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HELP! Are gel packs ok if they're for PAIN?

2 posts
HELP! Are gel packs ok if they're for PAIN?

Need advice asap, my flight is tomorrow ... May 4. I have horrible nerve pain in my feet, and typically need to apply frozen gel packs that wrap around them with velcro straps about every 2 hours so I can walk. (I'm traveling specifically to get into a clinical trial for my pain). They're the kind of gel packs that are sold specifically for pain, etc. Will these be allowed through security? There's no way they will be completely frozen when I go through - they never completely freeze anyway. I'm just desperate about how to ice my feet both on the plane, and in the airport where I have to change plans. I'm flying on United.

Thank you!

Detroit, MI
Destination Expert
for Detroit, Travel Gadgets and Gear
Level Contributor
6,202 posts
1. Re: HELP! Are gel packs ok if they're for PAIN?

Medically necessary liquids/gels are supposed to be allowed, so they should let them through - but you can never tell with the TSA. Allow plenty of time for security and escalation to a supervisor if necessary.

Could you use refillable water-ice bags instead? That way you could take them through the checkpoint empty and fill them up airside at McDonald's etc. There will also be ice on the plane and at your connection point if they melt too quickly.

Level Contributor
14,500 posts
16 reviews
2. Re: HELP! Are gel packs ok if they're for PAIN?

You might try calling the TSA Cares line at 1-855-787-2227. They have an email, but I emailed them about my mother's hip replacement a couple of weeks ago and they have yet to answer.

I suppose they could fall into the category of medically necessary liquids/gels in which case they'd be allowed.


Personally, I would also get a couple of the ice bags that you can put actual ice in and take those too. You shoudl be able to get ice from the flight attendants I think. How long is your flight? Often you can get ice from a restaurant that's airside as well. (I'd also take some ziploc bags as the one I have gets wet after you use it for awhile.)

I don't know how you'd get the ones that go in the freezer cold again on the flight anyway.

ETA: One thing I've done for food is take frozen vegetables (I like peas as they're the most malleable) and use them to keep food cold. I don't know why they wouldn't work for your feet, and even thawed they're a solid.

Edited: 3:04 pm, May 03, 2013
Destination Expert
for Livigno, Lombardy
Level Contributor
39,474 posts
192 reviews
3. Re: HELP! Are gel packs ok if they're for PAIN?

I agree with the others take along empty ice bags and get the flight attendants to fill them with ice for you, this would be your best option because I think it will depend who you find at security if they let you through or not.

se reg.
Level Contributor
45 posts
4. Re: HELP! Are gel packs ok if they're for PAIN?

A prescription or note from the doctor might help, along with a print-out of the TSA language on medically-necessary items.

London, United...
Level Contributor
25,626 posts
28 reviews
5. Re: HELP! Are gel packs ok if they're for PAIN?

I'm a bit bemused by the refreezing elememt also. However if they are required, your doctors note or prescription would enable them to go through.

2 posts
6. Re: HELP! Are gel packs ok if they're for PAIN?

As I was packing, I had the exact same idea as you suggest here :) Yes, I packed several zip-lock baggies, then asked the flight attendants as I boarded the plane to fill them up 1/2 way. They were really nice about it. Then I just iced my feet on the flights. My seat-mates probably wondered about it, but oh well! Thank goodness they were fairly short flights, so I didn't need to ask for more ice.

Anyway, so I was able to survive my long day of traveling, although I did need to hitch wheelchair rides in order to make quick connections. Glad I had cash on hand to tip the wheelchair helpers.

Thanks so much for your response!


7. Re: HELP! Are gel packs ok if they're for PAIN?

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