With recent headlines detailing how one traveller was forced to choose between her luggage and her medical equipment by EasyJet, some holiday goers might be left wondering what the rules and regulations are when flying with medication or medical equipment.
This is everything you need to know before you start packing your bags.
Flying with medication and medical equipment
Firstly, you’ll need to check the rules of the country you’re travelling to regarding their regulations about the types of medication they allow to be taken into the country and the maximum quantity you can take in.
International rules can vary, so you should contact the embassy for the country you’re visiting - the GOV.UK website has a full list of foreign embassies in the UK that you can check out online here.
If you’re travelling with medication, the NHS has compiled a checklist of things to think about before you set off.
Always carry your medicine and equipment (needles, syringes, etc) in their original and correctly labelled packages, and with a copy of your prescriptionPacking a spare supply of your medication in your suitcase in case you lose your hand luggageBeing aware if you need to keep your medicine at a specific temperature, and if it does, think about storing it using a thermos flask, ice pack or cool bagChecking to see if you need a personal licence to take controlled medicines abroad, which you can check via the government website here
You’ll also need to check the regulations of the airline you’re travelling with as well.
Ryanair requires a medical equipment baggage waiver letter to carry any medical equipment onboard a Ryanair flight.
The Ryanair website states, “Passengers with pre-existing medical conditions who need to carry medical equipment in addition to their checked/hand baggage allowance must contact our Special Assistance Line well in advance of travel.”
You can contact the Special Assistance line either via live chat online here or by phoning the dedicated number 02032856488.
The special assistance team will be able to determine whether or not your request can be approved.
It continues to explain that upon the provision of a doctor’s letter confirming your requirements, a medical equipment baggage waiver letter will be issued.
Items listed in the waiver letter will be accepted on the carriage free of charge. These items will need to be packed separately and be available for inspection at the airport.
“Certain items such as Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POC ) that meet regulatory requirements are approved for onboard use. Other medical equipment such as a CPAP or Portable Dialysis machine can be carried but not used onboard,” the website explains.
“Passengers are permitted to carry syringes in the aircraft cabin, if they are needed for medical reasons (for example a diabetic passenger). However, passengers should carry a doctor's letter confirming their requirements.”
The EasyJet website states, “If you’re putting medicines in your hold luggage, you must pack them separately from any other items and provide a doctor’s certificate confirming that you need them while you’re away from home.”
It goes on to explain that you are allowed to bring any medicines and medical equipment that you need to have with you, and that includes things like gel packs or cooler bags to maintain the correct temperature for your medication, food and specialist devices.
When bringing medicine on board, you must provide a doctor’s note confirming the type of medication and what it’s used for. The doctor’s certificate will also allow you to bring liquid medicines larger than 100ml through security.
The website states specifically that EasyJet are unable to refrigerate medication on board, so do ensure you have brought the necessary equipment to maintain the correct temperature required.
Portable medical devices must fit into the standard cabin baggage size, which is 56 x 45 x 25cm. If they don’t fit that size, they will need to be transported in the hold.
If you require several medical devices, or a large piece of medical equipment, contact the Special Assistance team at least 48 hours before your flight so they can advise you.
The Special Assistance team can be contacted by calling 0800 998 1130.
The Flybe website states, “Airport Security staff may require you to produce a medical certificate from your doctor or consultant, detailing the medication or medical items being carried and stating they are required for your journey.”
It goes on to say that you are permitted to carry essential medicines of more than 100ml in your hand luggage, which also includes liquid dietary foodstuffs and inhalers.
You will need to provide supporting documentation from your doctor, or a copy of your prescription - this also applies for gel packs.
“Should you need to use medical equipment during the flight please contact us so that we can advise whether the device is safe to use on board the aircraft,” the website explains.
You can also contact them at +44 (0) 207 308081. You’ll need to get in touch with the special assistance team at least 48 before travelling.
Virgin Atlantic Airways
The Virgin Atlantic Airways website says that “some” medical equipment is permitted to be brought onboard, but you’ll need to make sure that it complies with their restrictions.
For powered equipment, they are unable to provide electricity to power medical equipment, so it will need to be battery powered. Their guidelines for the use of batteries are:
Ensure you carry sufficient batteries for the duration of your flightBatteries must be fitted in the device if you check it into the aircraft holdSpare batteries must be individually wrapped and carried in hand luggage onlyJust like personal stereos and phones, any powered medical equipment must be switched off and stowed for taxi, take off, approach and landing, and during abnormal or emergency conditions
For needles and syringes, you are allowed to bring these on board for medical conditions, but you must also provide a letter from your medical practitioner confirming the kind of medication you have and what it’s for.
If you do not have this letter, the medication must have a printed pharmaceutical label that clearly identifies it as being prescribed and belonging to you.
These are the guidelines that apply to respiratory assistive devices:
It must be labelled by the manufacturer, confirming that it has been tested to meet the requirements for medical portable devices set by the UK Government or US Federal Aviation AuthorityThe device must not be too big or too heavy to be used in the cabinAny extra batteries must be packaged in accordance with UK safety regulationsYou are required to carry sufficient fully charged batteries to power the device for 150% of the maximum flight duration, to account for any delaysYou should also carry a medical certificate for the condition that requires you to use the device
Contact the Special Assistance team at least 48 hours before you travel. They can be contacted on +44 (0)344 412 4455. You should be aware that you may be asked some questions about your medical condition.
British Airways require you to complete medical clearance if you need to carry medical equipment with you on your travels.
You can download the medical clearance form online here.
You’ll need to fill out part one and then have your doctor fill out part two. Once that’s been done, you’ll have to send the completed form to the Passenger Medical Clearance Unit who will advise if you’re fit to fly.
You can contact the Passenger Medical Clearance Unit via email at [email protected]
For more information, you can contact British Airways Special Assistance team. They can be contacted by phoning 0344 493 0787
This article originally appeared on our sister site Edinburgh Evening News