In May of 2012, after reading about a friend having problems getting their insulin pump through security at a US airport, I did some research on the subject.
Should you put your pump through the x-ray machine? Can you wear your CGM through a full-body scanner? There were a lot of questions in 2012 and there still are in 2018 so I reached out to a few friends in the industry to see if things have changed at all. Here is what you need to know when you are traveling with an insulin pump or CGM
If you wear a Dexcom®
The Dexcom® G5 is cleared to take through metal detectors, be hand-wanded and be worn during flights. There are a few situations to be concerned about, however.
NEVER put your receiver or extra sensors through an x-ray machine. Ask the security personnel to do a hand-check of the items to avoid permanent damage of these devices.
According to Dexcom®, the effects of full body scanners on CGM components have not been studied. It is therefore recommended that you do not take your Dexcom® through one.
Once you are through security and on your plane waiting for takeoff, make sure to set your app to airplane mode, keeping the bluetooth on and leave your receiver turned on.
If you use FreeStyle Libre
The Dream Big Travel Far blog contacted the people at FreeStyle and asked what the guidelines were for air travel with the Libre. This is what they reported.
“We recommend the user notify security personnel when going through airport security screening. the user can go through X-ray machines while wearing a sensor. We recommend the reader be powered off during a flight and not used for scanning a sensor. However, the strip port on the reader can be used to take blood glucose or ketone readings during flight. Turning on the reader with the Home Button will activate the radio. The user must turn on the reader by inserting a test strip so as to not activate the radio.”
If you wear an Omnipod
Good news for Omnipod users! You can wear the pod through the metal detector, x-ray machines and full body scanners with no worry. The PDM can also go through the X-ray. Insulet does recommend that if you are selected for a “pat down” you disclose that you are wearing the pod.
If you wear a Medtronic® insulin pump
Medtronic® insulin pumps can be worn through metal detectors and be wanded. They should NOT be sent through x-ray machines however.
Medtronic® also notes that your sensor and transmitter must be removed if you are going through a full-body scanner. If you do not want to remove your sensor, you can ask to be pat down instead.
If you wear a Tandem® t:slim X2™ insulin pump
Tandem® t:slim X2™ can be worn through metal detectors and can be wanded. They should not be sent through x-ray machines.
Changes in air pressure cause bubbles to form in insulin, and the related expansion can cause unintentional insulin delivery. This is NOT a problem in the Tandem pump.
The pumping mechanism used in Tandem pumps isolates the insulin reservoir (bag) from the user line, so if bubbles are formed in the cartridge due to pressure changes, the internal bag will expand, but no insulin will be delivered to the user from the reservoir. The only volume in line with the user at any given time is the insulin in their infusion set and cartridge tubing, and the contents of the 0.3 unit Micro-Delivery chamber.
There is no need to turn off your t:slim X2™ during takeoff or landing. This system runs on Bluetooth which can operate during flights. If you are also using a Dexcom CGM that you are viewing with your smartphone, turn the phone on airplane mode and then turn on Bluetooth.
If you wear an Animas® insulin pump
Animas® insulin pumps can be worn through metal detectors and can be wanded. They should NOT be sent through x-ray machines.
Animas® pumps should not be worn through full-body scanners.