Regulations for Traveling with Needles

I keep thinking about that syringe/hypodermic needle combo under my 5 year-old’s airplane seat. The one I mentioned in a previous post. Sure, the package was still intact, but whoever used it didn’t listen to the Skybus folks when they said, “Please, hand us any trash so we can throw it out.” And they ask often–so it’s not that the opportunity wasn’t there. I was asked a couple of times if I wanted to throw out my styrofoam tea cup, but since I was in the mood for refills, it took me awhile to give it up.

One of the ways Skybus keeps its costs low is by everybody pitching in to help. If you’re a passenger, part of the courtesy is to help throw out the trash. During our flights to and from Bellingham, the crew went through the cabin several times with garbage bags asking people to pitch in by pitching out. The requests were made with smiles and reminders that one of the ways to keep costs low and the planes running on schedule is if the trash is not left behind when the passengers leave. The planes are not at the gate all that long for a detailed cleaning either. Passengers get off. Passengers get on and the plane heads out once more. It’s a smooth system for the most part–but stuff can be missed.

The syringe packaging and the vial in the seat pocket told me that the person had to have injected him or herself while still seated. The vial was a teeny, tiny thing. So was the one that I found on the floor under the seat. The flight attendant was aghast when I handed everything over and then mentioned that the crew knew a person with diabetes was on board. If people are traveling with hypodermic needles, according to the regulations, they are supposed to let the airlines know and have documentation that says they are to have it. I’ve been interested in the rules about hypodermic needles since there are rules for so many other things. There doesn’t seem to be any other rules posted for what to do with the needles once they are on board and I’ve been looking. I did come across this post about hypodermic needles on a flight to Helsinki and Qantas Airlines has more detailed information.

It would be easy for a hypodermic needle to fall out of a purse or tumble out of a backpack when it’s slid under a seat for take off or landing. And it must be hell to try to do an injection without a lot of leg room, but I sure wish the person had done a quick check before heading off the plane. Then again, it’s easy to leave stuff behind when you’re feeling bleary-eyed and rushed, and without a lot of elbow or leg room for searching for items that may have scattered.

Oh, when our hand cleaner was confiscated at security screening, I asked if I could use another dab. Not that my hands were dirty, but I hate to waste stuff. Nope, that was a little too dangerous. The TSA person said the only way I could use it again was if I passed back through security to the terminal.