Flying with Diabetes

Traveling with diabetes takes a little extra planning, and flying the friendly skies is no exception. We have some tips and tricks to help you navigate security screenings, ways that flying might impact your diabetes gear, and other useful travel hacks!

Making Sense of US Transport Security Adminstration Screenings

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) specifically permits prescription liquid medications and other liquids needed by persons with disabilities and medical conditions, above and beyond the limitations on other liquids. However, not all TSA screeners are aware of the rules.

Travelers with diabetes should print and carry the following documents from the TSA web site:

The second document specifically mentions "liquids (to include water, juice, or liquid nutrition) or gels for passengers with a disability or medical condition." If you use juice to treat hypoglycemia, highlight this line in yellow and show it to the TSA supervisor on site if you are questioned about carrying on juice.

Note also that supporting documentation from a doctor, while recommended, is not required. Note also that there is a telephone number on the document to call in case of problems -- 1-866-289-9673 or 1-877-336-4872. If you are hassled at security, ask for the TSA supervisor on site and call these numbers.

The Transportation Safety Administration offers the following advide for persons with diabetes who will be traveling by air:

  • Notify the screener that you have diabetes and are carrying your supplies with you.
  • Make sure insulin (vials or outer box of individual doses), jet injectors, pens, infusers, and preloaded syringes are marked properly (professionally printed label identifying the medication or manufacturer's name or pharmaceutical label)
  • There is no limitation on the number of empty syringes that you will be allowed to carry through the security checkpoint; however you must have insulin with you in order to carry empty syringes through the checkpoint.
    Lancets, blood glucose meters, blood glucose test strips can be carried through the security checkpoint.
  • Notify screeners if you're wearing an insulin pump and ask if they will visually inspect the pump since it cannot be removed from your person.
  • Insulin pumps and supplies must be accompanied by insulin with professionally printed labels described above.
  • If possible, advise screeners when/if you are experiencing low blood sugar and are in need of medical assistance.

In the event that you encounter problems boarding a flight, you should contact the FAA Grounds Security Commissioner at the airport for assistance. You should not pack diabetes supplies in checked baggage, because the cargo hold temperatures can vary greatly and because you may need the supplies during the flight.

Since many airlines have cut back on food service, it's a good idea to carry emergency food in case you or your child experience hypoglycemia. Carrying a small water bottle is a good idea too.