There are a wealth of reasons that someone would get a metal implant – from metal-on-metal (mom) hip devices to dental implants to metal plates secured to repair breaks and fractures; many people around the world have some form of metal implant. In fact, in the UK alone, 71,000 have received a metal-on-metal hip device, according to the NHS.
Metal implants can offer people a new lease on life, helping to bolster previously painful and unyielding joints or repair painful issues. However, there is one thing that can be especially daunting for those with metal implants – metal detectors!
As experts in travel medical insurance, we’re well aware of how daunting travelling with any medical issue can be. Going through airport security can be nerve-racking at the best of times, from wondering whether you’ve accidentally left a bottle of water in your backpack to trying to get your shoes back on in a hurry! But, for those with metal implants, the knowledge that they’ll be passing through metal detectors can add a whole new layer of stress.
In this article, we answer questions about flying with metal implants and offer tips for helping the process go as smoothly as possible.
READ MORE: Can I Fly with a Broken Bone?
Do metal implants set off metal detectors?
Yes, orthopaedic implants will set off the metal detectors at the airport.
Whether you’ve got a stainless steel, cobalt chrome or titanium implant, it’s more than likely that it’ll be picked up by the metal detectors as you pass through airport security. As you can imagine, these detectors are made to pick up a range of items, and orthopaedic implants will trigger them. When approaching airport security, you should be prepared for the detectors to go off if you have some form of metal implant.
Tips for flying with metal implants
- Arrive at the airport early
- Inform airport security as soon as possible
- Carry documentation of your implants, if you have it
- Wear loose clothing that can easily show your scar
Arrive to the airport early
Most people will opt to arrive early at the airport for any flight in order to get through security easier and take advantage of the great duty-free deals or enjoy a bite to eat at a restaurant before their flight. For those with metal implants, it can be wise to arrive earlier again to ensure that you’ve got ample time to pass through security and enjoy the full airport experience.
It's recommended that people allow two hours to check in and pass through security at an airport, so making sure you also consider the time it could take to talk to airport security and having extra checks is essential.
Inform airport security as soon as possible
As we’ve already discussed, many people have some form of orthopaedic implant, and airport security has processes in place for processing someone with one or multiple of these implants. By letting the security staff know at the earliest possible convenience about your implants, they’ll be able to start processes and be more considerate of your situation.
Carry documentation of your implants if you have it
Sometimes, it can be useful to carry documentation around your orthopaedic implant to show security whilst being processed. This can help them to visualise where the metal is in your body and makes it easier for them to complete their checks. This might be a letter from your doctor, a photograph of your x-ray or some form of metal implant card. Although there is no formal metal implant card system in the UK, some people choose to get one made in order to easily convey to those who need to know the details of their implant.
Wear loose clothing that can easily show your scar
For those who don’t have any form of documentation that they can bring, or even for those that do, it can be quicker and easier for some people to just show their scar to security. This, again, will help them identify the area where the implant sits and complete their checks more easily. To do this, try and wear loose clothing or clothing that doesn’t cover the affected area. For example, if you’ve had a knee replacement, shorts can be useful.
For any medical issue you might have, you should ensure you’ve got travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions. This means that you’ll be covered in case of issues with your existing condition, and you can have peace of mind your trip will go off without a hitch. From travel insurance for disabled people to travel insurance for people with cancer, we can help you find the best cover at the best price.