Welcome aboard! If you're planning a trip and wondering how to fly with insulin, you've come to the right place. Traveling with insulin on a plane may seem a bit daunting the first time. Going through airport security with your injections and needles, keeping your insulin cool on the plane, and managing injection schedule through time zone changes are just a few of the challenges you might face. But don't worry-we've got you covered!

So, fasten your seatbelt and let's get ready to take off and fly confidently and comfortably with your diabetes supplies!

  • Can you take insulin and needles on a plane?
  • What diabetes supplies are allowed on planes?
  • How much insulin can you pack in your carry-on?
  • Do you need a doctor's not to fly with insulin?
  • How to keep your insulin cool on the plane?
  • How to carry insulin on international flights?
  • Can insulin safely go through airport scanners?
  • And more!
4AllFamily TSA-approved insulin coolers to keep insulin cool on the plane

Related article: Does Insulin Need to Be Refrigerated? Essential Storage Tips!

Can you Take Insulin on a Plane?

Let's start with the basics: Can you actually take insulin on plane? Absolutely, yes! You can take insulin on a plane. As someone living with diabetes, you are allowed to carry not just your insulin but all essential diabetes supplies directly on board.

Despite TSA regulations restricting airline passengers from bringing liquids over 3.4 ounces on board, there is an exemption for medical supplies. Injectable medications such as insulin, Ozempic, Mounjaro, Zepbound, Trulicity, Victoza, Glucagon, or any other drugs are permitted in quantities necessary for your journey, regardless of these liquid limits. So, whether you use insulin pens, vials, cartridges, or prefilled syringes, you have the right to carry your insulin on flights.

It's even super important to keep your insulin and diabetes supplies in your carry-on luggage to avoid temperature fluctuations in the hold and loss of luggage issues.

Can you bring insulin needles on a plane?

Naturally, traveling with insulin necessitates carrying both used and unused needles, which the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows under specific conditions.

  • Unused insulin needles. You can bring unused insulin needles on planes if they are accompanied by the insulin they are intended for. This includes needles for prefilled injectable insulin pens, as well as insulin syringes.
  • Used insulin needles. You can also bring used insulin needles on planes. But, for safety reasons, they must be transported in a sharps disposal container or another secure, hard-surface container like a sturdy plastic laundry detergent bottle or a sealed coffee can. This prevents injury by ensuring the needles do not poke through and harm someone.

Here's precisely what the TSA states about traveling with needles and syringes for injectable medications like insulin:

"Unused syringes are allowed when accompanied by injectable medication. You must declare these items to security officers at the checkpoint for inspection. We recommend, but do not require, that your medications be labeled to facilitate the security process. (…) Used syringes are allowed when transported in Sharps disposal container or other similar hard-surface container."

Related article: How to Travel With Syringes and Injectable Drugs?

Flying with diabetes supplies

When traveling by air, passengers with diabetes are permitted to bring not only insulin but also a wide range of medical supplies necessary for their treatment. Here is a list of the diabetic supplies you can carry on board:

  • Insulin and delivery devices. This includes insulin vials, insulin pens, insulin cartridges, and preloaded syringes, both used and unused.
  • Insulin needles and diabetic lancets. Essential for insulin administration and blood glucose monitoring.
  • Blood glucose monitoring systems. Blood glucose meters, continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), and all necessary test strips, blood ketone test strips, and urine ketone strips.
  • Infusion supplies. Insulin pumps, infusion kits, and related accessories.
  • Emergency kits. Glucagon kits and other emergency medical supplies.
  • Hypoglycemia management liquids. Juices or glucose gels to manage low blood sugar episodes.

Related article: TSA Regulations for Diabetics: Flying with Insulin & Diabetes Supplies.

How to Travel With Insulin on a Plane

Taking insulin on a plane requires more than just remembering to bring it along! Properly packing your insulin and having the right documentation on hand are essential for smooth travel, whether you are on domestic or international flights. So, let's now delve into the best practices for packing your insulin and review the documents you'll need to carry to facilitate a hassle-free journey.

