Last Updated on February 20, 2022
Taking an asthma inhaler on a plane is a simple process.
You can bring inhalers on airplanes but they must be inspected as part of the security clearance process for medicine.
This means that there are some special instructions that you should follow when flying with inhalers.
Let’s take a look at them.
TSA Inhaler Rules
The Transportation Security Administration is the team of people that screen luggage.
This is a screengrab from their website about inhalers:
Firstly, you can pack asthma inhalers in checked luggage. However, this is usually not advisable in case you need access to the inhaler during the flight.
Checked bags can also occasionally be lost so it usually makes sense to bring asthma inhalers in hand luggage.
Asthma inhalers fall under the general TSA rules for medications. Asthma inhalers are not considered to be aerosols.
Metered-dose inhalers, dry powder inhalers, and nebulizers are all permitted to be taken on planes.
The best place to pack an asthma inhaler is in your carry-on bag or in your personal item bag like a purse. Your inhaler should be with you somewhere in your hand luggage in case you need it.
The most common asthma inhaler is the metered dose inhaler which looks like this:
While these inhalers put out a fixed dose of mist there is liquid inside the metal canister.
The TSA wants to be aware of and check all liquids being brought on to planes. This is because flammable liquids could be used by bad guys the do bad things on flights, it’s why you can’t freely bring liquids on the plane.
So, for the safety of passengers, the TSA screens all liquids to make sure they are harmless.
Usually, liquids are limited to bottles and containers under 3.4 oz and must be packed in 1 plastic quart-sized toiletries bag. This category includes your shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste, sun cream, and so on.
Liquid medications such as inhalers are not included in the 3-1-1 liquids rule. Medical liquids don’t need to be smaller than 3.4 ounces.
But the TSA still wants to be able to inspect your inhaler because it is a liquid. They want to make sure your inhaler is REALLY an inhaler and not something more sinister.
When bringing an inhaler in carry-on luggage you must remove it from your bag at the security checkpoint and place it in a bin for further screening.
The TSA, Inhalers & The Twittersphere
Often when researching posts I find some valuable information on Twitter.
Bringing inhalers on airplanes was no different.
Alexis asked the TSA if her inhaler was required to have a prescription label on it:
The TSA gave her the usual advice about removing the inhaler from her bag for screening at the security checkpoint and reassured her that her inhaler didn’t need to have a prescription label on it to take it on a plane.
Marissa wanted to know if asthma inhalers were considered to be aerosols and if they needed to be in her toiletries bag:
Inhalers don’t fall under the aerosols rules. They are treated as medicine and you don’t need to put them in your quart bag.
Sami asked the TSA if she needed a doctors note to bring her inhalers on a flight:
The TSA Twitter team reassured her that you don’t need a doctor’s note to take an inhaler on an airplane.
Jake wasn’t happy with the TSA because he lost inhalers:
This can be the problem with checked luggage. With checked luggage, you are not present at the screening of your luggage. For carry-on luggage, the TSA would never simply throw out anything they would discuss it with you and you could explain why and how you needed the inhalers.
Never pack your inhalers in checked luggage even if they are spares.
The TSA is in the business of stopping the bad guys from doing bad things on airplanes.
The screening process is searching for flammable liquids and things that could be used as weapons.
They have no desire to see anyone parted from their medicine. You should be able to take any medicine or medical equipment with you when you fly.
So it doesn’t matter if you have albuterol, ventalin, an epi pen, ephedrine, or primatene. It doesn’t matter if it’s a rescue inhaler or a preventative maintenance inhaler you can bring it on a plane.
You just need to remove it from your carry-on and show it to the TSA officers so they can check it is what it says it is.
You don’t need a doctor’s note, and you don’t need to label the medicine. Although if possible it’s probably sensible to bring these things if you can.
Hopefully, this post has cleared up any questions you had about flying with asthma inhalers.