There a few things you can do ahead of your flight to ensure you breeze through without any issues when flying with your CPAP.
Most importantly pack your CPAP as a hand luggage item. As a CPAP machine is a medical device it cannot be classed as one of your carry-on items - even with Ryanair! Most modern CPAP's come with a carry case but if not you can purchase one to fit your device here.
This ensures it does not get lost or damaged in transit and you can continue with your treatment. If possible the TSA also recommended labelling with a medical equipment tag however this is not mandatory.
Also don't forget to pack a copy of your prescription to speed up the security process and show transparency when abroad. It also means that should you have any technical difficulties when you're away you should be able to source a replacement with ease. All online CPAP sellers must have a prescription to issue a machine.
What to expect at the airport
- Your CPAP should be in a carry case or separate bag so it doesn't count as part of your hand luggage allowance.
- Going through security it will require x-ray, to speed up the process we'd recommend you take it out of the case and into its own screening tray but do allow extra time to go through these checks.
- Mainly because CPAP's are very hard to see clearly on x-ray and different countries have slightly different processes. In the UK expect it to be x-rayed and swabbed by a security as a precaution. However it is unlikely your CPAP mask will go through this process so if you are worried put that in another clear plastic bag.
- If your machine is battery powered ensure you have enough battery to turn on if security require to see it working.
- Take any paperwork you have an email exchange with the airline if required for carry on to ensure a quick passage through the gate and label the travel case to help quick and easy identification so staff don't challenge you on the extra bag.
Airline Specific Requirements
The last but most important tip is to check with your chosen airline before travelling and especially before boarding on their policy for CPAP machines. Each airline is different and some have power options to use on board while others don't allow use at all.
Ensure you do this a week before departure as some airlines require 48 hours' notice of a CPAP machine to verify that your model of machine meets the FAA standards and regulations.
Please find below a list of the most common airlines from the UK and their guides or links:
- A medical information form must be completed and submitted at least 72 hours before flying
- You must contact reservations at least 48 hours prior to departure
- You do not need medical clearance to travel with or use a CPAP machine for sleep apnoea
- These machines can use an adaptor to plug into a laptop power point if it's available. We do recommend using a dry cell battery to operate your machine just in case the power point near your seat is not working
- The maximum power output of our laptop point is 75 watts. If your machine needs more power than this then the power point will automatically switch off.
- Portable medical devices must fit our standard cabin baggage size, 56 x 45 x 25cm
- If you need to bring several medical devices or a large piece of medical equipment, please contact our Special Assistance team at least 48 hours before your flight so that they can advise you.
- Please ensure that this does not exceed the size or weight for approved stowage of cabin baggage.
- In accordance with UAE General Civil Aviation Authority regulations, customers who wish to use their CPAP/PAP device on board, may do so without prior approval*.
Eihad AirwaysPrior medical clearance is not required.The device(s) may be carried on and used by a guest onboard an aircraft, provided that the following conditions are conformed to:
- The device should display a manufacturer's label that indicate that it has been tested to meet the applicable FAA requirements for medical portable electronic devices or otherwise accompanied by an FAA compliance letter from the manufacturer.
- The maximum weight and dimensions (length, width, height) of the device to be used by an individual must not be larger than the allowed cabin baggage limits so that it does not block the aisle way or the entryway into the row.
- The device must be used only at a seat location that does not restrict any guest's access to, or any required emergency or regular exit, or the aisle(s) in the cabin compartment; and the user is not permitted to sit in an exit row.
- If the device is powered by lithium ion battery(ies) more than 100 Watt Hour but not exceeding 160 Wh, you must send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org at least 48 hours prior to travel to obtain approval.
- CPAP machines may be carried within the cabin on a Flybe flight providing the power is disconnected so that it cannot be inadvertently switched on.
- CPAP machines are usually operated by an electric or battery power supply
- Electric CPAP machines cannot be used on board any Jetstar flights
- Battery operated CPAP machines can be used on board as long as you get medical clearance first
- You can bring your electric or battery CPAP machine as carry-on baggage without medical clearance so long as: you don't use it on board, it's within size and weight restrictions and complies with our dangerous goods requirements.
- Medical equipment such as a CPAP or Portable Dialysis machine can be carried but not used onboard.
- All continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) models can be used on board our flights
- For use during flight, your device must fit under the seat in front of you. If your device is unable to fit under the seat, you may not use it during your flight but you can still carry it on board where it will be stored in the overhead baggage compartment
- You don't need approval to use these devices on board our flights. However, we may not be able to provide inflight power supply on all your flights with us. We recommend that you use a gel or dry battery that can power the equipment for at least 150% of the flight time. For instance, if your flight is 10 hours long, please have a battery supply of 15 hours.
- CPAP machines can be taken onbaord but require technical clearance from Swiss Air
- The following details need to be provided: Name, flight, date or PNR number, Brand and exact type of the CPAP device, Use of batteries or electrical outlet to email@example.com
- 48 hours' notice as a minimum is required to use a CPAP on board, please contact their accessibility team on the link below
- Portable electronic personal ventilators, respirators and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines may be carried and used on board United flights if it can be verified by a manufacturers' label or otherwise that the units meet applicable FAA requirements.
- Please note that aircraft in-seat electrical power is available on a limited number of aircraft, and there is no guarantee that the in-seat power will be operative. Flights operated by United Express will have no in-seat power. Therefore, customers must have an ample supply of fully charged batteries plus three hours of extra battery time for the flight. In case of failure of electronic equipment or unforeseen delays, United recommends that customers travel with manually operated backup supplies.
- Unfortunately we can't provide electricity to power medical equipment on our aircraft, so your equipment will need to be battery powered. Guidelines for the use of batteries are as follows:
- Ensure you carry sufficient batteries for the duration of your flight.
- Batteries must be fitted in the device if you check it into the aircraft hold
- Spare batteries must be individually wrapped and carried in hand luggage only
- Just like personal stereos and phones, any powered medical equipment must be switched off and stowed for taxi, take off, approach and landing, and during abnormal or emergency conditions.
Last updated May 2019