Diabetes Travel Tips Patients’ Guide

Air Travel Regulations and Diabetes Management

How to Navigate Airport Security

Navigating airport security can be difficult for anyone—but especially for people living with diabetes. The supplies, snacks, and medications that you need to help you manage your condition while you travel can make you dread going through the security line.

The following information will help you plan ahead and reduce the stresses of flying with diabetes—allowing you plenty of time to relax and enjoy your trip.

  • Arrive (extra) early. While it is always a good idea to build in extra time when arriving for air travel, people with diabetes may want to tack on even more time. Specialized security procedures for diabetes-related carry-on items may cause delays, and arriving early can help you eliminate the stress of being late for your flight.
  • Pack diabetic supplies in your carry-on bag. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Web site, “diabetes-related supplies, equipment, and medication, including liquids” are allowed to pass through airport security checkpoints after they have been X-rayed or hand inspected.

    The supplies should be separated from other items and declared in advance of the security screening. Though they are not usually allowed through security, liquids that are more than 3 ounces can be carried on if they are a medical necessity. However, these items will receive extra screening. You may be required to open your liquids or gels, but airport security should not touch the liquids during this process.
  • Request a private screening. To protect your privacy, you can download a disability notification card and hand it to a TSA officer when you arrive at the airport. The card can be downloaded here. It will allow you to obtain the required additional security screening of your diabetes management materials, while helping you maintain your privacy.
  • Alert a TSA officer if you use an insulin pump. Patients who use insulin pumps can be screened without having to disconnect from the pump. You may be asked to go through the metal detector or imaging device, or you may receive a patdown from an officer. If you prefer a patdown instead of imaging technology, tell a TSA officer before you go through security.
  • Take your prescriptions with you. A prescription is not required to get your medical supplies through security; however, carrying along your prescription or other documents may help you get to your gate more quickly. The TSA recommends that passengers bring documents such as a medical ID card, prescriptions, or a letter from your doctor, to help speed up the security process.  
  • Call ahead. If you have additional questions—or if you would feel more comfortable speaking with someone at TSA before your trip—call the TSA Cares hotline (855.787.2227). Because airport regulations change often and quickly, it is a good idea to call ahead and get the latest updates on travel policies and how they may affect you.


Don’t let concerns about airline travel security place additional stress on your trip. Knowing the rules and regulations for traveling with diabetes supplies ahead of time can make you more confident and prepared as you get ready for takeoff.

Updated on: November 5, 2012
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