DIABETES AT THE AIRPORT
Diabetes, TSA, Airport Security
As exciting as it might sound, flying with diabetes can be very stressful sometimes. But, MILLIONS of people with diabetes travel by plane are every month, and NONE of them has had any serious problems.
As we like to say as often as we get the chance: Diabetes is no brake to travel. You simply need to take a few precautions, and your diabetic travels will be just fine!
We all feel like diabetes is an added physical and emotional luggage to lug along on our travels. But the earlier and the better we plan our holidays, the lighter this luggage will be! And that’s exactly why we’ve dedicated this article to revealing a series of useful tips for flying with diabetes.
Before starting, have you thought about your Diabetes Travel Insurance? Read our previous article and our tips to find the best Diabetes Travel Insurance to be sure you’re covered adequatly before flying away!
FLYING WITH DIABETES – PART 1/2
You’re about to read the first part of our article on Flying with diabetes. We’re dealing here with diabetes supplies at the airport. Know your rights as a diabetic at the airport!
- What diabetes supplies can you take with you through airport security?
- What diabetes travel letter and documents do you need?
- Which of your diabetes supplies should not go through X-ray machines?
- Which insulin travel cooler system can you take through airport security?
- And much more!
FLYING WITH DIABETES – PART 2/2
In the next part of this article about Flying with Diabetes, we’re focusing on the plane trip itself. And we’ll answer questions such as:
- Does flying affect Diabetes?
- What diabetes-friendly food can you have on a plane?
- How to manage your blood sugar at high altitude?
- Why do you need to connect and disconnect your insulin pump on the plane?
- Which clothes and footwear to choose for plane travel?
- And much more!
Note: TSA is the airport security management for all American airports. Regarding diabetic supplies, most of the airports in the world will apply the exact same rules as the TSA.
DIABETES TRAVEL LETTER
We’re not going into details as to why you should carry a Diabetes travel letter when flying with diabetes here. If you want more detailed information, please refer to our article specially dedicated to the subject. It’s right here!
Should you carry a Diabetes travel letter signed by your doctor, you should not have any problems passing through airport security with your diabetic supplies. Insulin pens, vials, cartridges, insulin pumps, blood glucose meters, continuous glucose monitoring sensors, needles, syringes, diabetes tablets, lancets, and any other diabetic supplies, are all ALLOWED to pass through TSA.
But to be completely safe, you do need to have a DIABETES TRAVEL LETTER from your doctor specifying that you are a diabetic patient.
DIABETES TRAVEL LETTER TEMPLATE (Free Download!)
To make things easier for you, and for your doctor, we’ve prepared this ready-to-print Diabetes Travel Letter Template:
All you need to do is download it for FREE, print it, and ask your doctor to fill it in! It also comes with a notice sheet for your doctor to understand what that document exactly is!
To know more about your Diabetes Travel Letter, please refer to our dedicated article. We’re answering all of your questions on the subject, such as:
- Why should you carry a Diabetes Travel Letter?
- What exact information should a Diabetes Travel Letter contain?
- Should you have your Diabetes Travel Letter translated when you go overseas?
- What happens if you don’t have your Diabetes Travel Letter when traveling with diabetes supplies?
CONTINUOUS GLUCOSE MONITORING, SENSORS, INSULIN PUMPS, AND AIRPORT SECURITY
GLUCOSE SENSORS, TSA, AIRPORT SECURITY
Continuous Glucose Monitoring systems, and Glucose sensors CAN NOT pass through neither X-ray machines nor 360 full body scanners.
If you’re wearing or carrying a blood glucose sensor such as FreeStyle Libre, Dexcom G4 Platinum, Medtronic Enlite Sensor, or any other CGM devices, you have to know that they SHOULD NOT go through X-ray machines nor 360 full body scanners. They risk being deactivated and becoming useless.
THAT MEANS: the back-up glucose sensors that you carry in your hand bag need to be taken out of your bag before it goes through the X-ray machine. Ask airport security staff to hand-check them.
AND: if you are wearing a glucose sensor ON your body, you should NOT be scanned by the new 360 full body scanners. Request a regular pat down search instead.
