How to carry prescription medication on flights

Updated July 20, 2017

Prescription medications are among the most important items to remember when travelling. For many, these medications are essential to daily health and well-being. When travelling by aeroplane, random security searches, restrictions on liquid quantities and the all-too-common "lost luggage" scenario can make travelling with prescription medication stressful. Fortunately, there are a few measures that you can take to avoid hassles at the security checkpoint and beyond.

Refill your prescription. While it is sometimes possible to refill a prescription while travelling or on vacation, it can be difficult. Have enough medication to last the entire trip, as well as a few extra days' worth in case of delays or other unforeseen circumstances.

Obtain a note from your doctor explaining important information about your medication needs or explaining that your prescription includes large volumes, syringes or other medical devices. Presenting this note to airport personnel can expedite the security process.

Ensure that the name on your prescription matches the name on your ID and boarding pass. If names do not match, security personnel may require an explanation, causing a delay in passing through the security checkpoint.

Place all medication in their original containers with full prescription labels.

Place liquid or gel medication in one quart-sized, resealable, clear plastic bag. Any bottles larger than 85.1gr. must be mentioned to airport security personnel along with relevant prescription information or your doctor's note.

Pack all medications, personal identification, doctor's notes and prescription information in a secure (preferably with a zipper) inside pocket of your small carry-on bag.

Follow all airport security procedures, including declaring liquid prescription medication that exceeds the 85.1gr. limit, and presenting proper identification and documentation if requested.

Keep your carry-on bag, with your prescriptions inside, with you at all times. If possible, wear a backpack or a similar bag that can be kept on your person to avoid losing your medications.

Place your carry-on bag and prescriptions in the compartments inside the plane, to ensure easy accessibility and secure travel.


Always bring your doctor's and pharmacist's phone numbers along while travelling. In case of an emergency, they can provide helpful information. Do not pack medication in a checked bag. Checked luggage may be lost, leaving you without your medication for up to several days.

Things You'll Need

  • Original medication containers
  • Personal identification
  • 1 quart-sized, resealable, clear plastic bag
  • Small purse or other bag with secure inner pockets
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About the Author

Emilie Dennington has been writing about health and communication since 2008. Her work has appeared in public service announcements as part of an urban-health campaign, as well as at the 2011 International Communication Conference. Dennington holds a Master of Arts in communication from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.