Flying With Diabetes: What You Need To Know

Diabetes is a serious chronic condition, and flying with diabetes does present a series of complications for passengers and airport officials alike. 

However, there is absolutely no reason for diabetes to keep you grounded and travel authorities do tend to go out of their way to make that travel experience as comfortable as possible, while taking national security into account.

Planning ahead when you travel reduces stress. This is particularly important for a diabetic. The onus is on you, to seek clarity on how airports make air travel easier for you.

Here are some tips that can help to make flying with diabetes more comfortable.

Tips For Managing Flying With Diabetes

Tips For Managing Diabetes When Flying

While we accept that all forms of plane travel require extensive planning, preparing air travel as a diabetic is a significantly more detailed operation. 
The first port of call will be to conduct meaningful research on your destinations, especially for the connecting flights. That is an often overlooked detail.

You need to find out what kind of medical help is available and where the available pharmacies in those regions are. That is the kind of detail that will determine the kind of packaging you do before boarding a plane. 

That will also determine the kind of preparation you will need to complete before checking in at an airport. 

The screening process at airports is quite detailed and rigid. Knowing what you do and don’t need before traveling is not necessarily game-changing stuff, but it can help streamline the process. 

Preparations and Packing

  • You need to make a list of all the medication that you require and talk about the trip with your doctor. That includes the length of that trip and the time it will take to complete it. Doctors will help you keep your meal and medication schedule as balanced as possible for the duration of your trip.
  • This might not have a considerable amount to do with the plane travel itself, but if you are heading on a vacation, the risk of blisters and cuts does increase and that could become infected during your trip. Walking around barefoot as a diabetic should never be regarded as a reasonable option.
  • When you are traveling as a diabetic, it will also be prudent to wear medical ID jewelry, a list of instructions on what to do and who to contact in case of an emergency and obviously a comprehensive emergency contact list. Ideally, it should be in the language spoken in the country you’re visiting. Not everyone speaks your language and you don’t want medical problems through misunderstandings.
  • More often than not you should probably pack more medication and diabetic supplies than you need, while traveling, in case you find yourself stranded for a few extra days – there could ultimately be several reasons for this. Off the bat, poor weather does come to mind. 
  • Meals can be delayed and worse still they can be misplaced. The air transport business is busy and complicated. Things do not always go smoothly. Do yourself a favor by packing a sandwich or some other meaningful snack for the flight. Even if you order the diabetic meal on the airplane, there is no telling what could happen to that meal while on your journey. 
  • Be aware of time zone changes, especially when altering your watch. Remember when you travel east your day becomes shorter; if you travel west your day becomes longer. You may need to alter the timings of your medication.
  • If you are going on a vacation that will involve lots of extra physical activity (such as camping or hiking), be sure that you bring extra food to replace the energy that is going to be used up. If there is going to be less physical activity, more frequent testing of blood sugar levels will be necessary to make sure too much insulin isn’t being used.

Airport Security and Diabetes

TSA rules will allow you to transport diabetes medication and supplies both as check-in and as carry-on. Because the future is always so difficult to predict, you should always have the essential medical items in your carry-on bag. 

This is in case of flight delays or luggage getting lost while in transit. Luggage getting lost is very common. It is also prudent to carry a note from your doctor, that confirms that you need to carry insulin and the medical equipment that goes with it. 

It will honestly help simplify the screening process you are likely to encounter at airport security. Make sure your insulin is not exposed to the X-ray machine because it could have an adverse effect.

TSA Rules For Diabetes Supplies

It is almost inevitable that passengers travelling in the United States and around the world will have medical needs that ought to be taken care of. The Transport Security Administration (TSA) is well aware of this and there are contingencies that have been put into place to help cater for those pressing medical needs. 

Whatever the medical needs, it is also important that you as the passenger follow the rules and regulations to the T, to avoid jeopardizing your travel plans. 

It needs to be understood that the security risks associated with medication are high. So, do not try to be slick on this one. 

Medication in liquid or solid form is allowed in your carry on bag and is exempt from the TSA’s 311 liquid rule. This will also apply for medical accessories like IV bags, pumps and syringes. It is also incumbent upon you to make sure those things are clearly labeled, to ease the screening process at the airport. 

It is also important to allow yourself time to have all of your medication screened and taken care of at the airport. On that score, it would be prudent to arrive early for a flight to ensure there is enough time to address this before you board. 

