Flying for the 1st time.. need help!

So in March I am flying for the first time…

Any ideas of what I would need to get from my Dr. before I fly…

Like do I need a piece of paper says “I am D and I have a pump” ?

I know that I have to have all of my meds in orignal containers with pham. labels on them.

I need advise on what else I would need to bring with me on the aorplane…

I just posted something similar to this on the type 1 forum… I don’t know how to link it but, it shouldn’t be more than like 6 pages back. Anyways, what I was told was that I wouldn’t need anything stating that I have diabetes and am on a pump, but that I would need the insulin to be in the boxes with Rx labels. You know the rest: plenty of pump supplies, strips, etc.- more than you think you’ll need. Oh, and someone told me to do this just in case you lose your luggage or something else happens, but put your supplies in more than one place, like divide them up so you won’t be stuck without anything!

Hope this helps!

Well Dave, maybe for Americans you don’t need insulin in Rx box or letter from GP/endo for flying, but here in Canada, we do. Strange that Canada has stricter laws then USA tho’ - thought it would be the same for your country as well.

So Sarah, here’s a link to help you out and answer your question, directly from the horses mouth which is TSA (Travel Security Administration) -…. Also, always carry your medical supplies in your carry on, I have never put my supplies underneath the plane! Tho’ it depends on how long you are going for of course.I’ve been away for 3 weeks, and can carry my supplies with no probs in my carry on or small carrying bag that I can put in the compartment above my seat or under the chair in front of me. Whatever works for you!

Also, Sarah, don’t be worried about going thru’ security. I do alot of traveling to the USA, and because of wearing my pump, I get patted down, pump swiped. It’s just part of travel for me and it takes an extra 15 minutes of your time. What’s better is the airports in the USA that have the body scanners, went thru’ a few of those last month, bing, bang, boom, less then 5 minutes, I was thru’ security. Very efficient and quick. No complaints to TSA at all - they have a tough job to do with the way flight security is these days.

Have a good holiday - and take lots of pictures!!!

If you read the link I posted above Dave - it does state “Insulin and insulin loaded dispensing products (vials or box of individual vials, jet injectors, biojectors, epipens, infusers, and preloaded syringes” So, in away, you will have the Rx on the box for your insulin. BTW Sarah, I use the insulin box to keep my insulin secure as well (so it doesn’t get too shaken up to the point of champagne bubbles ), and it doesn’t take up much extra room.

Now, now, lets not get testy over this. I’ve flown a bit before. ALL diabetic supplies are allowed in virtually unlimited quantities. You want to bring a case full of insulin, you can probably do that. You want to bring a suitcase of used syringes, fine. You might be asked a few questions, but they are allowed. While technically, Dave is correct, you can save yourself a hassle by being informed about security procedures. You are technically not required to to have a prescription, but you need to remember two things:

Declare all your items to the TSA officer
If any items are suspect you may be asked to answer questions/provide more info

Here is the precise language (

It is recommended (not required) that passengers bring along any supporting documentation (ID cards, letter from doctor, etc.) regarding their medication needs. It is recommended, not required, that the label on prescription medications match the passengers boarding pass. If the name on prescription medication label does not match the name of the passenger, the passenger should expect to explain why to the security officers. To ensure a smooth screening process, passengers are encouraged to limit quantities to what is needed for the duration of the flight.

And yes, I’ve had prescriptions and diabetic supplies pulled and been asked questions, usually when I missed pointing it out as I went through security. What I do is call out to the scanning operator that I have medical supplies is all that is needed, and you just get passed through. But remember, never check your insulin, you can never tell what it might be exposed to.

I fly a lot including internationally and I have never been challendged about insulin, needles, or the pump. I always carry the insulin and divide pump supplies between check in and a carryon bag. I would not check the insulin since I think it may freeze with the checked baggage. Good luck.

I wonder what will happen after the first terrorist attempts to take down a plane using diabetes as a cover.

"No Mr. TSA, all this is insulin that I use for my diabetes. And this is my insulin pump.

