Flying and spending some time in an unfamiliar destination when you have a potentially life-threatening allergy, or are otherwise at risk of anaphylaxis, cardiac arrest, or superficial bleeding, can be stressful to say the least.
Therefore, you should definitely know if you will be able to bring your EpiPen on a plane, and what the rules and regulations are surrounding flying with an EpiPen.
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What the TSA Say About EpiPens
According to TSA regulations, you are allowed to bring an EpiPen in both your carry on and checked bags.
The TSA have a rule that they call the 3-1-1 rule that prevents passengers from bringing any liquids that exceed 3.4oz/100ml through airport security in their carry on, but as an EpiPen is considered “medically necessary”, this does not apply.
EpiPens and Airport Security
The TSA recommend that before going through airport security, you should declare your EpiPen to one of the officers for inspection, though medical documentation or labeling is not required.
You will also be required to remove the EpiPen from your bag and place it in a separate bin for X-ray screening.
While the research is scarce, there is no available evidence to suggest that the airport’s X-ray machine will have a negative effect on your EpiPen, as the radiation emitted is tiny.
Flying Internationally With an EpiPen
Regardless if you’re flying from the U.S. to another country, back to the U.S., or between any other countries, the same rules will apply.
So, you will have no problem bringing an EpiPen on a plane in either your carry on or checked bags, though you will likely have to remove it from your carry on, inform an airport security officer, and place the EpiPen in a separate tray for screening.
Airlines Carry Epipens
Since 2003, the FAA has required airlines to carry epinephrine onboard in their medical kits.
However, there is no guarantee that the airline you will be flying with will also have the autoinjector onboard. They may just carry syringes instead.
Even worse is that none of the flight attendants may be trained in how to fill the syringe and administer the life-saving epinephrine.
This can clearly pose a problem if the worst comes to the worst, and you need to use your EpiPen.
While at least one other passenger will usually have brought their EpiPen on the plane, there is no guarantee that this is the case.
So you should really try to remember to try and bring your EpiPen with you when flying.
How to Stay Safe When Flying With a Food Allergy
Whether you are on the plane or at your destination, there are a few things you should keep in mind to prevent the worst from happening.
- Inform the airline about any allergies at the airport counter and as soon as you step on board the plane.
- Research restaurants at your destination in advance, so it’s easy to locate your safe food options.
- Bring safe food with you just in case your food options will be limited, which can often happen when traveling internationally.
- Learn how to say “I am allergic to…” in the language of the country you are traveling to. It can also be a good idea to bring a written card with this phrase translated.
- If you are traveling with others, make sure you let them know of any allergies you might have, as well as where you keep your epinephrine.
- Carry sanitizing wipes, so you can wipe down areas that you might come in contact with.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).