Carry-on concerns for ostomy products on flights?

Oct 13, 2022 8:55 pm

I am flying next week and am taking everything in my carry-on. Is this going to be a problem when I check in at the gate? Will the tube of paste be okay? Has anyone had trouble with our ostomy products at the check-in gate? Does the altitude of the plane cause air in the bag? Is there anything that I should be worried about?

Oct 13, 2022 9:39 pm

Hi Klancee.

I have flown numerous times with my ileostomy and nothing has ever happened to my appliance. I did, however, have a problem when I put a small pair of scissors in my carry-on. They did take them.
I do, however, worry about the body scan. Every time I go through, I am pulled aside and they pat me down and check my hands for gunpowder. Sometimes are better than others. Usually, the security guard is very nice and compassionate, but I did have one that was loud and obnoxious because she didn't know anything about my condition or what I was talking about.
I did have my PC write a note explaining that I have an ileostomy and I am under her care. They didn't seem to care because they still have to go through their routine.

I don't want to scare you, I just want you to know what is in store. I have never regretted flying with my ileostomy. Go, have a good time, and relax. Please let us know how it went.

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Oct 13, 2022 10:35 pm

Last time I put my scissors in with my liquids in a see-through zip lock bag and they let them through. Empty before getting on the plane. How long is your flight?

Oct 13, 2022 11:17 pm

Hi K,

As others have said, there should be no major issues. The cabin is pressurized, so your bag will think it's on the ground, and not at 20,000 ft. Nothing to worry about there. Unless someone opens an emergency exit door during the flight, at which point you'll have way bigger problems than your bag filling with air. Have fun!


Oct 14, 2022 4:06 am
Reply to Hairdresser

Thank you for your experience and story, each one I read gives me more information and support. I appreciate it.

Stories of Living Life to the Fullest from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
Oct 14, 2022 4:09 am
Reply to xnine

I think I will cut my flange first before I leave so I don't need scissors. Thank you. I appreciate the help and ideas, short two-hour trip.

Oct 14, 2022 4:14 am
Reply to w30bob

Thank you for the humor. This helped me and I laughed out loud. It helps a lot to be able to laugh at my own fears.

Oct 14, 2022 5:07 am

Hi Klancee, I have flown three times since my colostomy with no problem. Like you, I put all my stoma stuff and all my other medication in my flight bag. I have never been stopped by security, but I do wear an ostomy lanyard to signify that I have a stoma, which was supplied by my local airport (Manchester, UK) and also gives me free passage through the express security lane. I also wear a support belt. I follow the stoma travel advice and have a secure bag with all I need for a change at the top of my flight bag just in case. Have a nice trip. Patrick

Oct 14, 2022 6:54 am

Hello Klancee.
In the past I was a fairly frequent flyer and had very few problems with the stoma aspect. One time they took my best scissors because I forgot I had them in the carry-on luggage.
Another time they pulled me to one side and asked what it was that was showing up on the body scanner. This was probably due to my DIY base-plates seeming unusual. –Very politely, they asked if they could have a look and took me to a side room (with my permission) about six staff members were present while I showed them my device and gave them all a quick humour-filled talk on stomas, the potential problems with flying,( and stoma life in general) and the reasons we need so much gear. 
They were not so interested in the huge bag of CPAP equipment I was also toting which contained items that could easily have been concealing all sorts of illegal stuff!
Perhaps they had heard enough after my exposition on stomas.
Seriously though, most airport staff are by now well- aware of stomas and just take it all in their stride. 
The stoma ‘travelcard’ is quite a good idea if you are not like me and are not willing or able to verbally articulate about stomas. These are usually available, free of charge, through most of the major manufacturers.
Have a great trip and (to quote the song) ‘don’t worry – be happy’.
Best wishes


Homie With A Stomie NS
Oct 14, 2022 9:54 am

Get yourself the fly kit. It will save time.

Oct 14, 2022 10:44 am

Hi Klancee, me too!! Next Wed. These days most of the security people know about ostomies. Most are very good and polite. I pack a few baggies with three of everything you need for a full change and keep it in carry-on bag. Do any cutting (flange) before leaving your house. One thing I learned the hard (shitty) way was to have a backpack with a full change of clothes for emergency...just in case. I will have an egg on a muffin about two hours before the airport and not eat after that until I'm back on the ground. My flight will be a non-stop and takes from 11 to 13 hours!! Back of the plane near the bathroom is best for me...easy to get water etc in the back near the galley.

Only had one problem, ever and that happened when I was just a rookie!!!

Best of luck Magoo.

Oct 14, 2022 12:25 pm
Reply to Hairdresser

I also was pulled aside and patted down. Also, they tested my hands. They are assholes. I know it's their job.

ron in mich
Oct 14, 2022 1:49 pm

Hi Klancee, I precut my flanges and leave the scissors at home, but I put everything in a large ziplock bag and mark it "ostomy". The last time I flew, the agent checking my carry-on wouldn't even touch the ziplock. He made me pick it up and show him what's in it, including paste.

Oct 14, 2022 2:27 pm

I put all my supplies including adhesive remover spray, bottle of lubricant, scissors, drinking water all in a separate carry-on bag. I let security know as soon as I put my bag on the belt that I have medical supplies in it. They look and test items and let me keep everything without an issue. Just relax and have a fun trip.

