August 10, 2021
August 10, 2021

Flying With a CPAP Machine

"Is it possible to fly with a CPAP machine?"

"How can I do air travel with my CPAP machine?"

These are some of the most common questions that bother every sleep apnea patient. Living with obstructive sleep apnea is in no way a piece of cake. Add traveling into the mix, and it becomes even more challenging to manage your symptoms and stay comfortable.

When you frequently travel by air due to work-related or other reasons, carrying your CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines with you becomes quite a concern. But it shouldn't be! Almost every airline permits passengers to take their CPAP machines on a flight with them. All they have to do is bring their machines through security and follow some simple rules. So flying with a CPAP machine has become easier than ever today.

Are you planning to fly with your CPAP device and are looking for some helpful tips to make it easier for you? If yes, then this article is just what you need.

Today, we're going to give you eight helpful travel tips that will make boarding a flight with your CPAP device a breeze.

So, let's begin!

CPAP Air Travel: 8 Tips to Have a Happy Flying Experience

Modern-day CPAP machines are highly durable and lightweight. So it's easy to carry them with you on a plane. Here are some tips that you should follow to ensure a smooth flying experience with your CPAP device.  

1. Never check your CPAP machine as a baggage

While checking if your CPAP machine as baggage is allowed, you should always carry it with you on the plane as carry-on luggage. The reason being, when you check it as luggage, there are chances of it getting lost or damaged in transit. So it's safer to bring it to the flight.

As per the Americans with Disabilities Act, medical devices like CPAP machines are not counted towards your carry-on bag quota, so you can easily carry your CPAP machine and CPAP supplies with you on the plane without any hassle. In fact, the Department of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) encourages passengers to do the same.

2. Put your machine in a sterile plastic bag before dropping it in the security bin

Your CPAP machine will be thoroughly screened at the airport security checkpoints at the airport. For that, you'd need to take it out from its carrying case and put it in an x-ray bin so they can swab it. You can keep the CPAP mask and other CPAP equipment in the travel bag as only the machine will be x-rayed.

Though these bins are clean, they are not exactly sterile. So if you are worried about their cleanliness, you can put your machine in a sterile clear plastic bag before placing it in the x-ray bin.

3. Ensure the availability of an at-seat power outlet

If your CPAP machine runs on electricity and you plan on sleeping during your journey, it is crucial to ensure that your flight seat has a power outlet. It is important to know where these outlets are located to see if you need to bring an extension cord or not. This is important because otherwise, you'd have to sleep without the CPAP device. And that is definitely not recommended, especially when you are flying thousands of feet above the ground.

The presence of at-seat power depends upon particular airline and plane models. For example, certain planes provide household power (110 or 240 AC volts) at personal seats, while others have a five-volt DC power. So it's best to contact your airline and get all the necessary information in advance.  It is also recommended to check the power supply of your machine as well.

4. Always keep your doctor's prescription handy

It is not mandatory to carry the prescription for the machine. However, in certain rare events, a TSA agent might need an additional confirmation for your equipment, and if you don't have one, they may argue that you're using the machine unlawfully.

Moreover, if your CPAP device breaks down, you'll need the prescription to get an emergency replacement or extra supplies. So it is a good practice to keep your doctor's prescription handy because you can never know when an emergency could arise.

5. Put a "Medical Equipment" luggage tag on your CPAP machine

TSA agents at the airport are quite familiar with medical devices like a CPAP machine, so they know exactly how to handle it. But it's better to label your device with a "medical equipment" tag for an added layer of safety.

6. Always carry backup batteries and adapter with you

Carrying extra battery packs as a backup is extremely useful when you have a long-duration flight where you'll need to use your CPAP machine. If your flight seat doesn't have a power outlet, having extra batteries with you will prove to be extremely beneficial to continue your CPAP therapy.

Also, always take your adapter wherever you go, especially if you are traveling overseas. This is because you can never be sure if your flight or hotel rooms would be equipped with the exact type of power outlets your machine requires.

7. Carry distilled water

Using distilled water is always recommended for your CPAP machine. It helps in its proper functioning and increases the longevity of the machine. So even when you are traveling, try to carry bottles of distilled water with you.

You can bring 3.4 oz of distilled water inside the plane as a carry-on item. And there is no limit to the amount of distilled water you can carry in your checked-in luggage. So avoid filling your machine's humidifier with tap water or bottled water at the airport because carrying distilled water is totally allowed.

8. Check with your airline regarding their CPAP usage rules

Finally, if you have any other doubts or questions, never hesitate to contact your airline and get answers to all your queries. It should also be noted that different airlines have different policies for CPAP usage in flights.

Certain airlines require you to submit a minimum of 48 hours' notice regarding the use of CPAP machines inside the aircraft. This helps them to verify that your device's model meets the standards and regulations of the FAA.

Some airlines also need you to put a label on your CPAP device indicating that it is approved for inflight usage and meets the FAA regulations of safety.. So it's better to confirm your airline's policies well in advance. This will help you get the necessary things done on time and save yourself from the last-minute hassle.

Final Words

So these were all the essential tips that you should follow while flying with your CPAP machine. Today, it has become almost as easy to fly with a CPAP machine as it is to fly without it. So don't let your worries or doubts about traveling with your medical device get in the way of your therapy.

Carry your machine to your flights without a single worry, have a nice and relaxing sleep, and just enjoy your journey. Following our tips and being aware of the airport and your airline's rules is all you need to have a smooth traveling experience.

We hope you found this article helpful and would use our tips the next time you fly with your CPAP machine.  

Written by Karina Lima

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