Tips for Carrying Your Prescription Medications on Flights

October 25th, 2006

Some people, especially seniors, are taking a variety of medications. With the tightening of airport security regulations, you may have concerns about packing to avoid delays or hassles.

Carrying a list of all your medications and dosages can be useful, especially if you are traveling oversees. However, in an emergency situation, labels on original prescription bottles can help medical personnel determine what medications you are taking.

The usual advice has been to keep your prescription meds in their original containers. This strategy poses a problem because multiple containers take up a lot of space. You may not be allowed to take your medications in your carry-on luggage without a label that matches the name on your ticket.

In the U.S., passengers on flights are still restricted to carrying only three ounces of water or other liquids with them. These regulations can be waived in special circumstances if you have appropriate documentation. If you are carrying liquid or gel-cap medications on your flight, it’s important to have your prescription information handy.

Packing your medications in your checked luggage can be a solution. That is, unless your bag is misplaced or delayed in route to your destination or drugs are lost in the baggage search process.

To simplify your screening process, airlines have requested that passengers traveling with carry-on medication place them in one-quart, clear, plastic zip-lock bags. If you need to take medication during your flight, keep the pills you will need in a small pill box or compartmentalized, plastic pill container.

In order to stay on your drug schedule, notify your flight attendant when your board the plane if you will require water before they make their rounds down the aisle.

Some health plans allow vacation refills in small, labeled bottles, even if it isn’t time for your next refill. Ask the pharmacist to have your prescription split into two smaller bottles.

Hopefully, security restrictions at airports will soon be relaxed. Until that time, perhaps these suggestions might help you.

Sources:  Johns Hopkins Medical Letter, November 2006; recent personal experience with travel by plane and getting through Customs


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