How to convince airport security that I am not dangerous when having metallic parts in my body?

  • I had an operation some time ago and now I have small screws in my shoulder which will not be removed anymore. When I decided to fly for vacation, I supposed that these will may bring me into trouble at the airport when going through the metal detector.

    So I asked my doctor and at the hospital if there is any kind of "passport" or something similar which confirms the screws in my shoulder so that I do not get into many problems. Unfortunately, they told me such things do only exist if you get a new knee or something, not if you just have a few screws in your body.

    When I flew from Vienna to Amsterdam and back, my fears were confirmed: The security staff inspected me very precise, and I had to explain them my story. Thank god I have some scars left so they believed me!

    However this is not a permanent solution for the future. Is there any international "passport" which my doctor and hospital do not know about? If not, what else are my possibilities?

    I am not that afraid when travelling within the EU, however I fear that this situation might get quite dangerous when I'm in other countries...

    @LiamWilliam: With any operation there's the risk of something going wrong. Don't do surgery unless there is a good reason. I have some metal bits which are useless now, and they stay for that reason.

  • Thorsten S.

    Thorsten S. Correct answer

    8 years ago

    When I flew from Vienna to Amsterdam and back, my fears were confirmed: The security staff inspected me very precise, and I had to explain them my story. Thank god I have some scars left so they believed me!

    It is not a problem. There are many, many people with metal implants and the standard procedure is simply explaining your condition after an alert is raised. You are singled out and checked with a hand induction device. You need not to be afraid, this is standard practice.

    However this is not a permanent solution for the future. Is there any international "passport" which my doctor and hospital do not know about? If not, what else are my possibilities?

    You are wrong on this account, it is the permanent solution. The idea of checking you is to rule out the possibility that you smuggle something on board.

    Think about it: If there were "passports" from a doctor, the very first thing people who want to smuggle something into the plane is to falsify such documents to avoid detection. Or even nastier, coerce people with a real "passport" to smuggle something involuntarily on board.

    It also does not help that the personnel will not be able to check the given "passport" in a reasonable time because your condition is part of medical confidentiality and your personal privacy.

    So simply explain your condition and wear comfortable clothes which makes it easy to check your shoulder.

    EDIT: Another problem with the idea of "passports": Even if you have a passport, the personnel still needs to check you because you can still try to smuggle another thing on board. So a "passport" makes absolutely no difference. I suppose the "passport" for bigger implants informs the personnel that their detector is functioning normally when it detects copious amounts of metal on your body.

    EDIT II: If you have several metal implants on different body parts, I consider it a good idea to have X-rays with the implants available so that the personnel can easily cross-check their detector findings with the implant locations.

    Where do you know from that this is "standard practice"?

    My brother uses a wheelchair and has a steel plate near his spine, so they have to check him manually every time. And I myself forgot my pocket knife and was singled out, too.

    @w4rumy I've heard the same from other sources, including my mother who work in airport security. Every day many passengers pass through with metal implants. It's nothing new. No big deal, they just use their hand scanners and verify it's an implant.

    I do exactly what is suggested on the second edit. I carry around on my wallet a small (credit card sized) print of my x-rays, with a very brief (one sentence) description of the implant (e.g. the number and kind of screws) written on the back. As I travel frequently I even have this written in a few different languages. I also think it is useful to always have a card like this with you anyway, in case you find yourself unconscious in some unexpected accident, it will be useful to doctors caring for you to know this information in advance!

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM