Well here I am, loyal readers, back and freshly tanned from a week in the mountains (which means this post got to Adrian for approval/posting pretty late on Wednesday, so apologies if it’s not as timely as you’re used to!).

As that trip involved an airplane or two, I thought this would be a good week for a natural follow-up to last week’s post about diapers and camping: diapers and air travel, which is often necessary to get to the really good camping spots!

First, the Good News

It’s legal.

That’s actually about it, these days, but it is good news — you can wear diapers onto the flight. That’s important for incontinent people of all varieties, since even a minor urinary leakage can become problematic when you’re being bounced around at high altitude with limited bathroom access and a good chance at long lines even when the toilets are available.

Diapers can also just be a comfortable and convenient option for non-incontinent users who don’t want to hassle with airplane bathrooms. A good thick overnight can last you even through a transcontinental flight as long as you’re careful about your wetting.

Now, the Bad News

Flying with diapers is comfortable and convenient. Navigating an airport with them, on the other hand, is not.

Your biggest problem is the security checkpoint. If you’re shy about wearing diapers, this is going to be hell, because it’s very challenging to get through modern TSA security in a diaper without it being noticed, mentioned out loud, and quite probably groped by blue-gloved hands.

Metal Detectors

A traditional walk-through metal detector won’t have any problems with a diaper. Empty out all your metal items and walk through carefully so you don’t trigger any beeping, and you should get through without even a pat-down or a wanding.

This is your best bet for getting through security quietly and without delay. Unfortunately, it’s also rapidly becoming obsolete. Most major airports have gone to whole-body imaging scanners, and you can only get into a metal detector line by “opting out” of the scanner — which will probably automatically qualify you for a pat-down and bag search.

Whole-body Scanners (Backscatter, Millimeter Wave, Etc.)

There are a number of terms for machines that are all basically the same for your purposes: an imaging machine that scans through your clothing for foreign items. You enter a chamber, stand with your hands above your heads, and let the machine scan you for about three seconds.

I don’t know of any confirmed images of what, exactly, a diaper looks like on these. The scanner should largely go through it, just like the rest of your clothing. However, there will be visible distortion around your crotch — there are ample testimonies out there of women whose sanitary pads triggered a closer inspection, so assume that your diaper can do the same.

If the person operating the scanner notices something odd about your crotch, you can assume that he or she is going to point it out, probably verbally, to another agent, who will then pat you down. In layman’s terms: everyone around you is going to know that you’re wearing a diaper, and at least one person is going to be grabbing it from the outside.

This sucks. This sucks a lot if you try to be private about your diapers. But there’s no way around it if you go through the whole-body imaging machines. You might get through unnoticed, but there’s always going to be a decent chance that you’ll be stopped, publicly singled out, and patted down.

Opt-outs, Patdowns, and Strip Searches

These days it’s harder to get through a TSA security checkpoint without triggering a pat-down than it is to trigger one. Pretty much everyone gets at least a quick once-over up and down the legs. And if you “opt out” of the millimeter wave/backscatter style of scanner, you’re often automatically accepting a pat-down (check the signs in the security line, but these days those are usually your two choices — whole-body imaging or pat-down).

Unless it’s done by an absolute incompetent or someone who really doesn’t care (not that the TSA is short on either category), even a brief pat-down is going to notice that your crotch is padded and crinkles.

At that point you’re going to be asked directly about your diapers. In most cases you can get through by simply stating “I wear diapers for a medical condition.” The TSA agent will probably be just as embarrassed as you, and will want things done with as quickly as possible. If you’re lucky you’ll simply be sped on your way.

But you’re not always lucky, and if a TSA agent wants to give you a hard time there’s nothing you can do about it, short of refusing to fly and insisting that you be released from the airport (you’ll be told repeatedly that you can’t do that, as well — once you’re in the security checkpoint, getting out of it involves either doing what the TSA demands or pushing it to the point that lawyers get called).

This is where the horror stories start. Technically, a wet diaper could be considered liquids being brought on board in a non-approved manner. If you’re really unlucky, you may end up in a room all of your own, taking your diaper off for the enlightenment and edification of the TSA.

