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Traveling With Medication

Tuesday, August 09, 2011
medication

TSA was in the news last week after a passenger alleged we prohibited her from bringing insulin through the checkpoint at Denver International Airport (DEN). While we did search the passenger’s bag after an alarm and did not allow an oversized, unfrozen ice pack to be brought on board, (in adherence with the 3-1-1 liquid regulations) our initial review of this incident including interviews with the officers and a review of the CCTV indicates that the cooler contained a sports drink and a melted icepack, but not insulin. Because the passenger stated that she was a diabetic, she was permitted to take the sports drink through the checkpoint.

While we’re on the topic... Medication is ok to place in your carry-on or checked luggage in any form. From our web page: "All medications in any form or type (for instance, pills, injectables, or homeopathic) and associated supplies (syringes, Sharps disposal container, pre-loaded syringes, jet injectors, pens, infusers, etc.) are allowed through the security checkpoint once they have been screened. Atropens, an auto-injection system that can help treat many emergency conditions (low heart rate, breathing problems, and excess saliva related to insecticide, nerve gas or mushroom poisoning) are also allowed. We do not require that your medications be labeled." (Read More)

TSA works with over 70 disability-related groups and organizations to help us understand the concerns of persons with disabilities and medical conditions. These groups have assisted TSA with integrating the unique needs of persons with disabilities into our airport operations.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.

Comments

Submitted by Theprez98 on

Are you alleging that the passenger and her husband lied?

Submitted by Anonymous on

why doesn't "and associated supplies"
include ice or ice packs required to keep medication cool?

Submitted by John on

Shall I take the phrasing of "oversized, unfrozen ice pack" to mean that the ice pack would have been allowed through if it was frozen?

Submitted by Blogger Bob on

Anonymous said...why doesn't "and associated supplies" include ice or ice packs required to keep medication cool?

----------------

There was no medication in the bag to keep cool.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by RB on

John said...
Shall I take the phrasing of "oversized, unfrozen ice pack" to mean that the ice pack would have been allowed through if it was frozen?

August 9, 2011 7:21 PM


....or smaller than the one confiscated?

Why doesn't TSA have an unbiased agency investigate these incidents? TSA doing their own investigation does nothing since TSA is not trusted to be honest. Even the Administrator of TSA lies before Congress.

Is it appropriate for TSA to call these people liars on this taxpayer funded blog?

If an ice pack is frozen it will still thaw at some point. Is it then a danger TSA?

Submitted by RB on

Blogger Bob said...
Anonymous said...why doesn't "and associated supplies" include ice or ice packs required to keep medication cool?

----------------

There was no medication in the bag to keep cool.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

August 9, 2011 8:24 PM
...............
Nope, no drugs in the bag, not after TSA employees stole the insulin.

Submitted by Blogger Bob on

John Said: Shall I take the phrasing of "oversized, unfrozen ice pack" to mean that the ice pack would have been allowed through if it was frozen?

-------------------

Yes.

If there was medication in the bag, the ice could have been partially melted and been permitted.

With no medication, it would have to be frozen solid in order to be permitted.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on

There was no medication in the bag to keep cool.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team
____________________
In the article she said she made it through screening with a small amount of insulin in her bag that she believed the screener failed to notice. (She said that the screener confiscated the majority of her supply, which was at the top of her bag and missed a small amount at the bottom of her bag.) Was the icepack in there to keep the insulin cool?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Blogger Bob said...
With no medication, it would have to be frozen solid in order to be permitted.

Bob- once an ice pack is removed from the freezer, it immediately begins to melt. Therefore, NO ice packs will be "frozen solid"- there will be at least a little melting. (Especially after standing for hours in your checkpoint lines.)

Thus, in reality, NO ice packs are actually allowed through.

Submitted by JustSayin on

Thank you TSA for shedding light on this incident, and proving once again that all proper procedures were followed.

It's disturbing to read in the news sometimes that improper procedures may have happened.

