Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Does TSA Really Care?

I only travel on an airplane maybe once a year. I'm not a huge fan of flying. My ears hurt and pop, things usually sound like they are under water after getting off the plane and I have a hard time hearing. I feel like I end up whispering or yelling because I can't tell how loud I really am.
For some reason security always makes me nervous and I don't know why, but it really does.
I'm not afraid of dying from a plane crash or anything, its just all the stress of the above. Then add my lovely companion "D" to the equation and it's all sorts of fun. Wondering if I'm going to go low sometime during the whole TSA check point process and act goofy or run high and end up feeling like crud while traveling.

We just got back on Friday from family vacay to Ft. Lauderdale, it was wonderful!


This was my first time flying with my insulin pump. Insulin pumps cannot go through the xray machine, body scanners or scanned with the luggage. Going thru any of these machines will scramble, completely drestroy the pump. You wouldn't think that this would be an issue with TSA but I've read that it can be.  I had read on multiple blogs among the DOC about the TSA Cares program, all of which was good feed back so I decided to give it a shot in hopes that it would alleviate some stress. Unfortunately for me, it seemed pretty worthless. Here is my experience....
We were to leave on Friday the 18th, I called the number for TSA cares 72 hours a head of time as I should have. Government was still shut down, my hopes were not high due to this. I talked to an incredibly nice lady who went over how things "should" go and who informed me that due to the shut down there may not be a passenger assistant to meet me once I got to the airport but she would note it in their system that I was requesting someone. If no one was available I should have no problem just asking for a patdown once I reached the TSA check point is what she told me. Thursday the 17th in the afternoon I received a call from a very nice gentleman at TSA Cares. Now that the government was no longer shut down they would have someone meet me when I arrived at the airport. Call when ten minutes away and he would let me know what to expect, who and where I was meeting someone is what he told me. Sounds good so far right? That's what I thought. Next morning I called like he said. He told me to ask for Amanda Woods when I got to the TSA check point. Okay, great, thank you sir. Get to that point, she wasn't working that day, but if I just let them know right before they ask me to step through the metal detector they will do a pat down no problem. Hmmmm.... Go thru the rest of the line, get to the front and inform the lady that I am unable to disconnect from my pump or go through the scanner or xray machine. She didn't understand, told me first to go down to the body scanner, I said politely but firmly no, I need a pat down please. My pump cannot go through any machine. She then told me to send it thru with my carry on luggage, again asked for a pat down. She still wasn't getting it and told me to just go through the xray machine. Again, I requested a pat down and this time she said she didn't understand. At this point an older TSA agent had walked up and finally intervened. She said she would do the pat down if my husband watched my stuff. She was very nice, explained what she was doing during the molestation, I mean pat down process. I know why they have to get so physical I understand but doesn't mean I'm comfortable with it. Finally, that was done and we were on our way.

This shows how stress totally affects blood sugar levels. Before going thru TSA and after.

Following Tuesday before our flight home on that Friday I received a call from Jim at TSA Cares out of Ft Lauderdale. He was nice enough, but he did mention that their new scanners were safe for all medical equipment to go thru and for everyone's convenience I should just go thru them. I explained to him a second time because he obviously didn't hear me the first time I told him why I was opting for a pat down. I said I understood it may not be the most convenient but I was not willing to take a chance with my $8,000.00 piece of medical equipment. Unlike the flight down he was at the checkpoint waiting for me when we arrived at the airport. He was nice enough I guess, yet after he had arranged for a female agent to pat me down he went into a whole schpeel again about how inconvenient it is to take time out to do a pat down and arranging for a passenger assistant. This takes people away from the stations that they are already working at and they are not always able to pull people right away when they are short staffed. He also said that I needed to do more research before I fly next time and I'll find that all their equipment is perfectly fine for my pump to go through. I'm not sure how many times I had already told him why I would only accept a pat down but by then I just wanted to find hubby and get to our gate. This guy was an awful representative of TSA Cares because he really didn't care. Will I try the program out again? I don't know. It will probably be another year or so before I fly again so it depends on if the program is still around by then and what I read about it in the DOC. My personal experience says that TSA does not care and that just asking for a pat down when I arrived instead of going thru phone calls gets the same results. At the same time I've worked customer service and delt with people long enough to know that the person representing may not necessarily reflect the policies, beliefs and attitude that the organization, company, or intuition would like to have reflected. With this being the case I'm sure that TSA Cares is meant to care, but sadly I didn't receive that experience.


  1. Oh goodness, I'm sorry you had to go through that! I was hopeful about the program but haven't gotten a chance to check it out yet.

    I'm not sure which pump you have but Minimed is safe to go through x-ray. I've had a Medtronic pump for 16 years and gone through many x-rays. I won't get close to a body scanner, even if they are "okay" to go through but the pump should be fine through an x-ray. With that being said, only do you what you feel comfortable with but I do think x-rays should be OK.

    Hope things go better the next time you fly!

    1. Hhhmmm.... I have the Minimed and both the nurse at my doctor's office and my CDE said that I shouldn't go through a an x-ray machine. There was even a card that came with my pump from Medtronic that specifically says to avoid them.... ???

  2. Shoot, I'm disappointed to hear you had such a cruddy experience. Since I had such a great TSA experience a couple of weeks ago going to and from L.A. I was hoping things had changed. I guess it's still just hit or miss. :(

    1. I figure its hit or miss. I'm actually hoping the guy in ft Lauderdale ends up having to help a few more pumpers.