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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

Flying with diabetes supplies   (May 18, 2008)

Some suggestions about flying with diabetes supplies:

1. I pack my insulin in its original factory-supplied cardbox box (which has the pharmacy-applied label on it), inside a clear Ziploc-type bag, and inside a larger Ziploc bag that includes a freezer pack. I keep one of my business cards inside the insulin bag.

I put both clear plastic bags on top of my coat or shoes in one of those grey TSA bins, and point to them when at the screening machine, and say "Insulin and freezer pack". They have never asked me questions.

   2. I carry my syringes and replacement fingerpokers and pen-needles in a clear plastic bag, which I leave inside my computer bag. Never been asked about them.

   3. I also have copies of all the pharmacy paperwork for all my stuff, also kept in the computer bag. Never needed them.

I've flown out of Newark many times, and many other US airports. Only non-US airport I've been through recently was Charles de Gaulle in Paris; no problem there, either.

Here are some other tips:

   4) 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.
   5) Carry a Traveling Medical Record with you.

   6) The TSA website has a specific section about diabetes [reproduced at this website], which states:

"Notify the Security Officer that you have diabetes and are carrying your supplies with you. The following diabetes-related supplies and equipment are allowed through the checkpoint once they have been screened:

* Insulin and insulin loaded dispensing products (vials or box of individual vials, jet injectors, biojectors, epipens, infusers, and preloaded syringes;
* Unlimited number of unused syringes when accompanied by insulin or other injectable medication;
* lancets, blood glucose meters, blood glucose meter test strips, alcohol swabs, meter-testing solutions;
* Insulin pump and insulin pump supplies (cleaning agents, batteries, plastic tubing, infusion kit, catheter, and needle); Insulin pumps and supplies must be accompanied by insulin.
* Glucagon emergency kit;
* Urine ketone test strips;
* Unlimited number of used syringes when transported in Sharps disposal container or other similar hard-surface container.
* Sharps disposal containers or similar hard-surface disposal container for storing used syringes and test strips.

Insulin in any form or dispenser must be clearly identified.

If you are concerned or uncomfortable about going through the walk-through metal detector with your insulin pump, notify the Security Officer that you are wearing an insulin pump and would like a full-body pat-down and a visual inspection of your pump instead.

Advise the Security Officer that the insulin pump cannot be removed because it is inserted with a catheter (needle) under the skin.

Advise the Security Officer if you are experiencing low blood sugar and are in need of medical assistance.

You have the option of requesting a visual inspection of your insulin and diabetes associated supplies. See the Medication section below for details."

7) And at Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions it's specifically stated that it's okay to bring "Gels or frozen liquids needed to cool disability or medically related items used by persons with disabilities or medical conditions" (like for your insulin or Byetta).

If you have other hints to share, let us all know!

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Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.

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