However, there are two sides to every story. I know part of the media's job, in an effort to get more readers and viewers, is to sensationlize stories.

This is why I choose to hear both sides instead of jumping to conclusions.

Keep up the good work.

Submitted by Anonymous on
our initial review of this incident including interviews with the officers and a review of the CCTV

Really? You spoke with the people who may have done something wrong, and they DENIED it? They MUST be innocent then. Case closed.

As for your CCTV - When a citizen claims the TSA assaulted them, or handcuffed them to a bench or something, you seem to always have an excuse for why CCTV is not available. But you expect us to believe there is CCTV coverage of this particular checkpoint so good that it can spot a bottle of insulin?

Puh-lease.
Submitted by F2000 on

"With no medication, it would have to be frozen solid in order to be permitted."

So, if I freeze my 12oz bottle of shampoo, or maybe some explosives precursors, and pack them in a bag with some pills, that's totally OK?

You all really aren't doing anything vaguely sensible, are you?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Blogger Bob said ...

"If there was medication in the bag, the ice could have been partially melted and been permitted.

With no medication, it would have to be frozen solid in order to be permitted."

Do you even realize the idiocy of what you write? How is a partially melted ice pack a threat by itself, but suddenly becomes benign when accompanied by a bottle of pills or medicine?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm a little confused with what happened with her insulin. As a diabetic, I always double and triple check that my insulin is with me before leaving the house. I need insulin to live so I make sure I have it and I'm sure many other diabetics pack similarly.

Thanks Bob for clearing the ice pack and other liquid restrictions up. I now know that I can carry an ice pack with my insulin no matter if it is partially melted. Also, I can carry a sports drink (or juice, or other sugary drink) through the checkpoint in case of a low blood sugar incident.

I will print this page out to take with me the next time I fly. Hopefully that will assist me in taking ice packs and the drinks to assist with low blood sugar through the checkpoint. If it doesn't, what should I do? It sometimes seems that some of the TSA agents aren't as sensitive to medical needs as they should be.

Submitted by Russell on

Hi Bob,

I don't understand the point of this post. The TSA has apologized to the woman.

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/28773212/detail.html

Why blog about it? Why not just leave it along?

Additionally, from the TSA webpage quoted on this post; "We do not require that your medications be labeled." But the press release issued by the TSA on this incident states; "Liquid medications should be labeled,"

I'm traveling in a few weeks and I'm taking over the counter (non-liquid) meds with me. To save space, I combine them in a single small container. Do they need to be labeled or not?

Best,

Russ

Submitted by JPINFV on

Yes.

If there was medication in the bag, the ice could have been partially melted and been permitted.

With no medication, it would have to be frozen solid in order to be permitted.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

-------------------

I have to ask. Is there any evidence that a frozen liquid is any safer than an unfrozen liquid, especially since the frozen liquid tends to unfreeze over time, such as would be the case simply between the hour or so prearrivial as well as the time period during the flight?

Second question, which is based off of an observation I made a few years ago. What's stopping someone from simply making several trips through security, especially at layovers?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Show us the video Bob. If the TSA did nothing wrong then you should have no problem posting the video so we can make our own determination. You've done it before why the sudden change.

As for your medical policy, lets remember the TSA allows any TSO at any time, for any reason to deny a passenger from bringing any item past a checkpoint. Even if your policies normally allow it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob your link to the medical policy takes us to a none working page. At least check the links before you post them.

Would love to see the video, you posted them during the sippy cup incident. Why is this any different?

Submitted by RB on

Blogger Bob said...
John Said: Shall I take the phrasing of "oversized, unfrozen ice pack" to mean that the ice pack would have been allowed through if it was frozen?

-------------------

Yes.

If there was medication in the bag, the ice could have been partially melted and been permitted.

With no medication, it would have to be frozen solid in order to be permitted.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

August 9, 2011 8:28 PM
..................
Bob, the TSA.GOV web page states the following in the discussion for Travelers with Disabilities:

"Frozen items are allowed as long as they are frozen solid when presented for screening. If frozen items are partially melted, slushy, or have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they must meet 3-1-1 requirements."

