Airline Rules About EpiPens on Planes

By Jodi Thornton O'Connell

What do I need to do to bring my EpiPenĀ® on a plane?

Airline Rules About EpiPens on Planes

Having a severe allergy that can trigger a life-threatening reaction can make the thought of traveling a daunting one. While you can do your best to keep away from trigger allergens, a plane's enclosed atmosphere increases your odds of being exposed to them. Bringing an EpiPen can be a lifesaver, literally. Follow these tips to breathe easy as you pass through security and relax on your flight.

TSA rules for EpiPens and inhalers

Liquid medications such as those in your EpiPen or inhaler are exempt from TSA's 3-1-1 liquids rule. You don't have to limit quantities to 3.4 ounces or put the EpiPen in a plastic bag with your other liquids. Inform the TSA security officer that you have the medications and produce them for examination. If you have multiple medicines, putting them together in a plastic bag or other satchel can help you avoid overlooking anything when it comes time to produce your meds at the screening area.

Forms for carrying an EpiPen

TSA doesn't require you to produce a form saying that your EpiPen is medically necessary. Inform the TSA officer that you are carrying the pen as a medically necessary liquid. A note is a good idea, but not required, when your minor child is traveling alone. A doctor's letter stating your child's name, age, gender, specific allergens and any other medications needed should an allergic reaction occur can save precious lifesaving moments.

Avoiding anaphylaxis

Besides having your EpiPen, inhaler and medications ready in the event of an allergic reaction on the plane, there are other things you can do to reduce your risk.

  • Consult your healthcare professional about your risks during travel and any precautions you can take.
  • When booking tickets, ask about foods and snacks that the airline serves on each flight. Foods such as peanuts can trigger a reaction even if someone else is eating them.
  • Bring your own food. Dry snacks, fresh fruit, meats and other foods are perfectly acceptable to carry on. Non-solid foods such as yogurt and sauces must conform to TSA's 3-1-1 rule. 
  • Inform airline staff. Speak up at the gate and let your flight attendant know about your severe allergy. They might be able to head off a potential problem by changing your seating or asking passengers around you to refrain from eating your trigger foods.
  • Keep your EpiPen, inhaler and emergency medicine on your person, not in the overhead compartment. Every moment counts when anaphylaxis begins.
  • Before you go, know the location of a hospital and allergist at your destination.

About the Author

Indulging her passion for vacation vagary through the written word on a full-time basis since 2010, travel funster Jodi Thornton-O'Connell guides readers to the unexpected, quirky, and awe-inspiring.