Rachel Humphrey, whose 14-year-old son George (both pictured) has type 1 diabetes, said they were not allowed to board their connection flight from Dubai International Airport to London Heathrow after returning from the Maldives.
At the security gate, staff requested George’s insulin pump to be disconnected and put through the X-ray machine. But hospitals and insulin pump manufacturers advise that insulin pumps are not exposed to electromagnetic radiation because it may interfere with the device’s motors.
Mrs Humphrey, from Waterlooville in Hampshire, showed the official documentation and explained removal of the pump and subjecting it to the X-ray machine could cause medical consequences.
Staff refused to accept her explanation and escorted the family to the airport police room where they were held for two hours.
Mrs Humphrey said she felt the staff were “highly discriminative” and were “incredibly rude”. She added: “[They] showed no compassion or willingness to understand, help or support us.”
The issue was resolved after a doctor at the airport medical centre confirmed it was unsafe to detach the pump.
Mrs Humphrey said the stress and upset had caused her son’s blood glucose levels to rise and he was very distressed.
Staff then allowed the family to continue to travel with the insulin pump attached but the spare pump was confiscated and held by Emirates airline staff until they arrived at Heathrow.
Since arriving back in the UK, Mrs Humphrey has complained to the airport and Chris Garton, the executive vice president of operations at Dubai Airport.
Garton responded, saying: “You will be pleased to learn that I met with the head of Dubai Police security operations and airport Medical Services yesterday to understand why our procedures were not followed on your return journey.
“It was agreed all would reinforce the established procedures with staff. The well-being and safety of our passengers is of paramount importance and we greatly appreciate you bringing this issue to our attention.”
Over 2,300 people have signed the document and Mrs Humphrey said: “The comments received from other insulin pump users reveal indisputable evidence that confusion regarding insulin pumps at airport security is prevalent and a global issue, which not only causes stress for the diabetic but can also quickly become a life-threatening emergency.”