By Profmed Healthcare Solutions
Traveling with a CPAP machine is necessary for any person who suffers from sleep apnea. If you do suffer from the condition, you know that you need the continuous positive airway pressure every night in order to protect your heart and your overall health. These facts should make it easier and more comfortable for you to travel with the CPAP machine.
For travel by car, bus or train, the main thing to be concerned about is that the device will become damaged. Most CPAPs come with a specially designed padded carrying case to help protect the inner workings of the device when it is being transported from one place to another.
If you do not have a carrying case, you can contact Profmed Healthcare Solutions to see what’s available for purchase. The cases are usually inexpensive and could prevent costly repairs or replacements.
CPAP Devices At Airports and Planes
When it comes to traveling with a CPAP machine by plane, there are several things you should know.
Although the airlines have limited carry-on luggage to two pieces, medical devices do not count. Airline security must allow passengers to carry CPAPs and other medical devices on board.
They cannot require you to check your medical devices as baggage. You should not check any essential medical devices, because of the risk of loss or damage.
You will still be allowed to have a carry-on bag small enough to fit under the seat or in an overhead compartment. You are also allowed a personal bag, such as a purse or briefcase small enough to be held on your lap.
From a realistic point of view, carrying your breathing device, your purse and a carry-on bag can be cumbersome. You should practice walking around with the equipment and your bags to be sure that you can handle them easily by yourself.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has specific rules about traveling with a CPAP machine. CPAPs are allowed through security checkpoints, but only after they are screened by a Travel Security Officer or TSO.
When you arrive at the security checkpoint, you will be required to remove the machine from the carrying case. Since this is a requirement, it is a good idea to find a clear plastic bag large enough to hold the device when it is out of the carrying case. The TSA allows the device to remain in the plastic bag as it passes through the X-ray machine, but they do not provide the plastic bags.
People traveling with a CPAP machine should allow a little extra time to get through the security checkpoint. In addition to the X-ray screening, the TSAs are required to perform a visual and physical inspection of the device. They are required to screen for traces of explosives.
The additional screenings will take a few extra minutes of your time. Airlines normally advise that passengers arrive 1 ½ to two hours before their scheduled time of departure. If you are traveling with a CPAP machine, you should plan to be at the airport two hours before your plane takes off, just to be on the safe side.
CPAPs are to be placed in plastic trays as they pass through the X-ray machine. People’s shoes and other personal items are placed in those same trays. The plastic bag helps to keep your device clean as it passes through, but the CSO must remove the device from the bag for the physical inspection and to test for explosives.
You can leave your CPAP breathing tube, CPAP mask and other accessories in your carrying case. So, you shouldn’t need to worry too much about those becoming dirty or damaged.
You can ask the TSA to put on a new pair of gloves before handling your device. The TSA should be aware of the rules regarding traveling with a CPAP machine, but to be extra safe, you can print out a copy of the TSA’s official rules and carry them with you.
People traveling with a CPAP machine may also need supplemental oxygen and/or an oxygen concentrator. Those items are considered “disability-related items” by the TSA. They are included on the list of items permitted through the security checkpoints.
Other related items that are allowed through security checkpoints include baby apnea monitors, respirators and diabetes supplies. Diabetes supplies are related items, because people with diabetes often suffer from sleep apnea.
The rules for traveling with a CPAP machine are published at www.tsa.gov. There is a specific page concerning CPAPs and a general page that covers travelers with disabilities and medical conditions.
Have More Questions?
The general page should cover any questions you might have about medical equipment and security screening. If your concerns are not covered completely on that page, you can contact your travel agent or the airlines.
While there has been some controversy about the screenings required by the TSA, they have attempted to address medical issues like traveling with a CPAP machine. You should not have any problems boarding your flight.