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Air travel with an ostomy

Posted by newnormal, on Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:36 am

I haven't flown since I got my ileostomy. I used to love to fly, so easy and convenient. Now I am terrified. I have heard horror stories about going through TSA checkpoints with an ostomy. Knowing what it was like pre ostomy, this makes me really apprehensive. So what is like? What do I need to know? What do I need to do? I really want to get back in the air. I have an ileostomy that is high output so that can be a challenge. 

Reply by xnine, on Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:11 am There are more posts in the Collections under Travel and Ostomy.


Also take twice the supplies you need.

Reply by newnormal, on Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:59 am

Thank you xnine! I started reading some posts in the traveling & ostomy section and I am already feeling more confident. Still learning to navigate this site, so that was a big help. Should I get a note from a doctor?

Reply by xnine, on Sat Jun 15, 2019 1:38 pm

If you could get him to sign the travel certificate that should be enough or maybe he has something else.

Reply by benisthebest, on Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:15 pm

Hi guys

After I got my illeostomy, I came to the usa from algeria.

I flew from algeria to Qatar then to JFK newyork then seatac.  So noone stopped me or ask me about my stoma bag xx

 Now im living with my brother

Reply by newnormal, on Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:24 pm

Thanks benisthebest, that is reassuring. That's a long trip!


I use stoma adhesive remover spray and skin guard spray. Will they let me take those a plane?

Reply by Donleo, on Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:44 pm

I went to Florida and they were very nice. They had me touch it and swabbed my hand for guess residue of explosive. They asked also if I wanted to be checked in private. I said no not necessary. It only took a minute. Don't worry.

Reply by JMC, on Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:07 pm

I have travelled extensively world-wide on long haul flights with an ileostomy with no problems yet, body scanners no issues, once they clock the ostomy bag they just swab your hands and have had the occasional pat down (by female security staff) but nothing that made me feel uncomfortable, never been questioned about it (except in the USA by TSA and that was about 10 years ago and just a query by the guard who felt I was too young to have one!). 

On a recent flight last month to the UK via Singapore from Sydney was just waved through all security points at each airport with not a worry (even Heathrow was a breeze which surprised me being kinda full-on chaos at the best of times).

Never taken a travel certificate and never had to explain the ostomy.  I honestly believe no-one is interested in anyone but themselves (including security staff!).  When I'm travelling I don't overthink things and just go with the flow.  Even enjoy the long haul flights, what better excuse to binge-watch TV/Movies for several hours! 

If you have high output try and get an aisle seat near the toilets.  If I want to slow down output before a flight I eat a bag of potato chips or pretzels beforehand and even at 14 hour stretches usually only have to use the loo a couple of times.  I do also eat anything that is placed in front of me on the plane (I'm on holiday and I deserve it!), for me it is better to eat and drink at regular intervals, strangely enough I empty the bag less often when I do so (on or off a plane). 

Agree with xnine about doubling up on the supplies (and always put them in your cabin bag/s).  I always have double what I think I will need and have never had to use the extras, better to be prepared for any eventuality.  And they are quite light and don't add much extra weight to your bag.  I'm a light traveller anyway and only use carry on bags.  

The sprays you use should be fine in the "approved liquids" ziploc bag you need for other (less than 100 ml) toiletries, that's for international travel though, don't think it's needed for travel in your own country.  I always have stomahesive powder in my supplies and this hasn't been an issue.

Happy travels for wherever/whenever you decide to head off!


Jo :-)



Reply by aprangn, on Sun Jun 16, 2019 11:52 am

A note from your physician sometimes works.  Get TSA pre checked, its definitely worth the investment and save you lots of emberrassments when going through security.

Reply by JD90, on Tue Jun 18, 2019 1:53 pm

When I had my colostomy and traveled, TSA only made me touch it with my hand and then they checked for explosive residue.  No worries.  Not sure about the adhesive spray so to ease any questions, you could always purchase adhesive remover wipes.  That is what I used.  I even flew with irrigation equipment and had no issues.  Take some extra supplies in your carry-on just in case you need to make a change while in the air. 

