A family is demanding change after being held by airport security for two hours and denied access to the aircraft because of their son’s insulin pump.
Rachel Humphrey, her husband and 14 year old son George – who lives with type 1 diabetes – were due on a connection flight from Dubai International Airport to London Heathrow after returning from a holiday in the Maldives.
The family, from Waterlooville in Hampshire, flew out to the Maldives via Dubai on 29 May this year and on that outward journey proceeded through security with no issues and informed the staff of the insulin pump, showing the official documentation. The staff excluded the pump from the x-ray machine.
However on their return connecting flight on 4 June, their experience was very different. At the security gate at Dubai International Airport an officer stated that their son’s insulin pump must be disconnected and put through the x-ray machine. Rachel displayed the official documentation and explained removal of the pump could swiftly cause medical consequences. The security team were adamant the pump must go through the x-ray machine.
After expressing concerns regarding removing the pump, Rachel claims the family were escorted to the airport police room where they were held for two hours, despite repeatedly presenting the official documentation and explaining the consequences of removing the pump.
Travelling can be stressful at the best of times, so travelling with type 1 diabetes can make things even harder.
The family were moved to the airport medical centre where a doctor confirmed to the accompanying officer that what Rachel had explained was correct. By this time, the family had been in the police room so long that they were in danger of missing their connecting flight. The stress and upset was causing George’s blood glucose levels to rise and he was visibly distressed.
Finally, Rachel says she was informed they could travel with the insulin pump attached but that his spare pump would be confiscated and held by airline staff until their arrival at Heathrow Airport.
Rachel explains that the Dubai Airports website, which includes Dubai International Airport, states under ‘Special Assistance’ that they:
‘…pride ourselves on making our airports and services accessible to passengers with restricted mobility and special needs.’
The website says all passengers need to do is inform their airline in advance. Rachel informed the airline of her son’s type 1 and how her husband is registered blind. Despite this the family experience received treatment Rachel calls:
‘highly discriminate and incredibly rude with no compassion or willingness to understand, help or support us.’
Rachel has started a petition calling for a standard policy on insulin pumps in all airports. To find out more click here.