Traveling With an Insulin Pump
Always carry your insulin and insulin pump supplies with you on the plane. Have all your insulin and pump supplies in their original boxes, and make sure you carry the prescription label with your name on it. The name on your prescription should match what you have on your airline ticket. You don’t want to leave any room for questions or confusion. The airport staff can be extremely picky when they want to be.
Know what type of longer acting insulin you would have to switch to if for any reason you have your insulin and pump supplies taken from you. More than likely, your doctor would advise you to use rapid insulin when flying on a plane. If you don’t have your pump with you when you land, you have to use something else until you reach your destination. Always discuss this with your diabetes doctor in advance of the trip so that you have a good idea of how much NPH, Lantus or Glargine to use. This goes for rapid insulin as well. Remember, you might have a layover, so you need a back-up plan in case you and the pump get separated. Hopefully, you won’t have to put your pump in checked baggage – but it is a possibility. The key is to be prepared with insulin pens, vials of insulin and syringes in case you have to carry them on.
Always arrive at the airport early keeping in mind that anything can happen. This could be something like an airline agent insisting that you can’t take your pump with you, not even in your baggage that is checked. This way, you still have time to ship the pump to your destination. Of course, this may never happen, but there’s always a first time for everything.
Make sure you wear an infusion set that can disconnect. Be prepared to disconnect the pump and put it through x-ray. Most pumps are safe to go through x-ray machines. If you wear your pump concealed, it should not set off the hand-held security wand. But, there’s no real sense in taking the risk. If something is found concealed, it’s only going to cause suspicion.
Try to make sure your insulin pump alarms won’t go off. Make sure the reservoir is full, and put fresh batteries in it before leaving for the airport so that you won’t draw a lot of attention to yourself with raging alarms. Some people will tell you that doctor letters are too easily forged, but bring one to the airport with you anyway to explain why you have to carry diabetic supplies. If you are taking a long trip out of the country, have a letter from your doctor that reviews your medical history. This helps in case you need to see a doctor while traveling as well.
Always have the name of a doctor you can see when you are away from home. Be nice and patient at the airport. Standing in line might be a pain, but it’s better to be safe. If you are prepared for anything to happen, you will enjoy your trip, manage your diabetes and stay safe.