Pack insulin in your carry-on

Always pack your insulin and medical supplies in your carry-on luggage to protect them from damage caused by extreme temperatures in the hold. Temperature fluctuations are common in checked baggage compartments due to varying cargo hold conditions. Not to mention the risk of lost or delayed baggage

To keep your insulin and all related supplies organized and within easy reach, you may use a clear, plastic, airtight container. This not only keeps everything neatly arranged but also streamlines the security check process. While not required, such transparent and secure packaging allows TSA agents to quickly and efficiently inspect your medical supplies without the need for you to unpack each item!

Do you need a doctor's not to fly with insulin?

No, you do not need a doctor's note to fly with insulin. The TSA does not require a medical certificate or any specific document to bring diabetic supplies and medications on the plane.

However, having visible prescription labels on your medications and medical devices can greatly smooth and accelerate the security process. Although not mandated by TSA, carrying a doctor's note that details your condition and lists all your insulin and diabetic devices can help, especially if you encounter a new or stringent security officer.

While not required either, the TSA recommends that air travelers with diabetes complete a TSA notification card. This can help discreetly inform the airport security agent about your condition, and potentially speed up the screening process.

Regaring the airline company, you are not obligated to show any medical documents. However, informing them about your diabetes is prudent. Doing so can facilitate accommodations such as diabetes-friendly meal options during the flight, for instance.

Related article: Travel Insurance for Type 1 Diabetes: What to Know Before Leaving.

Carrying insulin on international flights

When planning an international flight with insulin, make sure to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations regarding medication in your destination country. Many countries have distinct importation laws and may require specific documentation for carrying medicines across their borders.

However, insulin and most diabetes supplies are generally recognized globally, and carrying personal-use quantities typically does not pose a problem if you adhere to the legal limits and documentation requirements of your destination. It is always best to ensure your insulin is clearly labeled and accompanied by the appropriate medical prescriptions or letters from your doctor.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide valuable resources and guidance for travelers needing to carry medications internationally.

Related article: Tips for Traveling with Medication Internationally: Preparation & Documents.

How to Keep Insulin Cold on a Plane

Bringing insulin on a plane isn't just about taking it through airport security screenings. It's also about meticulous attention to how it is stored and transported during your flight. Maintaining the correct storage temperature for your insulin is crucial to ensure it remains effective and doesn't spoil during your travels.

  • If you're flying with unopened insulin, it is essential to carry it in a refrigerated travel case, ideally between 36°F and 46°F (2°C to 8°C). 
  • If you're flying with opened insulin, it can be transported at room temperature, up to a maximum of 77°F (25°C) for about a month depending on the insulin type. However, when traveling to or through regions where temperatures might exceed this threshold, you should use a cooler to protect it from the heat.

Besides, to keep your insulin cool on a plane, your cooler must be TSA-approved, so you comply with airline regulations and can take it through airport security screenings!

Related article: How to Travel With Insulin That Needs Refrigeration or Cooling!

TSA-approved insulin travel cases for opened insulin

For opened insulin pens or vials that must be protected from heat and carried below 77°F (25°C) during your flight and travel, 4AllFamily offers a wide range of TSA-approved insulin travel cases.

The Chiller Advanced Travel Cases offer a reliable and lightweight solution. These cooling pouches for insulin use innovative evaporative cooling technology to keep insulin cool for 45 hours, without the need for ice or electricity. Perfect for air travels!

The Rambler Single-Pen Insulin Travel Case allows you to keep one single insulin pen cool for 12 to 16 hours depending on external temperatures.

And if you need to fly with large quantities of insulin, the Companion Insulated Cooler Bag can transport up to five insulin pens!

4AllFamily TSA approved insulin travel coolers for flying with insulin

 

TSA-approved insulin coolers for refrigerated insulin

Now, if you're flying with stocks of unopened insulin that needs to be refrigerated, you'd need to get a TSA-approved insulin travel refrigerator. Our portable insulin travel fridges reliably maintain insulin within the safe range of 36°F to 46°F (2°C to 8°C).

