Air travel security rules may cause people with diabetes to worry about taking their supplies on an airplane. However, regulations that prohibit sharp objects or fluids on airplanes won't prevent you from carrying your lancets, syringes, insulin and other diabetes supplies aboard if you follow a few guidelines from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Prepare your supplies
The ADA advises people with diabetes to bring prescription labels for medications and medical devices with them whenever possible. While the TSA doesn't require these labels, the ADA says having them available will make screening go more quickly. The ADA advises placing medicines in a clear, plastic bag and packing them in carry-on luggage.
Empty syringes are OK to take on board as long as you're also carrying insulin.
At the security checkpoint
Let the security screener know you are carrying diabetes supplies and what they are. Have a letter from your doctor available in case there are questions.
Under normal conditions, insulin can safely pass through airport scanning machines, according to the ADA. If you use an insulin pump or glucose meter, check the manufacturer's instructions to find out if an airport scanner could harm them. Remember, you can always request a pat-down instead of going through the scanner.
If you wear an insulin pump, you can ask the screener to inspect it on your body rather than removing it. You also can request that this screening be done in a private area, according to the TSA.
Ask to speak to the checkpoint supervisor if you encounter any diabetes-related problems passing through security, the ADA says.
If you're leaving the country
These guidelines can help you navigate security when traveling within the United States. Although they might also prove helpful overseas, you should contact your airline for information about international regulations.
- American Diabetes Association. "Air Travel and Diabetes." https://diabetes.org/advocacy/know-your-rights/air-travel-and-diabetes.
- American Diabetes Association. "Fact Sheet on Discrimination in Public Places and Government Programs." https://diabetes.org/advocacy/know-your-rights/fact-sheet-discrimination-public-places-and-government-programs.
- American Diabetes Association. "What Can I Bring With Me on the Plane." https://www2.diabetes.org/tools-support/know-your-rights/what-can-i-bring-with-me-on-plane.
- American Diabetes Association. "What Special Concerns May Arise." https://www2.diabetes.org/tools-support/know-your-rights/what-special-concerns-may-arise.
- Transportation Security Administration. "Disabilities and Medical Conditions." https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures.
- Transportation Security Administration. "Travel Tip: Traveling With Diabetes." https://www.tsa.gov/blog/2020/11/13/travel-tip-traveling-diabetes.