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What to do with medication when taking the plane?

Published on October 21, 2014 at 14:41 / Updated on July 26, 2019 at 14:30

The terrorism threats on planes travelling to the United States have caused travellers many a headache. New safety measures were implemented in our own airports, including banning all gels, liquids and aerosols in carry-on baggage. What about medication that comes in these forms and is essential during the flight? Where should we pack them?

According to airport authorities, the terms liquids and gels refer to beverages, shampoos, sunscreen, creams, toothpaste, hair gels and any other product of similar consistency. As for aerosols, the category includes insect repellents, hairsprays and deodorants, among other items. These products must all be placed in checked luggage (i.e. those placed in the baggage hold) for all flights departing from Canadian airports.

There are exceptions to this new rule, however. Baby formula, breast milk and baby food in small containers are allowed if traveling with a baby or child under two years of age. Prescription medicine is allowed in carry-on bags if they have a drugstore prescription label issued to the same name shown on the passenger’s ticket and boarding pass, as are essential medicines sold without a prescription, but not exceeding 120ml (4oz) per container. Diabetic passengers can carry their insulin and their syringes or insulin pens as well as liquids/gels not exceeding 148ml (5oz) per container.

It is therefore recommended to keep all prescription medication in carry-on baggage, but they must be in their original containers and labelled correctly (printed label with the name of the medicine or manufacturer, or a drugstore label). As for over-the-counter medication, you could ask your pharmacist to enter it in your file and to print a drugstore label with the treatment dosage. In the case of syringes and hypodermic needles, they must be used for medical use only, the needle guards still in place and accompanied by the corresponding labelled medication.

It is also wise to bring a list of all the medication you take, including the commercial and generic name of the product as well as the dose and dosage schedule. Keep the list separate from your medication, so if you ever lose your bag, you will at least know what medication you need and can get a temporary refill during your trip. Also bring a little more medication than you need for the duration of your trip. If ever you miss a connecting flight or are delayed for any reason, you will not be caught empty-handed.

These rules can of course change as events progress. The best and fastest way to get an updated list of articles that you can or cannot bring in your carry-on baggage is to visit the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) website listed below or call 1-888-294-2202.

Have a great trip!

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