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Air travel advice - update

Following talks with the Department for Transport (DfT) over the tightening of security at airports, Diabetes UK would like to issue the following guidance to people with diabetes who are planning to fly:


  • Ideally, try to carry a note from your doctor explaining why you need to take medication on board, or a diabetes ID card that displays your photo and is signed by your doctor or nurse. Alternatively carry a prescription with your name on it.
  • All diabetes equipment should be placed in a clear plastic bag.
  • Check-in staff and cabin crew should be made aware of the need to carry diabetes equipment and food or drink.
  • A spare set of diabetes equipment should be carried in case of loss or damage.
  • You should take double the amount of medication you expect to use on your travels. This is because you may need to increase your dose in case of illness.
  • Up to 50mls of insulin - usually enough for a few weeks - is allowed on board a plane.
  • If any more insulin is needed, we have been advised by the DfT that it has to be stored in the hold. Our advice based on information from insulin manufacturers has always been to avoid storing insulin in baggage which goes into the hold, as travelling at altitude may cause the baggage to freeze, which would damage the insulin.We have spoken to an insulin manufacturer and they have advised, in this current emergency situation, to place insulin that has to go in the hold, in an airtight container (such as a flask) in the middle of your suitcase. Alternatively, if an airtight container isn't available, wrap in bubble wrap, then in a towel and again place in the middle of your suitcase.
  • On arrival you must examine the insulin for crystals and discard the insulin if any are found. Even if it looks ok, you should test your blood glucose levels more frequently and if they appear abnormal, discard the insulin as it may be damaged and ineffective.
  • Before travelling, try to find out where you can get further supplies of insulin at your destination, in case of emergency.
  • For general diabetes management, people with diabetes should carry starchy carbohydrate foods, such as biscuits, and soft drinks, eg diet cola and water, on board the aircraft. These must be purchased after going through customs.
  • Glucose tablets, Lucozade and fluids used to treat hypos can be carried on board along with longer-acting carbohydrates such as biscuits. Again, these must be purchased after going through customs.

Please note that there are different food and drink regulations in place for people travelling to the US.People are not allowed to take drinks onto these flights but food and glucose tablets can be carried. Again these must be purchased after going through customs.

For further information, we would recommend contacting your airline directly, or BAA on 020 7834 9449.For information and advice on travelling and diabetes, please call Diabetes UK Careline.

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