Getting Through Airport Security with a CPAP Machine

Preparing for Flying with a CPAP machine

Getting your CPAP for your travel

CPAP is the most efficient for treating sleep apnea and must be used every single night, including nights on vacation, traveling for business, or camping. This presents an extra challenge for most people suffering from sleep apnea.

Getting through airport security with CPAP machine and sanitizers

Even though the TSA CPAP guidelines recognize that CPAPs are necessary medical devices, it can still be difficult getting through the security line without a hassle.

Your CPAP machine doesn’t count as a carry-on device

The air CPAP machine in its carrying case should not count as carry-on luggage. You can still carry your laptop, purse, and even your roller bag without a struggle. Please check with your CPAP machine airport security for specific rules, but your CPAP does not count as an additional carry-on.

Your CPAP is already labeled as a medical device

CPAPs are clearly labeled by the developers as medical devices. For most machines, you will find this label printed on the bottom of the machine.

A specific medical equipment tag is not mandatory but may be helpful. You can buy a personalized tag or can make your own. ResMed, for example, has created a travel compliance letter for ResMed therapy machines that clearly lists their CPAP as FDA compliant.

Labeling your CPAP machine will also help if your machine is misplaced if you are flying with a CPAP machine. When someone is traveling across the US with her/his CPAP and the person sitting next to her on the plane happens to have one too, that might cause confusion. With both having the same model of CPAP and one accidentally takes the other’s off the plane, having your CPAP labeled with the company information enables one to identify the owner of the CPAP using the device serial number and arrange for its safe return.

Keep your CPAP machine safe and clean while going through the airport

Unpacking your CPAP machine for airport security Inspection

A CPAP machine ready for airport security inspection

Since you might have to take your CPAP out of its case to go through the x-ray, it’s best to put your machine, mask, and other items in separate plastic bags so they don’t come into direct contact with the airport equipment.

If, after your air CPAP machine is x-rayed, it will be hand-inspected by TSA. you can request the TSA agent to protect the cleanliness of your CPAP in the following ways:

  1. Please change your gloves before touching my CPAP machine.
  2. Please clean the table where the inspection will take place.
  3. Please change the explosive travel detection (ETD) sampling media before testing my equipment

It’s always best to make sure you plan ahead and have sufficient time in case you have delays. There’s nothing more stressful than rushing through airport security to get to your departing plane.

References and Resources