5 Good-To-Know Facts about Air Travel for People with Diabetes

Save yourself from unpleasant surprises.


Insulin storage. Do not store your insulin in your checked luggage. The extreme temperature (generally freezing) can damage your insulin. Before every injection, inspect your insulin. If it looks funky, you might want to throw it away. Rest assured that security scanners do not damage insulin and glucometer.

Pumps at the checkpoint. The hand-held metal detector and the walk-through metal detector can damage your pumps. Notify the security officer and set them aside for inspection.

Pumps at takeoff and landing. Just like portable devices, disconnect your pumps before takeoff and landing. The change in altitude can cause the pump to shoot out more insulin than it should. You can reconnect your pump when the airplane crew gives out the OK to use the portable devices. Inspect for any presence of bubbles and reprime if needed.

Liquids Exemption. People with diabetes may carry liquids in containers larger than 3.4 oz. Liquids include insulin, diabetes meds like Glucagon, and juice. At the checkpoint, remove these containers from your carry-on luggage and place them in a separate bin for screening. It is not necessary to store them in a zip-top bag. Advise the TSA officer of your medical condition. Having on hand a doctor’s note will facilitate the procedure. If you are traveling outside the U.S., please communicate with the appropriate airport for more information. International airports may have different regulations on the matter.

Medical kits. While U.S. airlines have strict rules to abide by for their medical kits and is generally well equipped, the same cannot be said for international airlines. Hence, you should never rely on the medical kit found on airplanes to save you from a pitch. Carry your own medical emergency kit. For a sound mind, you can give the airlines a call to inquire about their medical equipment and services available for people with diabetes.


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