This passage seems to disagree with what you posted. Can you please clarify exactly what the policy is?

Thanks.

Submitted by Anonymous on

So when do people who have to use constant-infusion pumps start getting treated like human beings?

And for goodness sakes, how about you stop asking diabetics to risk insulin comas by insisting on playing with their pumps? TSOs are NOT doctors and should NOT be allowed to manipulate pumps or therapeutic electronics (hello Seattle North!). If a passenger has a pump, let them show you how it works. Always. They know their life-support equipment better than you do, and you are muck less likely threaten their health (Hello Seattle North!).

And yes, an insulin induced coma will turn you into "vagies".

Submitted by Anonymous on

"With no medication, it would have to be frozen solid in order to be permitted."

Unless you are Britney Spears.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Blogger Bob said...
With no medication, it would have to be frozen solid in order to be permitted.

Why? This doesn't make any sense at all to me. How can a frozen ice pack be safe and a melted one be dangerous? The both contain exactly the same quantity of material. During the flight the frozen ice pack will melt and by the end of the flight it will be identical to the unfrozen ice pack.

How do you expect people to take you seriously when your policies are obviously nonsense? This is a dumb as the idea that a 6oz bottle is dangerous but two 3oz bottles are not.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"There was no medication in the bag to keep cool."

Prove it.

Submitted by Anonymous on
If there was medication in the bag, the ice could have been partially melted and been permitted.

With no medication, it would have to be frozen solid in order to be permitted.

A perfect example of the security theater that is the TSA.

What makes partially melted ice "safe"? If the passenger says it is needed to keep medication cold.

The TSA's idea of "logic"
Submitted by Anonymous on

So let me get this straight.

The TSA determined that the sports drink was "medically necessary", but also determined that the ice pack was not "medically necessary".

What training do TSO's have to determine what is and isn't "medically necessary"?

Submitted by Avxo on

Blogger Bob wrote: "If there was medication in the bag, the ice could have been partially melted and been permitted.

With no medication, it would have to be frozen solid in order to be permitted."

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the insanity that is the TSA. An icepack is allowed when it's in the same bag as medication, but not when it's in the same bag as a sandwich.

Don't get me wrong -- I believe that people who need ice for medical purposes should be able to have ice.

But this is "pixie dust" logic. The notion that the icepack somehow becomes OK based on what else you pack with it.

But it's fine, because it's not as if those who would want to sneak liquid on board could go to a doctor and get a legit prescription issued in their name... Oh... wait...

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob,
You said that since the person was a diabetic, the sports drink was allowed through as it was deemed medically neccessary. Since the sports drinlk was then classified as medical, wouldn't that mean that the ice pack was then allowed?

Submitted by Anonymous on

obviously, the insulin would not be IN the icepack. duh tsa. associated supplies includes insulin. duh tsa. and i agree, having watched admi pistole and his cronies lie before congress, why doesnt someone else investigate these allegations? because obviously, the tsa is about as bad as the communist party...

Submitted by Anonymous on

theprez98 said...
Are you alleging that the passenger and her husband lied?

YES.

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

Bob writes:
With no medication, it would have to be frozen solid in order to be permitted.

Can you provide a reference to a TSA webpage that confirms this?

The only reference I can find to bringing frozen items through a checkpoint is buried in the section dealing with medications, and I don't think it's relevant to this particular question.

Submitted by TJ on

I know a diabetic. He told me quite candidly that he could kill someone quite easily by injecting them with a full dose of insulin.

And yet, my half-full 5 ounce tube of Colgate toothpaste is a problem.

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

Bob, the passenger says there was medication. Are you saying the passenger lied?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Perhaps it would help if the CCTV images and transcripts of the interviews were made public as it appears we have two people with radically different perceptions of the events. I am not inclined to believe either at this point.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Blogger Bob said...
If there was medication in the bag, the ice could have been partially melted and been permitted.
With no medication, it would have to be frozen solid in order to be permitted.

