How to Get Through Airport Security When You Travel with CPAP Machines

Travel Tips When Flying or Traveling with CPAP

Getting through airport security with CPAP can be easier if you know what to do with some simple travel tips
Getting through airport security with CPAP can be easier if you know what to do with some simple travel tips. Getty Images

If you have sleep apnea treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), you may wonder how to get through airport security when you travel with CPAP away from home. It is important that you use your CPAP every night, even when away on business or vacation, and a few simple steps should make getting through security a breeze. Discover some helpful tips to travel with CPAP machines.

Travel Tips When Flying or Traveling with CPAP

First, do not check your CPAP machine as baggage.

It is important that it not become damaged during transit, and the only way to ensure this is to keep it with you as a carry-on bag. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), medical devices such as CPAP are not counted as one of your carry-on or personal items, so you should not be worried about carrying it with you. It is still an extra bag to carry, however, so factor this into your plans as you want to be sure you will be able to comfortably carry it. It can be placed in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.

As you pass through the airport security checkpoint, you will likely need to remove the CPAP from its case, and it may be subject to examination, including a swab for explosives or x-ray screening. These are unlikely to harm the device. At some airports, the CPAP is required to be placed in a plastic bin for screening. Often it may remain in the bag and just be placed on the screening belt.

Most security screeners are likely to be familiar with CPAP and similar medical devices. However, if you are traveling to a part of the world that may be less familiar with them, you may wish to carry a letter from your doctor briefly explaining its purpose and your medical need. This is generally unnecessary.

Using CPAP While Away from Home

Once you arrive at your destination, you want to ensure that you can comfortably use your CPAP machine. There are a few other things to keep in mind while you are traveling:

  • Extension Cord: It may be helpful to bring an extension cord as outlets may not be near the bed, especially in older hotels.
  • Distilled Water: It is recommended that you continue to use distilled water in the humidifier, but tap water is safe in most regions. If you are uncertain, err on the side of caution.
  • Power Adapters: Modern CPAP machines have an internal voltage converter, but you may still require an outlet adapter if you are traveling abroad.
  • Extra Parts: Depending on the length of your trip, you may want to have an extra supply of important components, including your mask, tubing, and filters. If last-minute replacement is needed, you may want to have the phone number for your equipment provider.

These travel tips will allow a quick passage through security and a healthy and restful trip wherever your journey takes you.

If you have any further questions or concerns, speak with your sleep doctor for additional advice. Don't leave your CPAP at home, you want to rest just as well on your trip, and it is possible to travel with ease.


Department of Transportation, "Fact Sheet: Steps Taken to Ensure New Security Requirements Preserve and Respect the Civil Rights of People with Disabilities." Washington, D.C.

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