The Voyager Travel Refrigerator, for instance, allows you to safely travel with up to 7 refrigerated insulin pens for more than 30 hours off-the-grid, or for an unlimited time when plugged into a USB power source. With the Nomad Portable Cooling Cases, you can also refrigerate up to 7 insulin pens while traveling without electricity. And the same goes with the Explorer, our 3-in-1 Insulin Cooler, that can carry your insulin pens refrigerated for over 52 hours! 

And of, course, all our insulin coolers are TSA-approved so you can keep your insulin cold on the plane!

 

4AllFamily Travel Refrigerators for Insulin, TSA approved for airplane travels

 

Flying with Insulin: What Else to Know

How much insulin can you take on a plane?

You can bring as much insulin as you need onto a plane-there's no limit. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) permits diabetic travelers to carry sufficient quantities of insulin and related diabetes supplies in their carry-on luggage, as long as these items are declared at security checkpoints. Carry the amount necessary for the duration of your stay, plus a little extra in case of delays or emergencies, ensuring it's justifiable as personal use.

Can insulin go through airport scanners?

Yes, insulin can safely go through airport scanners. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confirms that insulin and all other diabetes-related supplies, including vials, pens, and pumps, are allowed to pass through security screening equipment.

While it is generally safe for insulin to be screened by X-ray machines, if you have any concerns about the impact of scanning on your insulin, you can request a visual inspection instead.

Can insulin pumps go through airport scanners?

The sensitivity of insulin pumps to X-ray screening and full-body scanners varies depending on the manufacturer's recommendations. Many insulin pump manufacturers advise that insulin pumps should not be exposed to the high-energy X-ray used in some full-body scanners at airports. To avoid any potential damage or malfunction, simply inform the TSA officer at the security checkpoint that you are wearing an insulin pump and would prefer a hand-check instead of going through the body scanner or having the pump pass through the X-ray machine.

Related article: Can Insulin Pumps go Through X-ray & Metal Detectors at the Airport?

Can CGMs go through airport scanners?

Yes, Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) can generally go through airport scanners. However, it's important to consult the specific guidelines provided by your CGM manufacturer regarding exposure to these types of screening devices. Some manufacturers may recommend that CGMs not be subjected to certain types of scanning equipment to avoid potential damage or inaccuracies in readings. If your CGM manufacturer advises against passing through a particular scanner, you have the right to request a manual inspection of your device at the airport.

Does flying affect blood sugar?

Yes, flying may affect your blood sugar levels due to changes in routine, stress, altitude and pressure variations, and prolonged inactivity during flights. Here are a few tips for managing your blood sugars while on the plane:

  • Keep a close check on your blood sugar levels to manage any unexpected changes.
  • Drinking water helps counteract dehydration, which can influence blood sugar levels.
  • Have snacks ready to address low or high blood sugar when necessary.
  • Ask your doctor for advice before departure and discuss potential adjustments to your insulin regimen to accommodate for potential travel disruptions.

How to inject insulin on the plane?

Injecting insulin on a plane requires a few additional steps to ensure it's done safely and effectively, especially due to the atmospheric pressure changes during flight which can affect insulin delivery.

Before injecting, it's important to prime your insulin pen, especially on an airplane. This helps remove any air bubbles that may have formed due to changes in cabin pressure. If you're uncomfortable with your neighbor watching, consider using a blanket or clothing to maintain privacy. Informing a flight attendant about your need to take medication can also ensure you are not disturbed during the injection.

Related article: 10 Tips That Work to Inject Insulin Without Pain!

We'd Love to Hear From You!

If you have any experiences or tips about flying with insulin, please share them in the comments below. Your insights could help other travelers navigate their air travels more smoothly. And if you have any questions about taking insulin on a plane, don't hesitate to ask. Let's support each other in managing diabetes while traveling! 

Article Last Updated on May, 22, 2024

October 16, 2022

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The information presented in this article and its comment section is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a replacement for professional medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for any medical concerns or questions you may have.