Airport security has certainly made traveling more challenging. With diabetes, you need to plan ahead for passing through the scanners, or get ready for a pat down. As a person with diabetes (PWD) , you can board the airplane with insulin, syringes, pumps, liquids (including juice and liquid nutrition) and all the diabetes related supplies (such as lancets, blood glucose meters, test strips, alcohol swabs, pump supplies, glucagon emergency kit, epipen). The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires you pack the medications in a separate clear bag and place in your carry-on bag.

You are not required to bring a prescription for your medication and supplies with you, but supporting documents such as your ID, a letter from your doctor, etc. will insure a smooth inspection. Your insulin should be clearly identified, and the labels on the medications should match the name on the boarding pass. If you are traveling abroad, a prescription might be required in other countries, and might be a safety net in case you are delayed and run out of supplies.

Your pump should not go through scanning machines. You could opt to remove it and request a visual inspection to avoid the x-ray machine. Or, you could wear the equipment and request the pat-down search. Remind the security officer that you cannot readily remove the pump because it is inserted with a catheter under your skin. Contrary to popular press, reports from PWD say the pat down process is discreet and you are informed about every step of the process. You may be required to touch your pump and have your hand tested for residue.

There are exceptions for PWD regarding the 3.4 ounces of liquid rule. All medical liquids greater than 3.4 oz must be removed from your carry on and declared to the TSA personnel. They should not be placed in the quart sized zip-top bag used for non-medical liquids. Insulin can go through the X-Ray machine, but should not be put in checked luggage. The luggage may be exposed to extremes of temperature and pressure which may adversely affect your medication.

You may keep glucose gels, liquids or tablets to treat hypoglycemia, or hard candy or raisins.

The TSA website has more extensive information for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. And for TSA guidelines on hidden disabilities and medical conditions, click here.

Article written by RD/CDE Sharon Howard.

Article posted by on January 21, 2011.