I know I’m a little late, but here is what happened when I flew to Amsterdam a couple of weeks ago.
At our local airport, they have a metal detector and, more recently, a body scanner. This scanner is designed to detect anything that might be hidden under clothing, such as a weapon or other items. This included my ostomy. I can’t say I was surprised by this as it has been picked up before when we last flew. The security guard was polite and, after scanning under my hood with a handheld scanner, she asked if I had anything on my stomach. I explained I had an ostomy and, to my surprise, she smiled and took me to a side room, along with another female colleague. She said she didn’t need to see my bag but didn’t want to scan it in front of people and chose to do so in the side room as this gave me more privacy. It took less than five minutes and they were both very polite and kind about the whole thing. They wished me a safe journey and that was that.
I have read some of the horror stories other ostomates have shared about their experiences when going through airport security (one had been asked to open their bag, another had their bag ripped off their stomach without their permission, ect). Needless to say, I was a little nervous, despite our previous time flying having been without incident.
Thankfully, I was able to put my mine at ease before even arriving at the airport by visiting their website. My local airport has a “special assistance” section which included a helpful “tips” pdf. Reading through, I found that not only were they part of the green lanyard scheme (which helps staff identify passengers who have a hidden (or not so hidden) disability or illness), but they have also done a load of training with a list of charities, including Stomaware and Crohn’s & Colitis UK. This means that their security are aware of sensitive subjects like IBD or a stoma, and know how to proceed without invading someone privacy or dignity. All in all, I was quite impressed with how they handled things.
Now, I don’t know if any of you have had to squeeze into the on-board toilet, but from previous experience, I didn’t want to have to go anywhere near our planes facilities, especially with my bag; the cubicle is tiny and I know output can be smelly and I didn’t want to be the one to stink out the entire plane. Thus, I decided I wasn’t going to use it. But how was I going to ensure my bag didn’t fill up whilst in the air? Simple; I took extra loperamide throughout the day and before boarding. I also made sure to eat a small, carb-filled meal (we were flying around dinner time) and a bag of jelly sweets. Thankfully, this worked. I would like to point out that this only worked for me because my output is usually quite watery. If it were ostomy-normal consistency, then I probably wouldn’t have needed to do any of this as the flight was only about an hour.
Conclusion: flying with an ostomy is way easier than I thought.
I would recommend anyone who is planning on flying with a medical appliance seek advice from your airline provided/airport. It can’t hurt to let them know before boarding.
Although not always necessary, a travel certificate might help if you are taking a lot of supplies with you. And if you are taking medication, always keep it in the original packaging. One last thing, put your medical supplies in your hand luggage. You don’t want them getting damaged or lost whilst in the hold.