ADA Says Exercise on the Side of Caution When Traveling by Air

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has implemented stepped-up security measures at the nation’s airports in response to the tragic events of September 11. Some new security measures may affect airline passengers with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recognizes the added inconvenience this may pose for individuals with diabetes, but understands the necessity to secure airline passenger safety.

The best approach right now is to exercise on the side of caution.

While passengers with diabetes were previously advised to have prescriptions and letters of medical necessity to present, the FAA’s verbal directives to the ADA say those will not be accepted because of forgery concerns.

The FAA now says passengers may board airplanes with syringes or insulin delivery systems only if they can produce a vial of insulin with a professional, pharmaceutical pre-printed label that clearly identifies the medication. No exceptions will be made. Because the prescription information is on the outside of the box that contains the vial of insulin, it is recommended that you do not discard your insulin box so that it may be presented.

Those who test their blood-glucose levels but do not require insulin may board with lancets as long as they are capped and brought with your meter, which needs to have the manufacturer’s name embossed on it (i.e., “Accu-Chek,” “One Touch,” etc.).

Glucagon kits need to be kept intact in the original container with the pre-printed label from the pharmacy.

At this time, individual airline carriers may have other requirements that further restrict a passenger’s ability to board with diabetes equipment and supplies. Each passenger is urged to call the airline carrier at least one day in advance of his or her scheduled flight to confirm what that airline’s policy is with regard to diabetes medication and supplies. Be advised that each airline’s policy is subject to change.

Should a passenger be denied boarding a flight or be faced with any other unforeseen diabetes-related difficulty because of the FAA’s security measures, he or she should contact the FAA grounds security commissioner at the departing airport, who should be able to assist with resolution.

In addition, contact the American Diabetes Association at (703) 549-1500 x2108 so that it may be kept informed of airline protocols and security measures. The Civil Aviation Security division of the FAA may also be contacted at (202) 267-9863. The Association will continue to monitor this situation and keep you informed of new developments.

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