A few smart steps now can help you avoid any surprises in the airport and in the air.
Diabetes and airport security
Navigating the security rules can be pretty taxing, although a quick look at the Transportation Security Administration site will fill you in on the latest.
The TSA rules make it clear that you can bring diabetes-related supplies, equipment and medications through the security checkpoint, although they will need to be X-rayed or hand inspected.1,2,3
- Insulin and preloaded dispensing items such as syringes or pens
- Unlimited unused syringes when accompanied by insulin or another injectable medication
- Lancets, meters and all other testing supplies
- Insulin pump and supplies
- Glucagon kit
- Ketone test strips
- Used syringes, if they're in a hard-surface disposal container
- Juice, gel icing tubes or other items needed to treat or prevent hypoglycemia
- Freezer or gel packs
- Any other related medication, equipment and supplies
Explain to the security officer that you're carrying diabetes supplies so they can be properly screened. And if you're wearing a pump or continuous glucose monitor, check with the manufacturer. You may be able to go through the metal detector without disconnecting, and you can always ask for a pat-down and visual inspection instead.4 The TSA site asks that you inform the officer conducting the screening about your insulin pump or CGM.3
Your medically necessary liquids can be in containers larger than 3.4 ounces, and don't have to be put in a zip-top bag, but you are asked to remove them from your hand luggage to declare them.1,2
How to manage diabetes in the air
A few tips to keep you feeling your best.
- Bring plenty of snacks—for the airport and on the plane (e.g glucose tablets, gels, or candy to relieve symptoms of hypoglycemia and snacks such as breakfast bars, crackers, or trail mix for missed or delayed meals). You never know when a flight may be delayed. What's more, many flights offer no more than in-flight beverage service, so you never know when you'll have to provide your own meal.5
- If there is an on-board meal, wait until your meal is placed in front of you before taking any pre-meal insulin.5
- While flying, keep your watch set to your home time zone until the morning after you arrive, so you can stick to your regular medication schedule, or the one you and your doctor agreed to before the trip.5
- Let the flight attendant know you have diabetes, especially if you're traveling alone.
- Airplane cabins are pressurized. Before using a syringe in flight, remove and replace the plunger to allow pressure equalization.5
- Check your blood sugar often, to make sure the excitement, time zones, or changes in activity and eating aren't throwing off your control.5