Airport security one pacemaker at a time

 Many newbies have concerns about airport security. I have always told them, "It's not a problem. Just keep moving as you go through the scanning machine."

At the Raleigh-Durham airport security checkpoint, this time, there was a big sign pointing pacemake-people to a different kind of scanner altogether. This machine had footprints you were suppoised to stand on, arms upraised. Then, once outside it, you were manually searched about the shoulders.

I went through, then my friend who also has a pacemaker--but for a different diagnosis--went through.

At Charles DeGaulle, the sign on the regular scanner said, in French,and in international symbols, "No pacemakers." Although I doubt if there would be any problem, I figure the people running these machines know more about them than I do. So I admitted I had a device, and was pointed to a different, much shorter, line.

My friend attempted to follow me. "No!" she was told. The security lady pointed empahtically to the other line.

"I have a pacemaker too," my friend told her.

Suspicion darkened the security lady's brow. She looked from one of the litlle old ladies before her to the other, clearly caluculating the odds.

She pointed to me. "She has the pacemaker!" Her expression clearly said, and only one is allowed.

I smiled. Sweetly, I hoped. "Yes, I have one and she has one too. We, both of us, have pacemakers."

After a you'd better not be fooling me or Bad Things will Happen to you look, we were waved on to someone who patted us each down.

So what I would tell newbies today is security works differently in differeint places. It really isn't a problem no matter how it's done. But if both you and your travel companion have pacemakers, sometimes there will be suspicion that you are either (a) terrorists or (b) trying to skip the long line. 




They really don't know anything....

by crustyg - 2019-09-22 16:50:22

Walked straight through the metal detector arch at Gatwick in Aug (nothing, not a peep) and the one in Tenerife South in Sep - again, nothing.  They didn't like all the non-computer electronics in the carry-on bag, but that's another story.  TFS security make up the rules as the go - they really *hate* my SCUBA video light - it has a *huge* battery and lots of control electronics, and it can't go in the hold...

Any pacemaker+leads that's MRI-safe is *never* going to show up on a system that is looking for ferro-magnetic material.  The MRI magnet is going to be 10,000 times, or more, more powerful than the pulsed field of the 'metal' detector.  The microwave scan can probably see the outline of my PM, the resolution is that good, but they hate a handkerchief in a pocket.

Still, it's good that the self-important, officious know-it-all learned a lesson: *never* mess with little old ladies - they are TOUGH!


by Tracey_E - 2019-09-24 10:39:35

I wonder if that's something they run across often, friends faking that they both have pacers? lol

Crusty, I'm convinced UK security makes it up as they go along. They made me take off my seabands bracelets and wedding rings. Seabands are fabric with a little ball of plastic, in case you didn't know, they are for motion sickness. I never mentioned the pacer and walked on through, after taking off my seabands, watch and wedding ring lol. My husband has a tiny little flashlight on his keyring, they made him separate them before putting them through xray. This was Manchester on a layover, we were escorted off the plane straight to security, so we'd already had an overseas flight so I didn't understand why they were so much more cranky than main security when you walk in off the street. We didn't have any trouble at Gatwick, they were easy. 

You are so right

by crustyg - 2019-09-25 14:55:25

There appears to be no standardisation at UK airports - we've had this 'discussion' with them several times.

All the decisions - leave your lovely expensive smartphone out on the trays to be stolen post scan, put it inside your carry-on luggage, etc. - are all made locally.

Sadly, it's all a joke.  If they were really serious about Security they would a) really tighten up airside staff working - LHR recently stopped a baggage handler who had been removing special suitcases directly from the aircraft holds and getting them out of the airport undetected for years, and b) start being honest about the need to profile and really scrutinise folk who are high risk.  And no, that's not a skin colour issue...

But airport security for the self-loading freight (that's us) is a nice talking point.

USA airports vary as well.....

by BOBTHOM - 2019-09-26 22:30:21

Some airports in the US vary as well.  In Atlantic City NJ you go through scanned doors when you exit the terminal, really strange.  In Wilmington NC they insist on walking through scanners.  In Las Vegas they insisted on not going through scanners and hand patting instead.  I just have my ID card out with my boarding pass and ID and go where they tell me as I know the newer scanners are fine with MRI compatible devices such as mine.  If the equipment looks old I request a hand pat down.


by AgentX86 - 2019-09-27 11:21:48

Changing routines and passenger requirements only helps security (if that's really their intent ;-). If there is a bad guy trying to cause trouble, it's good that they don't know what to expect.

When I get into line, I just look at how they're proceeding. If they're using the xray machines, I don't bother telling them that I have a pacemaker. If they're using the magnetometer or hand wands, I'll hand over my card and request a pat down. I've been told to refuse any magnetic scanners.

I go like everyone else

by Pacedmyruns - 2019-10-01 03:03:02

I never say I have a pacemaker. I go through like anyone else. Never an issue. 

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So, my advice is to go about your daily routine and forget that you have a pacemaker implanted in your body.