Good luck.

Reply by Papi, on Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:47 pm

YA I traveled  home  from  Minnesota The Mayo clinic  they gave me a card I handed  to the agent  the pat you  scan your hands  got back on wheel  chair  an was on my way


Reply by BeezBreeze, on Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:56 pm

I flew from Georgia to Texas and back right before I got mine reversed and it wasn't bad at all. The ATL TSA pulled me aside because their monitor was showing liquid (obvi) but I just explained what it was, showed it to them, and a lady very lightly patted me down around the area and I went on my way. Nothing at all happened on the way back, tho. 

Reply by dmo101, on Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:30 am

In 2 days we are flying from Baltimore to Ft. Laurderdal Fl.  It's been 2 years since my last flight.  The full body scanner picks up the ostomy bag even if it is empty of fluids.  I was pulled out patted down and hand my hands swiped for explosives.  I printed a little blue medical card from UOA this time. I doubt it will make a difference.  Will still get the pat down.  It's better that your expecting it than the pat down being sprung on you.  Kinda sucks we have to be singled out.  But he thats the way it is today.

Reply by RissyLauren, on Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:14 am

I totally understand your hesitancy. 


For me, traveling has been a lot easier than I thought. I also heard those horror stories but thankfully never experienced them. 


I am always flagged going through the X-ray machine. After which, I immediately tell them I have an ostomy. They usually then get a female TSA member to completely pat me down (in between legs also). Sometimes they ask if I want more privacy which I never feel I need. Then, they ask me to touch my ostomy bag and they'll wipe my hands and the TSA agents to ensure there's no bomb residue, etc. Then, you're good to go.

That's been my experience at least. Hope it helps. XOXO

Reply by funnygurl, on Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:58 am

If I am pulled over for a pat down I quietly tell the person searching me that I have an ostomy.  I have always found them to be polite and cooperative.  Carry your supplies in your carry on in case your checked luggage is lost. I take double the amount of supplies I normally use.  If you are in a hot or humid climate you can go through flanges much more quicly than normal.

Reply by christielou, on Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:14 pm

Im still on vacation.  Had an 11 hour flight. TSA no questions.  I prsyed for no leaks. Those BR are so small. All went well. Travel back home soon. Hope all goes the same

Reply by dmo101, on Mon Jul 01, 2019 3:34 pm

HOME !!   I printed that little blue card and handed to the TSA agent when I stepped into the full body scanner. One airport gave me the complete pat doen n hand wipe.  The other airport just patted me twice and asked me to touch my bag.  I think the little blue card helped.

Reply by newnormal, on Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:39 am

Thank you all!!! I printed out the UOAA blue card and laminated it. 

Reply by Cylingpilot, on Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:14 pm

Get TSA Precheck. Unless you’re pulled for a random screening you won’t have to go through the imaging machine and have to explain that thing you’re hiding below your belt. Even then, simply tell them you wear an intestinal ostomy, they’ll ask to pat it and also ask if it will hurt. You’ll laugh, they’ll make you touch it outside your clothing and then swipe your hands for explosives. Not a huge deal, but Precheck will avoid all that most of the time. 

As for output, watch your intake unless you want to be emptying in a small airliner lav. I avoid the germs whenever possible. I pilot small airplanes long distances (four hours  sometimes) and as long as I’m careful i can stretch it with my foods that are solid consistency   . 


Reply by csteven, on Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:41 am

I live in Malaysia and fly frequently to under-developed countries. When I fly out of non-capital cities in under-developed countries I get inspected. Be prepared to lift your shirt in a public place. The inspectors aren't as sophisticated / trained / paid / fluent in English as in the west. I had show it when flying from Langkawi island to Kuala Lumpur (domestic flight). I'm a male. That said, the inspector was very polite, apologized, and waved me thru after I showed him. Malaysian people are very nice. 

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