An hour later BOOM!!!

And then diabetics will have to drive every where or go MDI on planes.

Other than documentation, you may also want to bring along some snacks and juice boxes (I also travel with glucose tabs, but prefer juice to treat a low). You don’t know what will happen in terms of delays, when you will be aboe to get food or a snack, etc.

That’s been a thought of mine for quite a long time, simply stating that it’s a medical device and then zoom through security.

Over the years I’ve been flying quite a bit within the US and abroad both on MDI and on the pump. I always heard you need a letter from your doc for your insulin and syringes and I always got one but I never, repeat never, had any need to show it to anyone. If you’re traveling abroad it might be a good idea to check their laws and requirements, but in the US (in my experience) I have hardly ever even been asked about any of it (insulin, syringes, pump, accessories etc). I even go through with my own bottle of water and when they ask I say it’s because I’m diabetic and they let me through.

On MDI the worst thing that ever happened to me with security was when I was returning from Greece flying into JFK (New York). The security lady didn’t like me carrying all those syringes on board and confiscated them. She informed me that when I needed them I could ask a flight attendant who would give me as much as I needed and supervise me while using it. On board before take off I kept asking to make sure they made it on the plane with me and I was assured they did. When I finally asked for one in mid-flight they gave them all back to me and nobody ever bothered to monitor what I did with them.

With the pump I was told I would definitely need a letter from my doctor. He wrote me a ridiculous letter on plain paper with no letterhead that said (and this is a direct quote):

“Patient uses an insulin deliver method that is non-traditional. The pump is not a threat to your security measures.”

Under that he signed it with a typical nondescript signature that I could have forged easily. Nobody ever asked me for it. Before I went through the metal detector I informed them I was wearing a pump, in case it set off the machine, and the officer asked me to show him. I lifted my shirt and he let me through with any hassle whatsoever.

I think your biggest concerns should be with what to pack and where. I read some excellent guidelines/tips in the “traveling with diabetes” group which was full of great info I had never thought about before. I highly recommend you give it a look.

I’ve flown with the US many times this past year and I was never asked to show proof that I was diabetic. I brought a medical note from my endo just in case, but was never asked to show it. I carried my syringes, insulin, meter, etc in my purse and was never asked to prove what it was. When I put my purse through the metal detector, I took out my diabetes supplies to be scanned separately and I’ve never been asked for them to be confiscated.

I would second the suggestion to bring a few snacks (pre packaged) on the plane because I was in an instance when we had delays for over 6 hours and I had to go and purchase at the terminal. But, there have been issues lately in the news about sometimes being delays for take off and landing and them not allowing the passengers off the plane. So, be prepared. (They will not allow drinks, that I’m aware of- except if you use Pavlos’s idea to inform them that you’re diabetic. My diet soda and regular soda were confiscated at security check point)

When I was on the pump, they didn’t ask questions. The security guard just wanted to be shown what it was and where it was hooked up to my body and that was that.

There is a separate metal detector in the security that people with medical devices go through (at most airports) and it tends to be much quicker than the general security anyway. :slight_smile: If you’re in that security line, they don’t usually give a lot of hassle to special needs because they are expecting it.

When on the plane, my BG tended to go high. Stay hydrated and keep checking your BG while in flight. Also, you may notice your knees and joints aching for a little while after the flight. Diabetics tend to water retain, so you may feel a little “out of sorts” for a day or two after the flight.

Good luck and safe travels!


I guess it goes with the notion, “better safe than sorry!” You never know when you might get a really moody security guard and I would hate to miss my flight due to something as miniscule as that. You know? I still bring one JUST IN CASE, but (like you said) have never been asked to show it. I could probably stop bringing one and stop asking my endo for one every flight… but… I probably won’t stop. haha.

