For the most part, air travel involves dealing with one hassle after another. From getting to and from the airport, to dealing with unruly or unreasonable fellow passengers on your flight, it tends not to be a very pleasant experience.
But there are things you can do to make at least some parts of the process a little bit smoother. This includes knowing what to do when bringing your prescription medication through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints. Here’s what to keep in mind when packing and traveling.
How to travel with prescription medication in your carry-on
Not only is it possible to travel with prescription medication in your carry-on bag, it’s recommended (just in case you need immediate access). In fact, TSA regulations indicate that travelers are permitted to bring their medication in pill or solid form “in unlimited amounts” as long as it is screened. (We’ll get to liquids in a minute.) And unless you are traveling with liquid medication, you are under no obligation to tell (or show) a TSA officer that you have prescriptions in your carry-on.
Like everything else in your carry-on, prescription medication is screened using an X-ray. But in the event that you don’t want your medicine X-rayed, you can request a visual inspection—just remember to do so before your bag does into the tunnel.
How to travel with liquid medication
If your prescription medication in liquid form, you are allowed to bring it with you in a carry-on bag—even if it’s in excess of the 3.4 ounces typically permitted (and as long as it’s a “reasonable quantity”). The same rules apply to nitroglycerin spray. Also, you don’t have to put liquid prescriptions in a zip-top bag.
The major difference is that you do have to let the TSA officer know that you’re traveling with a liquid prescription medication at the beginning of the screening process. Also keep in mind that the liquid medicine will be subject to additional screening—including asking you to open the container.
Do prescriptions need to be in their original bottles?
While TSA itself doesn’t require passengers to travel with their prescription medications in their original bottles, certain states do. Be sure to check the rules of any states you’re traveling in or out of, or through, and take the steps necessary to comply.
But regulations aside, clinical pharmacist Danielle Tawiah, PharmD, recommends keeping any prescriptions in the bottle they came in when traveling.
“[The original container] has the pill description, quantity, date filled, your address and full name on it, so it will be known that it isn’t fake,” Tawiah told The Points Guy. “Also, if you keep medications in a pillbox or medication keychain, it would be better to fill the box once you reach your destination to be easily identified.”