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    • #16250
      Kathleen Sheffer


      Hey everyone! It’s been a busy week for me – sorry for being out of touch. Currently, I’m waiting at my gate to fly to Kansas City. My boyfriend and I are visiting his parents this weekend. Lucky for me, his TSA Pre Check somehow got applied to both of us so we got through the security line quickly and I’m able to write this while we wait.

      When I had PH and was on an IV pump before my transplant, getting through security checkpoints was a hassle. I still plan to arrive way ahead of time whenever I fly because I’m accustomed to everything taking much longer. My anxiety about getting through security persists despite having several smooth experiences since my transplant.

      What experiences have you had with airport security?

      My earliest memory of airport security is of a TSA agent grabbing my pump (in a backpack) off my shoulders and trying to put it on the conveyer belt. I was about seven years old, and my mom was NOT happy. We quickly learned to notify all the agents ahead of time that I was traveling with a medicine pump connected to me that could not come off.

      Each time, I had to go through a pat-down, and that became extra scary after 9/11. Soon after the attack, my mom and I traveled to New York City to see my specialist at Columbia. Soldiers carrying machine guns were there to greet us. Quite a scene for a third-grader!

      Now that I’m not on a pump, getting through security is easier. However, I still travel with a lot of oral medication, including liquid medication. To protect myself from illness, I wear an N95 mask in airports and on planes. The TSA agents sometimes give me attitude for the mask. Once, I had to show a doctor’s note to wear it through the body scanner.

      The biggest difference since my transplant is my energy level going through these checkpoints. With PH, it can be exhausting to carry bags, lift them onto the conveyor belt, remove shoes and jackets, and put them back on.

      Do you find the process of airport security energy-consuming? What tips do you have for making it easier?

      I probably travel enough for TSA Pre Check to be worth it, but I’m cheap so I’m not paying for that. If you can afford it, that would probably make things easier.

      Thinking ahead can make the process easier. Pack your bags strategically so anything you need to pull out (including medications in clear plastic bags) is easy to access. Wear shoes that slip on and off.

      What other strategies do you have?

    • #16272

      I have been ok but my only carry on problem is my portable oxygen it causes me to be thoroughly inspected every time. Plus my mast cell stabilizer comes in foil packaging so that always suspect. In the end I feel safer bc they are thorough. I’m thankful I still travel with little issue.
      We are spending more time in San Diego CA as it’s much easier on my body then the Florida humid air.

      • #16277
        Brittany Foster

        Hi Judie,
        I went to Florida to visit a friend a few years ago and they held the conference for congenital heart disease there. Safe to say I know why every single place you go has the A/C absolutely BLASTING ! I cannot deal with the humidity at ALL it is so bad for my breathing, even worse than the bitter cold air.

        I remember travelling with the portable o2 and it needed to be inspected and sent through a special machine and I had to take the oxygen off for a short amount of time too in order to step in the xray they have. I’m glad they take the proper precautions. I go through the shorter line for those who are disabled and let the airport know ahead of time what my needs are and usually there is always someone there to help make things runs smoothly !

    • #16279
      Ann Goddeyne

      The TSA has a medical card you can carry. It alerts them to the fact you may need special accommodations for screening. You still go through screening. I only need oxygen and use a wheelchair in the airport. I usually fly SWA. The screenings and boarding have all been easy.

      • #16280
        Brittany Foster

        Hey Ann,
        That’s good information to know. I didn’t know about the medical cards that you could carry. Do you get that through the airport itself or through the individual airline that you are flying on? Thank you for sharing that! It definitely is helpful especially with holiday travel coming up!

    • #16281
      Joanne Sperando

      it’s really up to the patient or caregiver to point out to airport security that you have an issue. My brother was on an IV pump for 20 years before he passed and when he approached security, he’d take his pump out of the fanny pack he carried it in and say “I need a hand check. this is my medical pump.” He never had a hard time. I’ve been wearing my subQ pump for 20 years now and it’s never set off any alarms, but several security folks have seen the tubing or the outline of the pump in my pocket and asked about it. I’m often taken to the side and quickly checked/scanned. Never had a significant issue.

      • #16284
        Brittany Foster

        I’ve never had much of an issue with this either and I’m glad things went pretty smoothly for you when you were going through the check. Usually it just requires a little extra “patting down” since some of us can’t go through some types of scanners. I can’t because of my pacemaker and have a card with me that states this if I’m questioned about it (which honestly they never question me when I tell them that I can’t go through because of my pacemaker and I don’t think I’ve ever even had to show my card for “proof”) . The experiences I had have been very professional and pretty quick too.

    • #16738
      Cindy Bee

      I know it is exhausting if you have to walk to gates in large airports. People are in a hurry and walking slow some seem irritated that I do. I am just happy to see a place to sit and catch my breath.

      • #16741
        Brittany Foster

        You’re so right, Cindy
        It’s so hard to stay away from all the hussle and bustle of airports and usually the long security lines. If I fear waiting long in lines for security or don’t think I can stand around for too long I make sure to arrange for a wheelchair provided by the airport and usually go in through a disability access which is a different line than everyone else especially because I can’t go through metal deterctors so have to get patted down instead. People tend to huff and puff all the time when they see me taking it slow, most just see what’s on the surface and don’t take into consideration “why”.

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