So your assuming that terrorists are too stupid to put some medication in with the ice packs? This policy make no sense at all.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am going to guess this particular issue is very important since Blogger Bob is responding to comments and questions.

I would like to take advantage of that fact to ask you a question Blogger Bob.....

People with diabetes rely on insulin to stay alive. It is not something they joke about, they take it very seriously. Based on that premise, why would this woman lie about having her insulin removed from her bags? Why would she carry a container with ice packs if she didn't also have insulin in the container?

Are you trying to imply she was some sort of terrorist scout testing the TSA system to see if ice packs would make it through security so the bad guys can now try and send dangerous things hidden inside ice packs?

Just sayin.... I mean Just Asking.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Am I allowed to bring as much shampoo and bottled water as I want as long as it's frozen solid? What purpose does this serve?

Seriously, sit there and ask yourself, what makes a partially thawed ice pack so suspicious and one taken out of the freezer 30 minutes later not?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Let me see if I am understanding this correctly...A Type 1 diabetic (who relies on insulin to live) was not traveling with insulin. Instead, she was carrying around an oversized cooler with ice and a drink in it?? Come on.

My father is a Type 1. Your agent is lying and/or the tape has been tampered with.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Blogger Bob said...
If there was medication in the bag, the ice could have been partially melted and been permitted.

How do you determine what is or is not medicine? If I just put a small bottle of water in the bag and claim it's medicine then the melted ice is OK?

Who make up these rules? You aren't even trying to make sense.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Lets try this again.

"Blogger Bob said...
TSA works with over 70 disability-related groups and organizations to help us understand the concerns of persons with disabilities and medical conditions. These groups have assisted TSA with integrating the unique needs of persons with disabilities into our airport operations."

And yet the TSA continues to violate and humiliate persons with disabilities.

For instance the gentleman with a urostomy bag. He's had happen twice, the second time after an apology form Pistole himself.

Obviously the TSA is incapable of learning.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Dear TSA, this is your problem: The vast majority of the public believes the woman. You have no credibility.

I have been treated poorly by so many TSA agents that I've lost count. I've been screamed at -- one agent even had the audacity to call me "babe." I've missed flights at Dulles because TSA had one checkpoint open and thousands of people waiting to be screened. (While we could see dozens of TSA agents behind the glass screens standing in circles, laughing and carrying on.)

I have had items stolen and my things rummaged through and questioned about why on earth I would need so much advil for one trip. Really?

It doesn't surprise me that your agents took insulin. You sit in Washington thinking that your agents are doing a good job.

They're not.

You have a problem. A real problem. And I don't see anyone addressing the rudeness, the theft, the lack of training, the stupidity or the ignorance your employees display day in and day out.

I have two more flights to finish my work project. Then I'm no longer flying. You people need help. And I don't see it getting any better any time soon.

Submitted by RB on

"Blogger Bob said...
TSA works with over 70 disability-related groups and organizations to help us understand the concerns of persons with disabilities and medical conditions.
.................
What Blogger Bob really meant is that TSA says they work with over 70 disability related groups.

It is clear based on available evidence that TSA didn't really work with anyone.

TSA's mottoe: lie, cheat and steal.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Someone is eventually going to sue the crap out of TSA over violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. When that happens, they plaintiffs will have my full support. As a disabled person I have been closely monitoring this blog and all I see is hot air when it comes to disabilities. When I travel, there are inconsistencies about how my medical equipment is tested. Should your agents ever mess around with me, you can be assured I will take legal action both against the agents and against TSA as a whole. And yes, I do want to travel today - safely, efficiently and effectively. The latter two describe what SHOULD be the TSA process. I'm sick of the double-talk and cavalier attitude I see on this blog.

