Taking non-prescription meds on airplanes

Is a person likely to get hassled for bringing standard packages of non-prescription medication (e.g. aspirin, Tylenol) on an airplane, either 1) in their carry-on or 2) in checked baggage?

Or is it one of those eight million things that’s up to the discretion of the official doing the checking?

I’ve frequently seen guidelines for those travelling with prescription medication (i.e. bring your prescription) but not for non-prescription ones. And I would really prefer not to spend the first month of my vacation in a small airless room with wires clamped to my various genitals over a packet of Tylenol that someone couldn’t tell apart from crystal meth.

As long as the stuff is in its orignal bottle, you shouldn’t have any problem. And even then it would be a stretch. Unless a dog sniffs your bag or you appear to be carrying far more than you could possibly need, like a suitcase with nothing but Tylenol in it, I can’t imagine being hassled.

These guys are used to looking for illegal drugs. They’ve been doing that for a long time.

**Is a person likely to get hassled for bringing standard packages of non-prescription medication (e.g. aspirin, Tylenol) on an airplane, either 1) in their carry-on or 2) in checked baggage? **

I have all that stuff in my baggage and have never had any hassles. In fact, why should they care? You can even buy that OTC medication inside the secured areas of the airport.

I travel with a freakin’ pharmacy cause I’m like that. Right now I can say without even looking that my personal shoulder bag contains:

Alleve or generic equivalent
Immodium AD
Chromium Picolonate
Famotodine ( acid pump inhibitor )

And god knows what else. Nobody has ever said boo about the stuff, and that includes international travelling. My scrip stuff, I DO keep in the original bottle to match to my name on I.D., but that’s always kind of been a good idea anyway.

As correctly pointed out, security can hardly freak out about the variety of drugs you can buy IN THE AIRPORT just outside of security. Fly with ease, you can take any of your normal stuff. I could see security being unhappy with very very large amounts of certain over the counter stuff like Benadryl, which could be put into someone’s drink or food with negative results.


You shouldn’t have a problem with OTC meds, but if you’re really concerned by them in blister packs, the kind that have the names of the things printed on the foil backing. That should make it obvious what it is, and that it’s not been tampered with.

Here’s what the TSA prohibits in a handy pdf list.

I take several prescription and OTC medications daily. When I’m gone for more than 3 days total, I take them in their original bottles. For short trips, I take snack baggies, one for each medicine time, and dole out the pills into the baggies. Since everything is see-thru, I’ve never been challenged on it.

BTW, take any meds along in your carry-on.

Oooooh, this is interesting. From the PDF that Barbarian offered us:

There was quite the big news splash about how nobody could ever bring matches or a lighter onto an airplane again. This guideline apparently disproves that report. You can indeed travel with a book of matches onto an airplane. God knows why. But you can. Hmm. :dubious:

Having been recently hassled over my loose tea in a ziplock baggie, I would say that flying nowadays you are likely to get hassled regardless of what is or isn’t in your bags. :frowning:

I always take OTC meds on the plane, usually not in it’s original bottles. In fact on international flights i usually pop a few tylenol PM in the course of a flight (or immodium depending on how the meal i ate before leaving is treating me.

The reason they recommend taking prescription meds in your carry-on is primarily so that if your luggage is lost, you won’t have to worry about replacing the meds, and the airline is less likely to get sued if a passenger doesn’t have access to life-saving medications. OTC meds, though, can usually be replaced very easily on the other end, so it’s not as urgent if they are lost with your luggage.

The general rule of thumb is that if you need the item as soon as you get off the plane on the other end, put in in your carry-on. If you can replace it easily, or do without it for a few days, then it’s fine to check it. (This does not apply to prohibited items, obviously.)