Flying With The CPAP – Best Practice Tips
Inform yourself about flying with CPAP machine guidelines! Check out about FAA Compliance Letter for your CPAP machine, print it, and keep it with the CPAP machine.
Inform yourself about airport and airlines security procedures (TSA) for medical conditions, to confirm the procedures related to CPAP machines.
Inform your airline company in advance about your CPAP equipment. If possible, add that note when you’re buying the ticket, and if not, make sure to notify them at least 48 hours in advance.
Should you check your CPAP machine as baggage? You can do that, but it is not recommendable to do so. For start, it can be lost or damaged, and that leaves you with at least one night without your CPAP therapy…more importantly, TSA does not recommend this option. Instead, they recommend that you carry your CPAP with you on an airplane (as a carry-on). Here's what TSA has to say about it in their blog article from 2011: “Our officers are very familiar with CPAP machines and see them numerous times daily”, and then go on to say: “So here is how it all goes down. The CPAP machine will need to come out of its case and be placed in a bin prior to being sent through the X-ray, but the facemask and tubing can remain in the case. We realize the X-ray bins aren’t exactly sterile, so if you like, you can place your CPAP machine in a clear plastic bag before you put it in the bin. After your CPAP machine is X-rayed, it may need to undergo an Explosive Trace Detection test where a small white swab will be run over your machine and then analyzed for trace amounts of explosives.”.
So, bring your CPAP machine in its case as a carry-on, prepare to show appropriate documentation (already packed with your machine), pack your CPAP in a transparent bag so it remains clean when put in into x-ray bin (if airport officers want to take it out, demand that they use new, sterile gloves). Use the "Medical Device" tag for your CPAP bag to make it all simpler.
According to the Department of Transportation (DOT) (and all US airline companies are not allowed to count it as a carry-on, such as American Airlines), medical devices such as CPAP are not counted as carry-on or personal items, so you should not be worried about carrying it with you.
If you are bringing distilled water in your carry-on, you can bring a maximum of 3.4 ounces. You can carry unlimited distilled water in a checked bag.
All US airlines allow the use of CPAP machine during flight (if it's FAA approved device!) since it is considered a medical device. If you’re flying an international airline company, you should make sure to inquire about this, and we recommend inquiring at least 48 hours before the flight.
A Few More Things Worth Knowing…
If you have some extra money, and you are a frequent traveler, do consider buying another smaller, portable CPAP machine for travel. They are convenient for use during travel as well… Such a good CPAP device is ResMed AirMini Portable CPAP, as it is portable and versatile, and it includes multiple therapy modes, waterless humidification, and convenient control with the AirMini app.