Don’t worry though, the airport security staff is seeing dozens of diabetes supplies each single day. You should not experience any difficulties. But you could be asked to provide a medical certificate stating that your specific diabetes device cannot go through X-ray nor full 360 body scanning. Download our Diabetes Travel Letter Template above and ask your doctor to fill it in (it has a special section for your special case!).
The glucose sensor you’re wearing ON you CAN pass through the regular arch metal detector.
INSULIN PUMPS, TSA, AIRPORT SECURITY
Insulin Pumps CAN NOT pass through neither X-ray machines nor 360 full body scannerswithout risking deterioration.
If you’re wearing an insulin pump on you, it’s SAFE for you to pass through the regular arch metal detector. But it’s NOT ok to pass through the new 360 full body scanners. According to several insulin pump manufacturers, the pumps have not yet been tested with such scanners.
If the airport staff demands that you pass through a 360-full body scanner, simply explain that you’re wearing a medical device and request a regular pat down search instead. In that case, the security inspector might also want to swipe your insulin pump for explosive detection, which is ok. You should not have any problem with that procedure. But if you think the officer is denying your rights, immediately ask for the security control officer in charge to come.
If you’re carrying a back-up insulin pump in your hand bags, take it out before it goes through the X-ray machines, and ask for it to be hand-checked.
You might have to show a medical certificate. Download your Diabetes Travel Letter Template above, and ask your doctor to fill it in (it has a special section for you special case!).
INSULIN, TRAVEL COOLERS, AND AIRPORT SECURITY
INSULIN, TSA AND AIRPORT SECURITY
You can fly with insulin. In vials, pens or catridges, insulin is allowed on board. And it is allowed through airport security. Needles used to inject insulin are also allowed.
And it is more than advisable to take all of your insulin on the plane with you. Due mostly to air travel pressure and hazardous temperature conditions, it could suffer when traveling in your checked baggage.
Once again, airport security staff may ask you to show a medical certificate. See above our paragraph on diabetes travel letter, and ask your doctor to fill in your diabetes travel letter template.
INSULIN TRAVEL COOLER, TSA AND AIRPORT SECURITY
If you’re traveling with insulin for more than a month, you’ll need keep it cool. Every traveler with diabetes has his own favourite insulin travel cooler system. If you don’t have yours yet, and you’re wondering how to keep insulin cold while traveling, this will be the subject of future article! Meanwhile, you can read this very good article comparing the “Top 10 Best Diabetes Insulin Supply and Travel Case“!
Your insulin travel cooler system can go through airport security. According to TSA: “Accessories required to keep medically necessary liquids, gels, and aerosols cool are permitted through the screening checkpoint and may be subject to additional screening.” That means that insulin travel coolers such as Frio bags, Medi fridge, Medicool insulin protector, and others are ok.
If you use ice packs to keep your insulin cool, know that, yes, they are allowed through security, as they are solids! And if you use your own cooling gels, liquids or aerosols, they are allowed, even though they’re liquids.
More Tips for Flying with Diabetes, TSA, and Airport Security
YOU CAN carry fruit juice through airport security checks
If it is expressively stated as a medical need in case of hypoglycemia on your diabetes travel letter, you can take fruit juice, or any other fast-acting sugar liquid, through airport security.
To read more about the specific TSA requirements, visit TSA website page about “Travellers with Diabetes and other medical conditions” right here!
Before flying with diabetes, should you have any more doubts about what you can take through airport security, do not hesitate to contact your departure airport’s referent authority. Here are a few useful phone numbers to save you some time:
USA – TSA Cares Helpline: (855) 787-2227
UK – London Heathrow Airport Security: 0844 335 1801
Don’t miss Part 2!
FLYING WITH DIABETES : ON THE PLANE (PART 2)
We hope this article has made things clearer for you.
Getting through airport security with diabetes supplies can be a hassle. But it usually happens just fine!
Should you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment on this page or to write us ([email protected]).
MORE TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH DIABETES?
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Did you know that Sweet Trip is also publishing Travel Guides specially designed by and for people with Diabetes?
Or Choose your destination right here and check it out!