Can You Carry Medications in Your Purse on Southwest Airlines?

Security guard and man at airport
Man having his bag checked at the airport. (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

As on all airlines, passengers on Southwest must conform to the regulations laid out by the Transportation Security Administration regarding what you can bring onto the plane in your carry-on baggage. You can bring most medication on board, including prescription medication. Just be sure to read the TSA's advice before setting out for the airport.

Packaging and Labels

Carry any prescription medication in its original packaging, ensuring that the containers still carry the original labels describing what’s inside. Although TSA regulations do not require original labeling, some individual states do, so using original containers avoids any potential problems on domestic flights. The State Department recommends that, if you’re flying to any of Southwest’s international destinations, you use the original packaging and carry a letter from your doctor giving the generic names of any prescription medication you’re carrying with you.

Security Check

Present your medications separately from your purse at the airport security check, advises the TSA. Staffers will have to check your medication. If you are reluctant to have it X-rayed, you can choose to have it inspected by hand and must make a statement to this effect when you arrive at the security check. As the passenger, you are responsible for handling your medication and re-packing it after the check is complete.

Liquids and Gels

Medication in liquid or gel form is exempt from the TSA’s “3-1-1” rule, meaning you can carry larger quantities onto your Southwest flight. Pack any non-medical gels and liquids into a clear, plastic, quart-sized bag as required, but keep medications separate and declare them to TSA staffers at the security check. If your medication needs to be kept cool, you can do this using frozen gel packs, but bear in mind that they’ll be scanned in the same way as liquids unless they are frozen solid when you arrive at the security gate.

Administering Medication

If you require specific equipment to administer your medication, such as needles, pumps or IV bags, you can bring them onto your Southwest flight. Bear in mind that, like the medication itself, these items must be scanned at the security check, so pack them separately from other items in your purse. If you are in any doubt about whether your medication or equipment will be permitted on your flight, contact the TSA Cares toll-free Help Line at 855-787-2227 before your departure date to speak with a member of the TSA staff.

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