You need to inform the officer in question of your ailment or disability and show them the relevant notification card before your screening process begins. If you do not want any of your medical products to be screened by X-ray, officers at the airport also need to be notified of this, so that other steps can be taken to screen them.

If you are travelling with a medical device that is attached to your body, you need to inform the officers in question prior to your pat down or screening. If the device can be detached and if it is medically allowed, that device will then be screened by X-ray. 

If you cannot disconnect the device, some additional screening will be required. 

So in keeping with this theme, the passenger needs to ensure that a TSA officer knows about his or her diabetes and that supplies will be carried with them during the flight. That includes insulin pumps and any other supplies that might be required for travel. 

The pumps and supplies must be accompanied by insulin, which needs to be clearly identifiable, regardless of how it is being carried. 

You can transport the insulin in your carry-on bag or you can store it in your check-in bag. With the carry-on bags, there will be additional and special instructions. 

Among those insulin supplies is a Blood Sugar Test Kit (this site reviewed the best ones). It is something you can transport with a carry-on bag or a check-in bag. 

Again, to avoid any form of embarrassment, it is important to notify the TSA officer on duty about your medical requirements in this regard. You need to tell officers that you have diabetes and that you are carrying a Blood Sugar Test Kit with you. 

All diabetes-related supplies, equipment and the relevant medication need to be declared to officials in advance and clearly separated from other baggage items. 

If any of your medical items weigh more than 3.4 ounces, additional screening will be done and you need to be prepared for that. If you are carrying a liquid or gel, you will probably be requested to open that too, for additional screening. 

The insulin pumps can be checked with imaging technology. However, metal detectors are also sometimes used. If neither of those options is suitable to you – and this is often the case – a pat down is the preferred option but officers need to be notified of this intention well in advance.

Does Flying Affect Your Blood Sugar? 

Yes, it does. All of the reasons we mentioned above have an impact. 
That ranges from flight delays to food sustainable. The very fact that you have been sitting on a plane for a protracted period will likely have an adverse effect on your blood sugar level.

As a diabetic, it often helps to be active. Unfortunately, there is not always an opportunity for that while in transit. Therefore, wearing compression socks when flying as a diabetic is not an unnecessary luxury!

Is There A Difference Between Flying With Type1 and Type2 Diabetes?  

The rules are more relevant for people with type 1 diabetes, as they are actually allowed to travel with more than the regulated amount of 3.4 ounces of liquid per item. 

Some sources actually reveal that you can carry as much insulin as you need while in transit, as long as the proper screening is done and the relevant declarations are made.

Type 2 diabetes is more common but is a milder form of diabetes and more manageable when traveling, whether that be by boat or air. 

Conclusion

Flying with diabetes need not be traumatic. A sensible attitude and a bit of pre-travel planning can make things go far more smoothly.

Is it safe for a diabetic to fly?

According to the Transportation Security Administration, certain diabetes-related supplies, equipment, and medications are permitted through the checkpoint once they are properly screened. If you have diabetes and are carrying supplies with you, please inform the TSA officer at the airport.

Can I carry insulin and needles on the plane?

Although insulin delivery devices are allowed on airplanes, it is a good idea to carry a doctor’s letter or a label with your medication supplies. You can go through airport security with a lancet if they are secured properly and have the manufacturer’s name on them.

What should diabetics always carry with them?

You may bring these items into checked or carry-on luggage, but they may not be used with blades.

How do you bring a needle on a plane?

You may place your needles and tools in checked baggage or carry-on luggage. However, you may not bring blades for these items with you. It is allowed to carry-on or checked luggage to carry-on medications in any form. You can also bring them in checked or carry-on bags.

How do you carry diabetic supplies?

Put your diabetes supplies in a small bag so they can fit in your checked luggage. Also, think about bringing a smaller bag so they can be easily accessed. You can still bring a bottle of water through security checkpoints if you fill it up before going through.

What snacks are not allowed on a plane?

Imagine: peanut butter, cheese, liquid chocolate, sour cream, dill, hummus, juice, peanut butter, salad dressing, and yogurt. Think: peanut butter, cheese, liquid chocolate, peanut butter, jelly, juice, syrup, and salad dressing.

Do prescriptions have to be in original containers when flying?

Most of the time, medicines are best kept in labeled containers provided by their pharmacist. However, it is important to keep the original bottles in their original location. All medicines should be in their original, label-friendly containers.