except x4. I have read that many people have gone through security with no issues, so I wasn't expecting it to be a big deal. But honestly, it was a total pain in the a$$. Maybe my view on this is clouded because we took 4 flights in the last 2 weeks, and each one we had issues with security. Is it safe to just disconnect and run his pump through the x-ray machine? Because I am not going to put him through this again. If there was a set way to handle diabetics, it would be fine, but there were different rules and issues at EVERY SINGLE AIRPORT.

First 2 flights were at a smaller airport. Adam goes through the scanner and he alarms. I tell them he has an insulin pump and the TSA agent immediately pulls Adam aside and says he needs to be screened. I move to be with him and they say, "Don't touch him!"

Excuse me? Don't touch my 5 year old son? I'm about ready to pull my own bitch-switch on him.

Then they say if we want to go with him, we have to be patted down as well. Whatever. My husband doesn't want me to rock the boat, even though I'm ready to riot against it. Jason goes with Adam and gets the additional pat-down. They don't seem to know what to do with his insulin pump and look all confused while they pat him down and then consult each other on what to do with the pump. They finally decide to tell him to touch the pump then they swab his hands. Because, you know, I could have strapped a bomb to my 5 year old son.


Meanwhile, we have a confused little boy with people staring at us, adding 15 minutes to our wait time at security. PITA. Oh, and they never even mentioned the juice boxes I had stashed in his diabetes bag. Way to go, TSA. YOU ROCK.

On the trip home, it was even LONGER. In addition to Adam alarming (rinse, lather, repeat) they decide that since I am with him, they will need to go through MY bags. But no pat down for me. Go figure. Again with the "Don't touch him!!!" ridiculousness.

Our next 2 flights are at bigger, international airports. I was hoping the security would be more, uh...lax? This security stop had no issue with his insulin pump - he alarmed, we stepped aside and they swabbed his hands, that was it. BUT now they had an issue with his juice boxes and his contact lens solution!! So we wait another 10 minutes while they open Adam's contact lens case, open the saline solution, TEST IT, then SWAB THE FRICKEN' JUICE BOXES to test them (even though I said that we were allowed to take them through security due to his diabetes - as printed on the TSA website.) The grumpy TSA agent just grunted at me like I was trying to pull a fast one over on him.

On our way home, out of Denver, this security session takes the longest and is the most invasive. Adam goes through, he alarms, I say he has an insulin pump and the TSA agent looks scared and confused and pulls us aside. This time I have my arms wrapped around Adam on purpose, because NO ONE is going to tell me not to touch my son again. Plus, he's tired, feeling low and wants no part of this security business. So we wait...and wait. They call for a "male assist" to pat-down Adam. Then they need a "female assist" to pat me down. This takes forever for some reason, despite the place teeming with TSA agents. They finally pat me down first - and wow...this one was, uh...personal. Inside waistbands, inner thighs, etc. I didn't think I'd feel violated, but I kind of did. Especially this is all because of stupid DIABETES.

Then they move on to Adam. They do a quick pat down on him, but want him to take off his pump so they can inspect it. I say no. The TSA agent is barely over 20 years old so I stare him down and say, "Look, he can't do it himself, so if you want it off, I have to do it. He is 5 years old." I pull up his shirt and show him and he backs off and says, "Okay, it's fine." They make him touch the pump, swab his hands and we are finally on our way 20 minutes later.


I didn't think I'd be pissed about all of this, but I am. I understand the need for security and all that, but if you're gonna do stuff, be consistent! Don't act like my 5 year old is a criminal. Have some compassion for a cranky, tired little kid who doesn't want to be touched.

I think it will be awhile before we fly again.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear about the trouble you all had, especially Adam. I will definitely keep all of this in mind if we ever decide to fly somewhere. Our son is not on a pump so I'm sure I'll get hassled because of the syringes and bottles of insulin.

    I'm glad you're home safely!

  2. @Nikki - you know what? We didn't get hassled whatsoever with the needles and insulin! In fact, after the first flight, I told them about the d-bag with needles and full bottles of insulin, they didn't even inspect it! And every other time I didn't even mention it and it didn't get flagged...go figure!!

  3. It's the inconsistencies that really drive me crazy. Bean's bag went through with no issues in two of three airports, but was scanned and gone through and swabbed all over in another. My bag, with the snacks and juice boxes made it through just fine in two airports, but was just about turned inside out in another...and not the same one that went crazy with Bean's bag!
    Thankfully the pod doesn't set the scanners off, so we didn't have to deal with the pat downs.
    As disturbing as it is, I wouldn't be surprised if someone did strap a bomb to their child to get it through...if they are willing to die for a cause, they are willing to sacrifice their family, too. Sad, but true.

  4. Driving everywhere we go sounds better and better.

  5. I'm SO sorry you had to go through that. And that Adam did. : ( NOT FAIR.
    I've never told them anything, and Mary Claire has never gone off. The very first time we flew after we got her pump, I took it off, and sent it through the scanner, and didn't even think about it messing up the pump! : P I do think it's different at EVERY airport. Sux. Still sorry. Hope your trip was fun and made up for it? Happy birthday (again)! Hope it was great! : )

  6. Ugh, I am so sorry about all this. The TSA needs to get with it when it comes to little ones and pumps.

  7. What?! I guess it was the absence of an insulin pump that made the difference between us sailing through so many TSA's (even international!) and you getting pulled over by the idiots. Sorry the experiences made your travel so yucky.

  8. uggggh. so sorry your family had this experience! i agree, there needs to be more consistency in how they deal with these things. it can be so confusing to the little guys. :(