Air travel - additional luggage allowance for medical supplies

Category:  Managing Life / Travel


Many aircraft carriers permit passengers with type 1 diabetes to take an additional piece of hand luggage to contain their medical supplies. You may need to notify them beforehand.

When flying with type 1 diabetes it is important to keep any insulin with you in your hand baggage. Temperatures in the hold can reach below freezing which can ruin your insulin and render it unusable. Additionally, if your case were to go missing and it contained all or almost all of your diabetes supplies it could turn your jolly holiday into a bit of a nightmare before you've got any sand between your toes. It is also advisable to take rather more supplies than you may strictly need, in case of unforeseen circumstances, additional blood glucose checking requirements, insulin pump site problems, or any number of other imponderables. However, for a trip of any length, and particularly if you use an insulin pump, you can end up having quite a lot of stuff to take and your hand luggage allowance may begin to look a bit meagre.

The good news is that many carriers allow people with type 1 diabetes to take an extra piece of standard-sized hand luggage purely for their diabetes kit. Sometimes the details of this are buried pretty deep on airline websites, and you may well have to pre-register your extra luggage, but it is often worth a look.

It is also usually a good idea to take a note from your GP, clinic or DSN that confirms your need to take sharps etc with you.

Here is a list of web pages for different airlines. If you find one that isn't listed here, please let us know so that we can add it below.


British Airways

"If you need to take any essential medical equipment with you that will exceed your baggage allowance, please contact Passenger Medical Clearance Unit (PMCU) to avoid being charged at the airport."

See Medical conditions and pregnancy


See Passengers with Specific Requirements: 'Procedures and medication'. You should advise the airline at least 48 hours before departure.


"We will consider all requests to carry medical equipment without charge on a case by case basis, taking into account your individual needs... Carriage of all mobility and medical equipment will be subject to available space on the aircraft. If space is not available, the equipment will be sent on the next available flight. "

See: Medical and Special Assistance

Ryan Air

Obtain a 'Medical equipment baggage waiver letter'. Contact well in advance of travel.

@type1project: "Ryanair allow an extra bag if needed. Their 'live chat' on the website is convenient"

Thompson (now TUI)

Abby Brown: "Rang customer service before & asked about extra bag for medical stuff. They asked how much weight, I said 5kg (no idea but was same as other hand luggage allowance). All okay. Never queried."

From their website:

"If the size or weight of your medication is more than your baggage allowance, we’ll normally be able to carry it free of charge for you as hold baggage (editorial note: insulin must not be put in the aircraft hold), but you need to call our Welfare Team before you go to pre-book.

You can carry insulin and a pen injection device in your hand baggage during your flight – but you need to let us know about it when you check in. You’ll also need to show a doctor’s letter or approved Diabetic card."

See Customer Welfare - Thomson now TUI


Invisible Illness Lanyard at Airports

Additionally several major airports have begun schemes where a special lanyard can be requested (often from a help or information desk) to alert staff that the wearer has an invisible illness and may need extra support or assistance. This can help alert staff and security teams as you approach that you may need extra time or special consideration. To find out more, check the website of the airport you are flying from.

Keywords: airlines, air travel, holidays, going abroad, aircraft