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Keeping insulin cool on a long flight

My husband and I will be flying to Ireland soon. What works well in keeping insulin cool on the long flight and also passes TSA guidelines?

Posted by
9106 posts

The flight attendants will store the insulin in one of the planes' refrigerators. You shouldn't have a problem with the TSA as you are allowed to carry-on prescription medication.

Posted by
75 posts

You might want to read and print out to take w/you to the airport the following TSA memo. It specifically mentions gel packs for diabetics as being okay. In addition, I remember in the dark days when the gel ban started that some passengers had, please don't laugh, frozen bags of peas that worked well. Don't let a manageable health problem stop you from having a great trip. Happy travels.

Posted by
508 posts

I have some medications (not insulin) that needed to be kept cool on a recent trip. With a note from my doctor, I was able to carry on my medication and a few gel ice packs in a ziplock bag. As soon as I went through security, I put it back in a small collapsable cooler.

You shouldn't have any problem in Europe either - I didn't have any problems last August with liquid medications in their original containers (along with a letter from my doctor and the prescriptions) in San Francisco, London Heathrow (twice) and Pisa airports even though no liquids were allowed at all. I just declared them to the screeners and handed them ziplock and letter. They didn't even read the letter or the prescriptions at any of the security checkpoints.

Posted by
192 posts

Debbie, go to the website for the American Diabetes Ass'n and check out the "Frio" thingy they have.
I just got one for my Byetta shots and it works great! It's a pouch thing (comes in different sizes) that has little crystals inside it. You put the thing in a pan of very cold water for about 8-10 min. and the crystals puff up and become gel. The gel lasts, and is cold enough, for about 72 hours. When you are finished using it (like when you get someplace that has a fridge), you just let it sit and the gel magically turns back into crystals after a day or so. If you are NOT finished with it, you just put it in cold water again, for a little less time, and the crystals get all gelly again.
This little hummer can be used over and over again, and you can get a 'liner' also. I put my Byetta shot-pen into the liner, then the whole thing in the gel pouch, then all of that into the 'carrying pouch', and the whole thing was still only 4" x 8" or so. They make them for insulin also.

Posted by
80 posts

My husband is a diabetic and we fly all of the time and never have a problem with his insulin. We have a freezer pack that we keep it in and security has never even asked to look at it. If you have a diabetic tag or card I would take it, but the insulin won't be a problem. We usually keep the whole pack in the fridge in the galley of the place when we get on for the longer flights and the flight attendants will even freeze the cool pack during the flight if you ask them to.


Posted by
204 posts

I have found from previous experience as a pharmacist that it is useless to tell patients this but: Insulin does not require refrigeration. It did once some years ago but not now. It will last for 30 days after opening with no problem. You should avoid extremely high or low temperatures but normal room temp is fine. Ask you pharmacists and read the label.

Posted by
204 posts

I should have added: You can buy the same insulin in Europe as you use in the US. I know it surprises most Americans but Europe is quite modern.