Travels agents are encouraging Thanksgiving and Christmas travelers to get their tickets now as the skies promise to be busier than ever this holiday season.

More than 2.5 million domestic and international passengers take flight every day, according to the FAA. Many of those have type 2 diabetes.

With passengers facing strict carryon restrictions, those planning to fly must know what is acceptable to carry on board in the event of protracted delays, unexpected layovers or low blood sugar.

Most important, be candid about your situation, Cheri Ridenour, R.N. at RiverStone Health Clinic in Billings, Montana, said in an email interview.

“Inform airport security that you have diabetes and have brought your medical supplies,” Ridenour said. “Pack all your diabetes supplies in carryon baggage, not check on bag. Have them in plastic containers so that they are easily recognizable by screeners. Keep medications and insulin in original packaging to prove the prescriptions are your own.”

Additionally, know that if you have any questions, assistance is available at your fingertips, Michael S. McCarthy, regional public affairs manager and spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration in an email interview.

TSA Cares is a helpline that provides travelers with disabilities, medical conditions and other special circumstances additional assistance during the security screening process. TSA Cares: (855) 787-2227, McCarthy said. Call 72 hours prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint.

The “bottom line,” McCarthy said is that the TSA does not prohibit any medically necessary liquids or medically necessary devices when traveling by air.

“Passengers should understand that all items must be screened to be allowed in the cabin of the aircraft,” McCarthy said. “TSA are able to use X-ray to clear these items, they may ask to open the container and transfer the contents. TSA officers may test liquids, gels or aerosols for explosives or concealed prohibited items.”

Passengers should inform the TSA officer if they do not want their liquid medication to be screened by X-ray or opened. Additional steps will be taken to clear the liquid and you will undergo additional screening procedures to include a pat-down and screening of other carry-on property, McCarthy said.
The TSA employs passenger support specialists, McCarthy said. Travelers requiring special accommodations or concerned about the security screening process at the airport may ask a TSA officer or supervisor for a passenger support specialist who can provide on-the-spot assistance.

McCarthy also outlined the TSA’s guidelines when it comes to medications, liquids, accessories and other advice.


Medications in pill or other solid form must undergo security screening. It is recommended that medication be clearly labeled to facilitate the screening process. Check with state laws regarding prescription medication labels.

You are responsible for displaying, handling, and repacking the medication when screening is required. Medication can undergo a visual or X-ray screening and may be tested for traces of explosives.

Inform the TSA Officer

Inform the TSA officer that you have medically necessary liquids and/or medications and separate them from other belongings before screening begins. Also declare accessories associated with your liquid medication such as freezer packs, IV bags, pumps and syringes. Labeling these items can help facilitate the screening process.

3-1-1 Liquids Rule Exemption

You may bring medically necessary liquids, medications and creams in excess of 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in your carry-on bag. Remove them from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings. You are not required to place your liquid medication in a plastic zip-top bag. If a liquid, gel, or aerosol declared as medically-necessary alarms, then it may require additional screening and may not be allowed


Ice packs, freezer packs, gel packs, and other accessories may be presented at the screening checkpoint in a frozen or partially-frozen state to keep medically necessary items cool. All items, including supplies associated with medically necessary liquids such as IV bags, pumps, and syringes must be screened before they will be permitted into the secure area of the airport.

Clear communication and planning ahead are critical.

To help readers and travelers even further, here is a link to guide to flying for people with disabilities, which was created in conformance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to accommodate disabled readers, and is compatible with a broad range of assistive technology.

This guide provides travel tips and airport considerations for each type of disability, as well as information on your rights and accommodations as a disabled traveler.


Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on