Bring a change (beyond what you’d already planned on). Budget lots of extra time. And maybe have a stiff drink beforehand, or whatever your preferred technique is for keeping your rage down as your privacy is systematically and humiliatingly violated.

Strategies for Flying with Diapers

Sound lousy yet?

It can be. There are a few strategies that can help, though:

1. Go Through Security Undiapered

If you’re confident that you can visit a bathroom directly beforehand, make it through a potentially long wait (sometimes upwards of an hour), and get to a bathroom on the other side without any sort of leakage, congratulations. That’s the easiest way to deal with security — just put a diaper in your carryon, and go through undiapered.

This is the optimal choice for ABs and DLs, and may work for some incontinent diaper-wearers as well.

2. Inform the TSA at the Time of Your Screening

If you have to go through security diapered, pre-empt concerns that you’re hiding something by simply telling the TSA. The person on the far side of the scanner is the one you need to tell; you can easily do this as you step into the machine.

At this point you’re at least a little bit distant from the rest of the line, so if you speak quietly but firmly, it should be possible to say “Excuse me, I am wearing a diaper for a medical condition, and that may show up on your scan” so that the TSA agents hear you but no one else does.

That said, you’re still reliant on having someone who’s listening and who understands English fairly fluently — if they’re a non-native speaker and there’s lots of background noise, it may not get through on the first try, since it’s a very unusual situation.

3. Maintain Your Dignity

In the worst-case scenario, trying to fly with diapers can be a personal humiliation straight out of a POW novel. You may end up with your diapers being displayed or mentioned to hundreds of strangers, and you may end up in a tiny, windowless room stripping naked.

If it comes to that, don’t squirm. Make them squirm.

Be polite, do not raise your voice, but make it clear that you have already told them everything they need to know, and that they are personally choosing to inflict further suffering on you. Without defying anyone, follow directions — and voice your objections.

If you are asked to do something you simply aren’t comfortable doing, do the hard thing and walk away. Insist that you be allowed to leave, eat the lost ticket cost, and find alternative transportation. Everyone has their limits, and you shouldn’t have to push past yours just to get from Point A to Point B.

All of the above, of course, assumes a flight that is at least originating from the United States. It’s been the better part of a decade since I flew transcontinental, and I never did that in diapers, so I am not a reliable resource there — if you’ve had experiences going diapered at non-US airports, please let us know about them in the comments section!

By | 2017-07-17T21:42:07+00:00 June 27th, 2013|Uncategorized|20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. RS June 27, 2013 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    I just wore Depends RealFit recently for an international flight without any problems.

  2. Bambino June 27, 2013 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    I have flown out of PDX, gone through the body imaging scanner and I was asked to raise my hands. I had no issues and I was wearing a Bellissimo. I did make sure I was dry. I can’t go with out diapers as I am OAB and go between 20-30 times a day.

  3. JP June 27, 2013 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    I’ve always been nervous about something like this, because I always think the word would accidentally be in hear shot of the whole security line. Yet, I can’t say much, because I fly for a living and as a DL, I never ware diapers when I’m working….

  4. Geoffrey June 27, 2013 at 11:00 pm - Reply

    Glad to hear people are making it through without hassle. It’s definitely not a guaranteed every time thing — as often as not, you SHOULD be able to walk through diapered with no one the wiser. But if it reads weird on the scanner or you get patted down it can turn into a pretty unpleasant experience.

  5. Bambino June 28, 2013 at 1:07 am - Reply

    I think your advise helps. Great post. I always try to go through dry and will change prior. I would hate to have an unpleasant experience. I could see them reacting as you said.

  6. Joe June 28, 2013 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    I’ve gone through security a few times, I have an overactive bladder as well, they sometimes will just let you pass, if you have too much powder on and or not dry thats usually when they hassle you, at least in my case

  7. Kerry June 28, 2013 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    3 or 4 years ago I went through an international airport in india to return home to the US and they had me hold out my hands for wanding. Then they lifted my shirt, presumably to check my belt, the waistband of my Depend fitted brief was sticking out and he asked me “what is this?” I simply responded, its my diaper. That was the end of that, no further discussion. I was traveling with someone who didnt know I wore, but fortunately they were in another line. Phew. Never had any other issues scanner or otherwise.

    • Kwan Ming September 22, 2015 at 4:55 am - Reply

      I am flying to Hong Kong In 24hrs time from London Heathrow and security has been beefed up following the recent raise in the terrorist threat level to red status for the first time since 9-11-2001, in the UK and throughout europe meaning a attack is highly likely, I hope that it doesn’t although it doesn’t help me to feel more relaxed as i am generally a nervous person anyway because of years of being a victim of abuse in terms of bullying.

      And last year had problems with security as I forgot about the fact I was carrying hand gell and got stopped and searched for that reason, but I also didn’t go through wearing diapers anyway as they would have noticed them and got too nosy/problematic.

      This time around I plan on doing the something and going through security un-diapered as I’ll probably buy a pack once I arrive in Hong Kong as the connecting flight to the Philippines doesn’t leave until Sunday and I have all of Saturday free to see my friends.

      This time around to save the embarrassment I’ll make sure when going through security at the airport I take no chances and make sure I haven’t got any prohibited items on my self or in my hand luggage as I don’t want to be delaying anyone or myself for that matter as I have been there once before and vowed I would never be in that situation ever again.

      And whilst I can’t tell you about my experiences in the US airports as the last Tim I went through one with a diaper on was when I was a baby in the 1980’s, on my way back from disney land florida to Cayman where i lived with my pearents and also the fact that I didn’t have any problems with incontinence until 30yrs later so I wouldn’t be a good source of information either.

      Anyway these are my thoughts on this very thawney subject.

  8. CD July 1, 2013 at 11:37 am - Reply

    I actually just got done a flight to the east coast and back and I was in a diaper I had just changed into. Luckily, I was almost dry. The problem with a wet diaper is that it will show up as a reflection on the full body scanner. I was sweating as well which meant most of my body reflected. The TSA guy told me about the reflection thing after I caused a problem with the scanner.

    As a result of the reflections, I was patted down. Well, that and I have a lot if titanium in and on my body plus I had a knee brace. Anyway, even with a minor wetting (I leaked on the way to the airport a little) there was no big deal. I had to be patted down and when he hit the edge of my diaper I told him at that point I was incontinent. He didn’t even look at me strangely. This is also with a genital piercing, so I am sure that area looks interesting on a scanner.

    Anyway, it’s as big a deal as you want to make it; I am sure those that wear strictly for plewp_e are more embarrassed than those that don’t but I also had 2 diapers in my carry-on laptop bag with a fitting garment and that didn’t even get looked at. I did have my medical determination letter with me just in case, but after about ten trips with diapers, I have never had an issue wearing through security or having them in my carry-on.

    Take care,
    Colin

  9. Lizzie July 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    I just completed a long trip to Europe that, of course, involved beginning and ending in American airports. I went through the full body scan going out and the regular walk-through coming back; in neither case was there any issue, and I was diapered both times. I had to be: I’m completely incontinent. BTW: I highly recommend Abena 4’s for international flights. 🙂 Never had to change either way.

    Lizzie

  10. Diapers4Me November 27, 2013 at 5:40 pm - Reply

    I fly enough that I am platium on American, and have only had ONE issue where TSA took me to a screening room. The key is not to go through a scanner with a wet diaper. If you go though with a thick soaked diaper, you may get pulled aside for an in person “inspection”.

    When this happened to me, I was in London. They took me aside to a screening room and asked me what I was wearing under my jeans. I told them I was incontinent and was wearing a diaper. They were very professional and simply asked to see the diaper. I undid my pants and went to pull them down, and they stopped me and said that was fine and I could go on my way. Again…ALL very professional.

    Occasionally I get a slight extra pat down at the scanner itself. Especially if I am wearing a diaper with a taping panel on it. I think the tape panel stands out on the scanner.

  11. Bob September 5, 2014 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    I am reluctant to mention this as it might lead to a change of luck (I sure hope not). I travel regularly in California. I ware Bambinos during the day, and I have a small black travel bag that I use to carry supplies. Sometimes I will wear a plastic pant during the day, but always when flying. I do not keep anything with metal (snaps or pins) in the bag, and I will not use snap-on style pants (no metal). I have never had a single issue while passing through security. They have on occasion look inside my bag at times, but never made a big deal about the contents. I always make sure that I go through security area completely dry, as I have heard that damp or wet diapers will standout and cause problems.

    All in all, I have been very fortunate, and I have never had an issue.

  12. A.J. September 11, 2014 at 12:50 am - Reply

    I had to take a flight from Omaha, NE. to Gulfport, MS. a few months ago and had went through the whole pat down procedure and the TSA agent asked what was under my jeans and I said A diaper I have to wear them I’m incontinent and what surprised me she said don’t worry I understand. She also said you’d be surprised how many people I see come through here diapered.

  13. Marcos September 15, 2014 at 1:01 am - Reply

    What about traveling with them in your non carry on bag, “your luggage”. Im traveling here soon in a few days and wanted to know if they will say anything about having diapers in your luggage thats non carry on?

    • A.J. September 18, 2014 at 7:18 pm - Reply

      No ones said anything to me yet.

    • Bob September 18, 2014 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      I have never had a problem with baggage being checked, and as long as you don’t have any sharp objects, they will not look at your carry-on either. I carry diapers and plastic pants in my carry-on all the time, and I have never had a problem. I will reiterate; make sure there are no sharp objects or anything on the no fly list. Once they see something in the screening, as minor as a large aerosol can of deodorant (or???), they will open the bag and rummage through it. They have done that to me, but didn’t make a big deal about it. They just took the aerosol can, and said you can’t take this with you They made no mention or even a strange look about my diapers.

      Don’t worry, you are not doing anything wrong.

  14. B Kitten (@BKitten) September 16, 2014 at 2:43 am - Reply

    I’m curious about people’s experiences changing on a plane. I have a 16 hour flight conning up, way too long without a change.
    The trashcans on planes tend to be quite small. Dies this cause any trouble? Any tips?

  15. Gary January 29, 2015 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    I travel quite a bit internationally to Europe and to the Philippines. Just pay attention to all the comments about going through the body scanners in a dry diaper. I usually wear a pullup to go through security and then change into an Abena M-4 or Molicare Super plus before boarding. Changing on the plane is a bit of a challenge, but it can be done. I wear a photographer/hunting vest that has a large pouch in the back with a zipper. I can usually put an extra diaper in that. The other pockets hold small package of wipes. When you change, you really do have to roll up the used diaper into a small package. It may take a bit to get it through the opening, but there is plenty of room in the actual trash can. Some of the newer planes on the transatlantic flights actually have a handicapped restroom. It will give you a bit more room. Let us know how your flight went.

  16. Rich August 8, 2015 at 4:39 am - Reply

    Only in the Corporate States of Ahmerika have I experienced the most hassle of being an incontinent person. I have flown internationally throughout APAC (South Korea, Malaysia, Cambodia, New Zealand, Canada, and Asia) with virtually no trouble and no embarrassments. Once in Tokyo, they opened my diaper bag (inside my hiking bag) for inspection. I told the inspector at that moment simply (in Japanese) that I have a medical condition. They quickly closed it and asked me to move on.

    I’m fully incontinent and wear tape-type of paper-diapers. I hate having to fully undress just to change my diaper. Which is why I refuse the pants-type of diapers. I also hand-make my own custom diaper covers (often with Disney designs). I am not shy about my condition, but I find it of little value to discuss with with strangers. The only reason I post here on this topic is in hope that it will help another person wishing to travel (at least through Asia) while diapered.

  17. Erwin September 18, 2015 at 8:12 am - Reply

    The only reason I was reading this, was to find a solution in regard to carry on luggage. I tend to travel lots, and I find that bringing diapers for the whole period I am away from home, means either packing quite a bit which leaves not much space for other luggage or buying diapers locally. I was wondering how others are doing this.
    And yes I had what one would call an embarrassing moment once. When leaving an airport, they did search me in an open area. They even opened a brand new package of diapers and felt every single diaper, in search of narcotics. (I never used nor ever intend to) But well this things happen. I did not care about this, as stated how many of the people at the airport know you ??

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