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Airport security and diabetes technology

Not all diabetes technology can safely go through security checks at airports. Here are our tips to have a less stressful experience when travelling.
Content last reviewed and updated: 09.05.2024

A woman with type 1 diabetes going through airport security

Taking the stress out of airport security

Many UK airports are now following guidance from the Civil Aviation Authority to help people with type 1 get through airport security as quickly and easily as possible. The information below can help you make the process as smooth as possible.

Take your time

Allow at least one hour to go through security in case your luggage or type 1 tech needs to be checked.

Medical Device Awareness Card

A Medical Device Awareness Card was launched in the UK in 2019, sponsored by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Airport Operators Association (AOA).

The card provides information about insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors (CGM) for airport Security Officers and passengers.

Simply print it off from the CAA website and take it to the airport with you.

Learn more about the MDA Card in this short video:

Hidden disability lanyard

Even though it may not feel like a disability, type 1 diabetes is legally classed as a hidden disability. Many UK airports now provide lanyards for anyone with a hidden disability so that security staff are aware they may need extra help, understanding or knowledge.

Contact the airport you’re flying from to ask if they provide hidden disability lanyards and to find out how you can get one.

Medical letter

Don’t forget to get a letter from your GP or Diabetes Care Team before you travel so you can prove you have type 1 diabetes and provide details about the treatments and technology you are carrying.

How do you take diabetes technology through airport security?

You will need to take the equipment and supplies you need for the journey in your carry-on luggage, and anything that can’t be put in your hold luggage (like insulin, which can freeze in the hold, and pumps, which can be damaged by luggage scanners). This means you’ll have to take it through airport security.

Tell a security agent that you are carrying medical equipment before you put your bags through the scanner or walk through one yourself. Show them your MDA card, doctor’s letter and hidden disability lanyard (see above) if you have one.

Insulin pumps and CGMs must not be screened by x-ray or pass through security scanners, so ask staff for an alternative type of screening. You should not be asked to remove your medical device for screening.

Read more about taking tech through airport security.

How do you take insulin and insulin pens through airport security?

Make sure you are using a medically approved cool bag to take your insulin through security, otherwise security staff may not accept them.

You can take insulin pens through all the airport security scanners and detectors. Make sure you have your documents to hand in case you are asked about your insulin pen.

Vials and cartridges of insulin do not have to go in the clear plastic bag containing other liquids up to 100ml, such as toiletries. They can go through the x-ray with the rest of your luggage.

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