Airport apologizes after telling family that daughter's diabetes medication could 'make the plane crash'

A British family says they were treated “like terrorists” over their 13-year-old daughter’s insulin medication. (Photo: Skaman 306)
A British family says they were treated “like terrorists” over their 13-year-old daughter’s insulin medication. (Photo: Skaman 306)

A 13-year-old girl was left “close to tears” after airport security staff hassled her about the insulin contained in her carry-on luggage — with one employee saying the liquid medicine used to treat her type 1 diabetes could “make the plane crash.”

According to British newspaper the Star, Manchester Airport in Manchester, England, has issued an apology to Polly Holland and her parents, Simon and Joanne, over the July incident.

The Hollands, who hail from Sheffield, England, were preparing to fly to Naples for an Italian getaway when they were stopped by security in Manchester. Because of Polly’s condition, the family must travel with insulin at all times and have letters from her local children’s hospital in Sheffield to that effect.

But the life-saving medicine was flagged, with security staff insisting on having it removed from their hand luggage so it could be inspected and placed in a clear plastic bag. The Hollands feared that this would contaminate the insulin. What’s more, one staff member brought up the risk of having liquids on the plane, saying it would be Polly’s “fault” if the plane were to crash.

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“As a parent your children are always your priority, but with Polly it is even more because I am carrying medicine that will keep her alive,” her mother told the Star, adding that the family felt like they were treated “like terrorists.” “For me it was frustrating, but she was worried she would not be able to go on holiday. I just held her hand and said everything was going to be OK. She looked close to tears.”

The Hollands have since received an apology.

“We’d like to apologize to the Hollands for their experience when traveling through the airport recently,” Fiona Wright, director of customer services and security for Manchester Airport, said in a statement to the Star. “The correct procedure for medicines and medical equipment is that they require scanning unless there is a written exemption from a doctor or hospital. This is why the Hollands were asked to present their daughter’s diabetes medication for screening.

“Unfortunately, on this occasion some of the medication was not screened correctly so it was necessary to bring it back for additional screening. The safety and security of all our passengers is our [top] priority. However, we acknowledge the situation could have been handled better and this has now been raised with the staff member in question.”

Joanne Holland says the incident highlights the need for better staff training regarding passengers who must take vital medicine on flights.

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