Going to Chicago, IL in April

So I am going to Chicago towards the middle-end of April for a friend's 40th b-day. A couple of weeks ago in preparation for this trip, I decided to schedule an appointment with my neurosurgeon who I had not seen since I was in the hospital. Mind you, I had no real memories of this wonderful man who saved my life. I guess being in a coma for 25 days and the other 20 days in drug induced hallucinations will do that to you. Although some of my hallucinations were rather hysterical as per my family and husband. Alas I ramble on, so I went to my neurosurgeon to make sure it was okay for me to fly and go through those scanners at the airport. Make sure it was safe since I have a VP shunt and it would totally suck if I survived everything and then royally screwed it up going through a scanner at Miami International Airport. As I was going to log into my emails through AT&T, one of those news reels below my log in caught my attention "Full Body Scans at O'Hare" so of course I had to watch the video news on this since that is the airport I am flying into and out of in April.

So as I am watching, they are showing how they work and let me tell you, if I go through one of those they are going be perplexed as to why I have things in my head and a long tube going from my head down to my abdominal cavity. So now I guess I gotta call my neurosurgeon's office and ask for a letter stating what they will find when they scan me so I am not subjected to a full cavity search! Like I would say in Spanish "Me caso en nadie....."

Hi Carolina,

I certainly understand your concern and maybe I can put those fears, uncertainties or doubts to rest. As you have already stated, obtaining a doctors letter verifying your medical condition and/or current treatments would be wise. Also let me add that I happen to be an Airline/Aviation professional who has been in the industry and have dealt with these types of situations before. I would suggest contacting the airline directly and have them notate your record that you will be bringing documentation with you on that day and also request that a supervisor escort you or at least contact the TSA on the date you are traveling. In most cases, having the information provided prior to your travel is very helpful.

However, you also want to take into consideration privacy matters as it relates to you. In other words, how much information do you really wish to reveal to persons you don’t know? That is certainly up to you and in the interest of making a smooth transition from the moment you enter the airport till you board the flight, will depend on who is on duty that day and how well they have been trained on situations like this. Keep in mind that after 9/11 many of the rules have changed as it relates to air travel and the ways in which business is conducted today is much different than before.

I hope this helps and doesn’t add to more confusion ;). By the way, I happened to have suffered an AVM many years ago so I certainly can understand your concerns.

Kind regards,


Hi Carolina, Good luck with any domestic air travel. Heed Michaels advice and his warning - no matter who you have spoken to, and how well you organise things beforehand, the incompetent ignoramus at the terminals you have to deal with will ensure you should have been there an hour and a half earlier than was originally required. We only had two internal flights in the states last year (both with United, and both where our situation was explained to the airline, from Australia, and then on arrival into LA , and Vegas, over six phone conversations) and the incompetents were still able to stuff us up. And good luck with a supervisor actually escorting you. On the positive side, try contacting another airline that will provide you with decent service. Please understand that i don’t boast to be an airline expert, just one of many bitten by airlines that say they’ll do something, and plead ignorance when it matters the most. Just the same, get all you can from your neuro, and have yourselves a lovely time when you get there. Regards Tony

Thanks guys, Michael your suggestions are great. I had not thought about contacting the TSA. When it comes to privacy though, my understanding from seeing the video on the whole thing is that if I don’t subject myself to the scan then I subject myself to a full body search/pat down by one of their people. I figure the full body scan was the least humilating. I am just gonna make sure the letter states that I VP shunt with drain tube that goes down to my abdominal cavity and an anneurism clip. That should do the trick. I will call the TSA offices and make sure that that will suffice.


Also I wanted to make you aware of some technical “stuff” that some travelers are not aware of. In your case, even though none of us wish to be labeled “disabled” I think that it’s important that you understand your rights as a person and in this case an air traveler. There are two important distinctions here and I will focus on the on one dealing with air travelers. Under the ACAA (Air Carrier Access Act) is another version of the ADA but only applies to persons who are traveling via air (airlines). The rules governing Airlines varies due to the unique nature of the method of transportation and it’s limitations by nature. I bring this to your attention because as Tony eluded to in his comment, the TSA does not always remain consistent in applying it’s own rules let alone a federally mandated one such as the ACAA.

However, this is not an option for anyone to follow and you most certainly have rights to protect you in your circumstance. A useful link detailing some of the provision under ACAA can be found here http://www.disabilitytravel.com/airlines/air_carrier_act.htm and you can review it and at least have an understanding of the provisions prior to your travel.

Best regards,