Oct 15, 2022 7:08 am

Usually they pat you down. It should be behind a curtained area. If there is time, get the PreCheck pass so you can avoid this pat down.

Oct 15, 2022 4:12 pm

It's been awhile, but the last time I flew they asked me to step aside after going through the scanner and the TSA dude patted me down and asked me to lift my shirt. Figuring I'd have some fun with this it looked like his life was way too serious these days.........while he was looking at my bag I popped it off my barrier just on the show him what was in it, and give him a good whiff. He let out an OMG! and I thought the poor bastard was gonna lose his lunch right then and there. I had no issues after that. They didn't even take my scissors.

Sometimes you're the windshield........sometimes the bug. Being the windshield is better.



Oct 19, 2022 1:30 am


I've had my ileostomy for 11 years (next month). I've flown a lot in that time. I always pack my ostomy supplies in my carry-on because I can't afford to have them lose my luggage if I check it!

As for the way security acts, they're all different, obviously, and I don't want to scare as much as prepare you for worst-case scenarios and a tip or two. Honestly, I've had some horrible experiences with security. According to their own website (at least when this happened several years ago), they're not allowed to ask you to show them your ostomy bag. The first time I flew, they saw the bag in the full-body scanner, made me walk barefoot (they wouldn't give me my shoes or any of my possessions), to a small room where 3 female security guards interrogated me and demanded I show them my bag. They said if I didn't, they would not let me fly. Despite the fact that I had a printout of their own policies. I cried and cried, it was so embarrassing. They didn't just want me to show my ostomy, I got a full pat-down. I had just had the surgery and was still mentally adjusting.

The other times were less traumatic. If I was selected to go through a medical detector, I was passed right through (so if you're given the option, definitely take that). If I was chosen for the full-body scanner, they can see it's there so they always pat me down, sometimes run a wand over me or even swab my clothes for explosives residue. I try to stay upbeat and joke with the ladies who pat me down. I learned a long time ago: if you don't laugh, you'll cry.

As for my items, I precut everything in case they take my scissors, which luckily, they haven't. But I have a special prescription steroid foam in an aerosol can (my stoma is a problem, leaks constantly, ruins my skin, bag must be changed every day). Luckily, when I packed my supplies, I grabbed a new bottle, still in its unopened box, with the prescription label on it. Because they were giving me a hard time about letting the steroid foam onto the plane, they swabbed it and claimed it had explosives residue on the box! Of course, I was shocked and PISSED because it did NOT have explosives residue! After a supervisor checked it again, they said that I could take it because it was in a sealed box with the prescription label on it.

One other tip, you're allowed to bring a bag of medical supplies (ostomy counts) and it doesn't count as your carry-on! You get to bring it as a freebie since it's a medical necessity.

I hope I didn't scare you, just hope you can learn from my experiences and have a happy trip!


Oct 19, 2022 4:24 am

You can download and print the ostomy I.D. at this site: I have taken that with me on numerous flights and ironically have never had to show it. If I go through the walk-through scanner, there is no issue because it will not pick up an ostomy bag. The body scanner will pick up the ostomy bag, and I tell them before I walk into the scanner that I have an ostomy bag. They usually do the test for gunpowder residue, and that is about it, sometimes a slight pat down, but generally not. Great advice above to empty your bag before going through security. I usually take one change of my appliance in my carry-on and the rest in my checked luggage, but that is just me since I am very fortunate in that I do not have to change my ileostomy appliance very often at all.

Oct 19, 2022 3:03 pm

Hello! The only thing about flying is the pat-down at security. Otherwise, everything goes fine. I carry on most of my supplies in case my luggage gets lost. I leave a few days' worth in the checked bag sometimes, depending on how long a trip it is.

Have fun! You'll see that everything will go fine.

Oct 19, 2022 4:47 pm

As others have mentioned, carry all your supplies in case your checked luggage takes a detour to your destination.
I pre-cut the flanges so scissors are not an issue.

In regard to the TSA, I usually get pulled to the side for a pat down. Most workers are not even sure what an ostomy is. I also had one that was obnoxious. I guess it comes with the territory.

I haven't had any issues on the plane with the bag. I do avoid eating or drinking before the flight, but I did that before my ileostomy as my IBS always acted up on the plane.

I am sure you will do fine and hope you enjoy your trip.

Oct 19, 2022 5:53 pm
Reply to 2SelfBTru

I was scared to death the first time I flew - clutching my blue emergency bathroom card and nothing happened at all!

Oct 19, 2022 9:20 pm

You should have no problem with airport security. I fly quite a bit and always take my supplies, including blunt nose scissors, with me. Once in a while, the TSA may look at them but generally not. Make sure the tube of paste or anything else is 3 oz. or less.

Oct 20, 2022 2:30 pm
Reply to Mayoman

My flight is only 2 hours and I don't see me having any trouble, but first time I may have anxiety. Thank you.

Homie With A Stomie NS
Oct 20, 2022 11:25 pm

Happy flight. Enjoy and have fun...

Maybe this link can help: