Airport Security.

I was thinking yesterday about all of the travel stuff from last week. The good news is that I didn’t have a single issue going through airport security. I rarely do.

But my observations of the security process, for myself and others, revealed that there are some things that I think could be better through the entire process. So taking the “It Takes a Village” viewpoint, here are a few suggestions for everyone:

For TSA Screeners: Can we get a little consistency here? I always point out that I’m wearing an insulin pump as I start the process. Yet sometimes, I get walked through the metal detector and waved on, just like any other passenger. Other times, I get directed to the full body scanner (which I decline based on guidelines provided by my pump maker—more on that in a minute), then to the full pat-down. Then finally, always finally, they do the “touch your pump with both hands” routine where I touch the pump, and my pump and hands get swabbed with something that looks like it came from the inside of a diaper, and the diaper-like product gets run through the machine to check for explosive residue. But TSA: If I had explosive residue on either, wouldn’t you want to know that first? Oh well… it always goes okay, and I don’t have the kind of modesty that bothers me to go through that process. Or maybe I realize that for most screeners, it’s more uncomfortable for them to do the pat-down than it is for me to get it. Although it kind of bothers whoever I’m traveling with. They get through security in seconds; I get through security in minutes (sometimes, many minutes).

Let me say also that I realize I’m in the minority here, and I completely sympathize with anyone who has an issue with this process… there must be a better, smarter, higher-tech way to do this. Full body pat-downs of kids or anyone else just because they’re wearing a medical device is ridiculous. I won’t waste time today going into the myriad of reasons why.

For medical device makers: Why can’t your devices go through full body scanners? Is it because you’ve never tested them? Is it because you’re not sure, and you’re just hedging? Is it because you truly believe that the scanner could foul up the software?

Whatever the reason, my suggestion is this: Fix it. Make your device good enough to go through the scanner. Or if you think it might be good enough, run it through a scanner a few thousand times to test and make sure. If you’re unwilling to do either of those, please communicate with TSA personnel to let them know, so we won’t routinely get directed to the full body scanner just because we’re wearing your device. My guess is your device will handle the scanner just fine. But I won’t know until I know I can go through the scanner for myself, without fear of invalidating my warranty. Wouldn’t you like to be able to say to kids, “You can go through security just like anyone else”? Again, it takes a village, okay?

And that brings me to:

Travelers: Actually, I don’t have any advice for you. Except to 1) Do your homework; 2) Get there early; 3) Be calm; and 4) Be nice to TSA staff. People have bad days, or their bosses are giving them a hard time about being extra diligent with the screening that day, or something else. The more we can take a deep breath and go with the flow, the easier things will probably be.

That does not mean that we should take any crap from TSA staff. When people are wrong about proper procedures, you are absolutely right to set them straight. When people are rude or unprofessional, you are absolutely right to point it out. TSA has a job to do at airport security. That job does not involve making us feel like we’re criminals if we didn’t get everything perfect before we hit their checkpoint today.

Okay, enough ranting. My point is, we all have a part to play. If we do our best, or at least try to do our best, we’ve done our part. Now let’s see if we can get the other players in this game to do theirs.

By the way, here’s the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website’s latest update, and a few links to pages that have travel information for various manufacturers:





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