A frequent question that our team of Canada Drugs pharmacists often get over the phone and through our Ask a Pharmacist online tool concerns questions about traveling by air with medication and any precautions that need to be taken when flying with medication.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the government agency in control of implementing and enforcing security measures for airlines and airports and their suggestions for flying with medication are found on their website in detail here . A quick run down of their tips are below.
- Pack extra medicine and supplies when traveling in case you are away from home longer than you expect or there are travel delays.
- Carry a copy of your prescriptions in your carry-on, purse, or wallet when you travel.
- Remember that prescription medications are allowed in carry-on bags, with some restrictions. Prescriptions must be in their original pharmacy container labeled with the name of the passenger. Be sure that the name is the same as on your ticket. Don’t combine your medications into one bottle; take each type of medication in its own labeled bottle. Place all medications in a plastic bag for ease during security screening.
- If you are taking injectable medications (e.g., Fuzeon, insulin, testosterone) you must have the medication along with you in order to carry empty syringes.
- Do not remove syringes or medicines from the original packaging with printed labels and manufacturer’s information. Packaging is a good way to help airport security identify your medicines. Opening packages or taking pills out of their prescription bottles will delay your time in security.
- Show copies of your prescriptions and/or your medication bottles you have in your carry-on when you present to airport security. If you have any problems ask to see a supervisor.
- You can ask and are entitled to a private screening to maintain your confidentiality.
- In response to security issues at your departure site and destination site, travel restrictions can change often. Arrange 2 to 3 hours before your flight in order to pass through security in plenty of time.
- With recent security concerns, the amount of liquids you are allowed to carry-on is limited and in some cases prohibited. Liquids, gels, and aerosol preparations are allowed as long as these are in 3-ounce or smaller containers. Larger containers that are partially full are not permitted. All liquids, gels, and aerosols must be placed in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. Each traveler can use only one plastic bag. These bags must be removed from carry-on baggage and placed in a bin or on the conveyor belt for x-ray screening.
- In some cases, the airline may ask the on-board staff to store your medicines and syringes during flight. Keep your medicines, syringes, and supplies together in a carry-on case or travel case to make passing them to and from the flight staff easier with less chance of losing medications or supplies.
- If traveling abroad, become familiar with the laws, restrictions, and requirements of the countries you are traveling to. The US requires all passengers to declare medicines and syringes when traveling abroad.
- Contact your airline if you need special assistance with transportation or other medical needs prior to boarding. Airlines are still responsible for offering assistance to passengers with extra needs. The TSA security officer’s job is limited to assistance with security screening. Ask the airline for a gate pass so that your companion or caretaker can accompany you to the gate if necessary.
Another question we get quite often about travel from our patients deals with having medications shipped to another address different than the home address supplied when placing the original prescription order. For those of our patients who winter away from home, or are taking extended vacations, we can have your order sent to your vacation home very easily. Just advise our Patient Service Representative when placing your order or refill and we can have your order sent to another address.