I just got back from Mexico recently which was my first time out of the states and first time flying since being on the pump. I had my DR give me a letter (JUST IN CASE) that she wrote on a prescription stating I was on an insulin pump for type 1 diabetes. That’s it. For the most part I had no issues going through security in the states or in Mexico as long as I let them know before going through that I was diabetic and showed them I had an insulin pump on. Once I was asked to take my cell phone off and when I said it was an insulin pump the lady apologized and let me go through. One time I was asked for a note from my DR so I DID have to show it once but that was after they saw my insulin in my purse and that was leaving Mexico to come back to the states. With all the security issues going on with flying I didn’t want to take a chance NOT to have a note from my DR because you just never know. I’d rather have it and never need it then not have it and then need it. I was told I wouldn’t need it but I ended up using it in the end. It doesn’t take a DR that long to write a little note stating your diabetic and on a pump. I would at least have one if you’re flying out of the states. But I personally will bring mine anytime I fly again. I had my glucometer in my purse so I could do blood tests on the plane, a juice box,candy and insulin. My other carry on had my pump supplies as well as a glucagon kit, extra glucometer and I put all other extra diabetic supplies in my other bags.

yes to everything everyone has said about medication and flying…

as for food, I recommend buying a bottle of juice from Hudson News rather than bringing it in a carry-on. You are allowed to bring liquids on board if it’s juice for a diabetic, but I have had 2 experiences where they were required to take it from me and “test” it, which didn’t take long but was annoying nonetheless. I usually pack a couple of juice boxes in my checked luggage, and then buy something at Hudson News. That won’t work for everyone, and especially not if you always carry-on your luggage, but it’s something to think about. Unless you are traveling in the middle of the night and the airport is closed, you’ll always be able to get food at the airport but make sure your bring something on the plane, because flight attendants are not always the quickest people in the world (though usually they are pretty good)…

I always take off my pump. When they see it, they ask to wand it because it has a “wire” and I just HATE being stopped for any reason. Maybe I should hide it better? I’ve also set off the alarm a couple of times, and then I have to get patted down. So now I don’t even bother…

The only reason I would ever bring a prescription is in the event my insulin bottle breaks or I need to go to the pharmacy for something. Depending on time zones or if you’re traveling over a weekend, your Dr might not be around to fill a script or it could just take time.

Well as I said previously it DID just happen to me and I DID have to show my DR note to a guard… but again I was leaving Mexico to get back into the states so maybe that was why. The lines at the airport were already horrible, the wait was horrible, the guards opened and went through every single bag everyone had(carry on or not) due to even stricter security measures because of the Christmas terrorist scare in the states. So the last thing I would have wanted to do then was to have to wait even longer to speak to a supervisor after being asked for a note from my DR. I showed my note and went on through with no other issues. I was glad I had my note because I DID have to use it even if it’s not required or should be required. It will probably be the one and only time I may ever use it but I will still keep it with me when I fly again just in case. It’s just a piece of paper anyway(big deal) It’s not like you’re carrying around a brick or something.

The rule is specifically for US travel only. I think Australia or a European country has a rule that you must have a doctor’s note w/ you if carrying insulin. There was a story a while back about a man who didn’t have a dr.'s note or a script w/ his insulin and the airline would not let him board without it. He unfortunately chose to get on the plane anyway (I think it was a 9-10 hour flight) and ended up being really sick from it.

I don’t remember having to show a script/doc note last time I flew out of Mexico, though, so I think that was the Christmas scare that prompted those actions.

Stacey- agreed! Not gonna take up much room in my wallet and IF it happens, atleast I won’t have MORE of a hassle to worry about when flying. The security lines take about 2 hours to get through around here as it is!

Yes I have no doubt that it was the Christmas scare that prompted that guard asking for a note. My only point was to be prepared no matter what and to expect the unexpected. I had no issues leaving the states but everything changed by the time I came back. I also had unexpected problems with my insulin pump sets once I was in Mexico too which rarely ever happens to me otherwise so I was glad I had packed much more insulin pump supplies with me then I anticipated needing there. I was very thankful for that too.

Exactly…thank you Marps. :0)~