Submitted by Blogger Bob on

For all of you asking questions about frozen items, please read this post plus the updates at: http://bit.ly/pa7lXS

As far as liquids go, you are preaching to the choir about 3-1-1. I've said it more than once on this blog and I will say it again. I will be a very happy man when the day comes that TSA can pull the stopper on the 3-1-1 procedures. Don't get me wrong here, I agree that we need it until something better comes along, but I and many other TSA employees and passengers are ready to see it go away.

There are reasons why we do what we do with liquids and we've done our best to explain the reasons why to the public here on the blog, our web page, and with the media. Until something better comes along, 3-1-1 is what we'll have to use.

For those traveling with meds, if you are confused by any of this or if you have any problems, please contact a customer support manager by using Talk to TSA: http://bit.ly/oKj3Fg

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on

I will be a very happy man when the day comes that TSA can pull the stopper on the 3-1-1 procedures.
_______________
I will be a very happy citizen when the TSA goes away, period. Your rules and regulations make absolutely no sense whatsoever. TSA is invasive, offensive, ineffective, and costly to the taxpayer and flying public. It is government gone amuck and government gone seriously wrong.

In the meantime, I do empathize with Blogger Bob who has to try and justify this mess.

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

Bob ...

With all respect ... if a TSO tells me at a checkpoint that my completely frozen ice is not permitted through the checkpoint, what am I supposed to do? Show them your blog posting and wade through the 233 responses which supposedly clarify matters?

Is it really all that hard for someone at TSA to put up a simple, one screen webpage which discusses the "ice rule"?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Blogger Bob said...
There are reasons why we do what we do with liquids and we've done our best to explain the reasons why to the public here on the blog, our web page, and with the media.

Well, then I must have missed these explanations. Please, Bob, where can I find simple, clear answers to the following:

Why is one 6-ounce bottle of shampoo forbidden, but two 3-ounce bottles are allowed?

Why is a half-filled 4-ounce bottle not allowed (half of 4 is 2 ounces, well under the 3.4 ounce limit)?

Why are still-sealed cans and bottles prohibited?

Why are these liquids (which are too dangerous to take on a plane, remember!!), carelessly dumped in a trash can at the security checkpoint?

Thanks in advance.

Submitted by MarkVII on

What about contact lens solution? Is it considered a medical item or not? I need my contacts to see, and the solution to clean and sterilize them. That's why I think of it as a medical item.

However, the anecdotal evidence on the blog is that any bottle of solution over 100ml is verboten -- especially if it's Clear Care.

Can you clarify? Thanks.

Submitted by RB on

For those traveling with meds, if you are confused by any of this or if you have any problems, please contact a customer support manager by using Talk to TSA: http://bit.ly/oKj3Fg

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

August 11, 2011 5:57 PM
...................
Well I for one am confused.

I see nothing on this blog or the more official TSA.Gov pages that say partially frozen ice packs (or such) are permitted if used to cool medicine.

Please Bob, post a direct link to that passage on the official TSA.GOV webpage.

Submitted by Earl Pitts on

@BB: "There are reasons why we do what we do with liquids and we've done our best to explain the reasons why to the public here on the blog, our web page, and with the media. Until something better comes along, 3-1-1 is what we'll have to use."

Translation: We can't admit we were wrong, so we have to wait for another "solution" to this nonproblem so we don't look like complete dunces.

Earl

Submitted by Anonymous on

rb said:
"Why doesn't TSA have an unbiased agency investigate these incidents? TSA doing their own investigation does nothing since TSA is not trusted to be honest. Even the Administrator of TSA lies before Congress."

please tell cite some other govt agencies where outside independent agencies investigate small matters?

"Is it appropriate for TSA to call these people liars on this taxpayer funded blog?"

do you truly know the facts in the investigation? or because someone said that that something happened then it has to be true, like the woman who setup the tsa and made a spectical at a tsa screening area so that she could get all sorts of attention?
its interesting rb how you always assume that the tsa is guilty until proven innocent. you are constantly on here talking about the Constitution and yet you always have a unjudical bias when it comes to the tsa.

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