Air travel (all types of travel, really) can be stressful for anyone. For the millions of people living with diabetes in the United States, there can be additional challenges. Because wherever you go, your diabetes comes with you!
If you wear diabetes devices, such as an insulin pump, it’s wise to learn about the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) rules that might affect you. Then there is the challenge of figuring out how much extra time you might need to get through airport security to make your flight on time.
Erin Argueta, from Stamford, Conn., has type 1 diabetes, wears an insulin pump and has visited over 100 countries around the world. She also travels several times a year for her job as a business analyst. Through this experience, she has learned to allow extra time at the airport, as the security process for her involves a pat-down search, rather than regular x-ray screening. (An airport body scanner is not recommended for her particular device because it can cause it to malfunction.)
On one occasion, Erin had a flight scheduled for a business trip. She let her supervisor know that she would need to leave work 30 minutes earlier than an employee typically would, in order to make the flight. She explained that the TSA’s pat-down searches can involve unexpected delays. But Erin’s supervisor then warned her that, if she left early, she could be written up and disciplined for not obeying the rules.
So, Erin contacted the American Diabetes Association for help.
One of the Association’s Legal Advocates (a lawyer experienced with diabetes discrimination cases) told Erin about her legal rights. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Erin could ask for a “reasonable accommodation” from her employer. In this case, that meant Erin could ask to leave earlier to get through airport security in a timely manner. Once Erin better understood her rights, she sent a more formal request to her employer that included information about the law and a supportive letter from her doctor.
The result? Erin was given the accommodation she needed: to leave work earlier and get to the airport in plenty of time.
Erin says, “I would like to thank the American Diabetes Association for the help I received with this matter. Having lived with type 1 diabetes for over 42 years, and having traveled a lot, this was the first time I have ever needed help with a travel matter. The Association is remarkable in standing up for the rights of people like me who have ‘invisible’ disabilities that others so often overlook. Thank you, American Diabetes Association and your amazing Legal Advocate!”
The American Diabetes Association leads the effort to prevent and eliminate discrimination against people with diabetes at school, at work and in other parts of daily life. If you need help, call 1-800-DIABETES or visit http://diabetes.org/gethelp.
Give the gift of fairness — donate now to help people with diabetes facing discrimination, just like Erin: