Several stories have been circulating recently about people’s medications being confiscated by the TSA. In some cases, these are potentially lifesaving medications, such as nitroglycerin for heart patients or insulin for diabetics.
We’ve written in the past about TSA screeners messing with people’s medicine and medical devices, such as the case of Savannah Barry, whose $10,000 insulin pump was ruined when the TSA insisted she go through the strip-search scanner, and the woman whose insulin pump was mistaken for a handgun, and Melinda Deaton, whose feeding tube was pawed, and Michelle Dunaj, a leukemia patient with various medical tubes, which medical tubes the TSA manhandled and whose saline solution bag was punctured, and the woman who was punished with a full-body grope because she objected to her Enbrel going through the x-ray machine, which the TSA’s own regulations state shouldn’t be put through the x-ray to begin with.
These are just a few examples. There are thousands more.
We even have the FDA telling passengers they have to notify the TSA about their private prescription drugs. Think about it: you have a condition for which you take medication — a condition that’s nobody else’s business — and you’re supposed to announce it to the TSA at the checkpoint? So that the expert clerks, with their immense knowledge of medical conditions and treatments, can decide whether or not you’re allowed to take your private, personal medication with you??
Those of our readers who also follow the TSA Blog (aka Propaganda Central) and the chat forum FlyerTalk know that there has been much discussion over the past several weeks about nitroglycerin pills, which the TSA has confiscated from travelers because some screeners believe they are explosive (no, I am not making this up).
TSA Press Secretary Ross Feinstein (whose moniker at FlyerTalk is “TSAPressSec”) has said that nitroglycerin pills are allowed to be carried on board.
But if you go to the TSA’s official website and type “nitroglycerin pills” into the search box called “When I Fly, Can I Bring My…?” on the front page, here’s what comes up:
Item Not Found.
If you take out the word “pills” and just type “nitroglycerin,” you get the same result. I tried it in two different browsers, multiple times.
Here’s an entire search page called “Can I bring my…through the security checkpoint?” You’ll notice that it’s pretty useless.
Then again, you might suddenly find this, as I just did on my 5th or 6th attempt at a search:
reading came back positive for nitroglycerin. The Long Beach Airport Safety Office and the Long Beach Police Department were notified and quickly …
Iced Tea Proves to be ‘Acidic’ Download / Print Home; Contact Us; Site …
That’s right: iced tea.
If you manage to find the “Medically Necessary Liquids, Gels, and Aerosols” page, you’ll get several paragraphs’ worth of 3-ounce this and 3-ounce that, with all kinds of qualifications and exceptions (but of course, nitroglycerin tablets aren’t liquids, gels, or aerosols). Then if you find the “What to Expect If a Passenger Needs Medication” page, you learn that:
Passengers are allowed to bring medications in pill or other solid form through security screening checkpoints in unlimited amounts, as long as they are screened. TSA does not require passengers to have medications in prescription bottles, but states have individual laws regarding the labeling of prescription medication with which passengers need to comply.
So apparently you have to be up on all the laws of the states you might be passing through on your journey. If you have a connecting flight in another state, and if you’re rescreened, which sometimes happens, I guess you’re out of luck.
One of our readers found the following, but I can’t find it, and the link she sent just bounces me back to the search page:
TSA allows larger amounts of medically necessary liquids, gels, and aerosols in reasonable quantities for your trip, but you must declare them to security officers at the checkpoint for inspection.
We recommend, but do not require, that your medications be labeled to facilitate the security process.
Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns. The final decision rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane.
Final decision on whether or not you’re allowed to take medically necessary prescriptions on plane with you rests with the TSA. But of course. What could possibly go wrong?
You’ll have to try this search for yourself, dear reader, to learn that the TSA is so screwed up it can’t even provide definitive information for travelers about whether or not they can take nitroglycerin medication with them on their trips. But it will tell you that you can take liquids, gels, and aerosols if you declare them.
For further reading on this subject from FlyerTalk, here are links that do work: