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Newbie traveling with CPAP in airport for 1st time
Hello my fellow PAPers,

I just want to say for the record that I deeply appreciate all the wonderful information that everyone that posted in this thread departed to me about traveling in airports with a CPAP machine. You have given me immense amount of stuff to think about.

I'm sorry that I am posting to you in three separate posts. I wanted to make sure that I responded to everyone who posted in this thread in an effort to help me get along inside airports with my friend, my PAP machine. I haven't quite mastered the multiple quote function on the message board yet. I find I can only quote two people at a time.




(10-17-2015, 04:32 AM)49er Wrote: Hi Quip,

I didn't want it in the overhead bin.

49er, why wouldn't you want it in the overhead bin?

Quote: Just send your machine in the case through the X-Ray machine. If TSA wants you to take it out, they will tell you. I think they are so used to seeing these machines now, I doubt you will have to but obviously, I can't guarantee that.

Regarding question number 4, the airline crew can make you check a carryon bag if there is too much weight on the plane. Usually, they ask for volunteers though. But I am assuming that this wouldn't apply to pap machines since they are counted as medical devices although I haven't checked the rules. Hopefully, someone more knowledgeable than me can chime in on this.

I will send my CPAP machine through the X-Ray machine and hope that TSA won't bother me with my PAP machine too much.

In terms of question 4, quite few people said that a CPAP machine is considered to be medical equipment, so it can't be booted off of the airplane.

Quote:Just so you know, when I felt in June, it was my first time flying with my pap machine. Everything went very well so you'll do fine.

Finally, if you are flying to another country, there might be different rules about taking the pap machine on the plane so please check.

Best of luck.


49er, I really appreciate your response to my questions about traveling in the airport with my CPAP machine and support.
(10-17-2015, 12:05 PM)PaulaO2 Wrote: Yes, take it on board with you. It is safer with you. And if your luggage gets lost or if your plane is delayed or whatever, your machine is with you, not somewhere else.

Paula, I agree that it is so much safer to have my CPAP machine with me in the cabin with me. You never know what type of mishaps are going to occur with air travel nowadays. The two US airports that I fly out of mostly are known for flight delays.

Quote:Just the blower unit needs to be removed, if the humidifier is separate like the S9. If not, just take out the entire thing.

A customer service agent from Supplier #1 just taught me how to separate my blower and humidifier on my PR System One PAP machine. Another thing that I just purchased from Supplier #1 is a CPAP brief case for traveling through airports.

Quote: They scan it through like a laptop. Some airports may even take it aside and wipe it with a cloth to look for explosives. You can ask that they change gloves first but, really, I don't think there is a need. The machine is inert and they aren't sticking their fingers into the air intake.

Well, it's nice to know that TSA scans it like a computer. In your experience, how often do airports take it aside to check it for explosives? I'm glad that the TSA Officers don't stick their hands in the air portals of the CPAP machine.

Quote:No, it counts as medical equipment. Just tell them it is a CPAP and that is that. Most of them know the look of the bags now and don't even blink. Nothing else can be in the bag but medical equipment. However, if your other two bags are large, you're going to be getting dirty looks from them or other passengers. Most CPAP bags have that strap on the back that lets them be slipped over the handle of a rolling bag. And there are tags you can get to display that it is medical equipment. Some of the online suppliers have them. Or just Google "medical equipment luggage tag" or "cpap luggage tag".

I am very happy that my CPAP equipment doesn't count against two bag allowance. I have a rolling bag that I could strap on my CPAP brief case using bungie cords. One thing that I am going to get rid of is my customary medical backpack. I will simply condense down and put everything with my CPAP machine, as it's all medical in nature. The medical luggage tag is an excellent idea, Paula. That way I can also label my CPAP equipment with my business card, so if it ever goes missing . . . hopefully it gets returned to me. I'll google the medical luggage tag.

Quote:Be calm. Be polite. You travel a lot so you know how it all works. Just treat it like a laptop and all will be well. TSA has seen so many of these things now, they don't blink. So you don't blink either.

Being calm is truly the key to going through a TSA Security Check Point. I am always very polite to people who wear uniforms. I know that the more I fly with my CPAP machine and the more experience I have under my belt . . . the more comfortable I will be going into the TSA Security Check Point & Airplanes.

Quote:We do have a wiki article:

A few years ago I did a post of stuff I put in my bag. If nothing else, you will want an extension cord! Please let us know what you, a more seasoned traveler, wind up putting in yours.

Paula, both of the CPAP and travel articles that you directed to me are excellent! Thanks you so much for the great information! I feel so much more at ease now going back into my friendly airport now.

(10-17-2015, 12:48 PM)DariaVader Wrote: Don't check it. Carry it on

Carrying it onto the plane is very sound advice, DariaVader! I can imagine a CPAP machine getting destroyed in the checked baggage or lost somewhere in the airport system.

Quote:Tag it with a medical equipment tag. Most airline personnel will recognize it, but fellow passengers could object and create a ruckus (hey, things are getting weird out there, and folk have been tossed off flights for *nothing*)

Yes, I know of quite a few people who have been tossed of flights for *nothing*. I can see someone causing a ruckus about someone going over their two bag limit with a CPAP medical bag. I shall be getting a medical luggage tag for my CPAP brief case.

Quote:Put all your meds in the bag and put a printout of your meds list - in the pocket

I'm going to put my CPAP prescription that my sleep doc faxed Supplier #1 in my with my CPAP machine while traveling. Also, I shall put all of my medications along with my syringes and biohazard sharps safety travel container in with my CPAP equipment! After all, it's all medical equipment. Thank you for that recommendation: I shall also print out all medications and dosages for the TSA Officers.

Quote:Put the blower and humidifier in separate ziplocks (if they separate) I just open the bag so they are sticking out and 9 times out of 10 they leave it that way, but you get the jerk on some trips. TSA will remove it and throw it in a dirty bin faster than you can object occasionally.

Fortunately, my blower & humidifier separate and I now how have the technical ability to accomplish this feat. I recently did a major ziplock purchase for gallon & quart size bags. So, I'm set in terms of putting my blower and humidifier in zip-locks bags. What an great idea because if TSA is so inclined to put the CPAP in one of the dirty bins, then the clear ziplock bag with protect it!

Quote:Payup to TSA-Mafia and get the pay-me-$99-per-year-and-I-won't-molest-you-TSA-Prechk. Do this and leave your shoes on, your cpap and laptop bags closed and your liquids packed.

Thank you for bringing up TSA-Pre Check, DariaVader! You are so right when you say that the TSA-Mafia won't molest you during the TSA Pre-Check processing line! In my experience with the TSA Officers with the TSA Pre-Check line they treat passengers with tact and consideration. It's different from going in the regular (NON-TSA Pre-Check) where TSA put passengers through more hoops and hassles. I have had my Known Travel Number for TSA Pre-Check for the past 6-month. I simply paid TSA $99 for 5-years. I found that I was traveling so much that going through the TSA check points were stressing me out.. I'm am sure that traveling with my CPAP will be very much easier on the TSA Pre-Check side than the regular TSA side.
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(10-17-2015, 11:56 AM)Homerec130 Wrote: Another suggestion is to put you machine in a clear, gallon-size ziplock bag (but don't seal it). This is to keep it fairly clean if TSA does handle it. If TSA wants to handle the machine ask them (nicely) if they could use clean gloves as you will be breathing through it. Also, don't worry about carry water for the humidifier, you can always get it at your destination or in a pinch use tap water.

Homer, I'm curious. . .why shouldn't I seal the gallon-size ziplock bag? I would think that by totally sealing the ziplock bag, it will be very clean to be inspected by TSA. Also, in terms of water for my humidifier do you think bottled water will do the trick for my humidifier? I am staying in hotels constantly and they typically don't stock distilled water.

Quote:I also keep a copy of my script in the bag in one of the side pockets. The only other thing that goes in the bag besides my CPAP and supplies is my wife;s and my meds as well as the charger for her spinal cord stimulator. All legal under the med device provision. If I do travel on a smaller aircraft, I do advise the gate agent that I am carrying a medical device just out of common courtesy.

The only script I have is the one that my sleep doc happened to fax Supplier #1 - so I can get anything I need in term of CPAP equipment at that particular online DME. Do you think that CPAP prescription that Supplier #1 has on file counts (in terms of proof that I actually have a diagnose of Obstructive Sleep Apnea)? Advising the gate agent that I am carrying a CPAP machine is an excellent idea, Homer.

Quote:I have a tag on my bag that says it is a medical device with the exemption paragraph listed. Never had any issues traveling with it.


I think that carrying a medical luggage tag along with the exemption paragraph listed is a great idea because if anything happens o the plane or elsewhere in airport, you can quote from it. I will get my own exemption paragraph to travel with too. However, I think I will laminate exemption paragraph for long term wear.

(10-18-2015, 01:12 AM)WakeUpTime Wrote: - have prescription with you as a backup, or if your machine should break get lost or stolen

I only have a CPAP prescription that is on file at an online DME. If my CPAP machine gets lost or stolen, then do you know if a non-online DME could take that CPAP prescription from me?

Quote:- wash all washables upon arrival anyway

Smart idea. - Especially if TSA handled the CPAP machine. I stay in hotels a lot. Do you think your typical hotel bathroom soap is ok to wash out my washable CPAP equipment with?

Quote:- get a custom cpap bag and the nice med tag from that popular site (or get the words/image and get your own done)

I have a pretty neat CPAP brief case being shipped to me within about 1 week's time from Supplier #1. I examined it online and questioned the customer service agent throughly about the CPAP brief case. If I break down my PAP machine into smaller units - blower & humidifier and put all of my medical supplies in there . . .I should be able to delete at least my backpack.

Quote:- I separated the humidifier and put tiny bible wrap around it, as I know it'll get bumped and moved a lot when traveling

You know something? I would have never thought of that idea. That's a top-notch idea to surround your humidifier with tiny bubble wrap. The bubble wrap will add extra cushion for the humidifier against all the extra bumps, etc.

Quote:- major airports have been trained on them, never accept it as checked, but let them do anything they want for analysis without protest (a big medical device tag will help with their care)

That is very astute advice to allow TSA to do whatever that want to the CPAP equipment without protest. There's nothing worse than getting in an argument with a TSA Officer over how they inspect your CPAP equipment in a Security Check Point.
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Lots of good information.....Will add the following..

Every TSA station is different. It's just how it is. These guys aren't paid that much and quite frankly they are ineffective on their best day. As such you get a little different treatment depending on the airport (in the last two months I have been through four different ones on multiple occasions and each time it has been a slightly different experience). What has not been different:

1. Do not ever check your CPAP!
2. When going through the checkpoint it is very clearly marked that the bag that your CPAP is in must be opened up. Sometimes they will make a big deal about it if you don't and sometimes they won't. The last time the guy in front me had his in clear bags in his carry-on and they went Swat on his ass. Complete bag search and then lectured him. Carry it in the bag it came in and zip it open and send it through. No big deal. They are used to seeing them.
3. The whole script thing. Each to his own. Been all over the world since 2009 with mine and have never had a copy of mine with me. The machine is enough.

Enjoy your trip! This is just another thing. Nothing to concern yourself with.

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(10-18-2015, 03:38 AM)quip Wrote: [quote='Homerec130' pid='134699' dateline='1445100994']
Another suggestion is to put you machine in a clear, gallon-size ziplock bag (but don't seal it). This is to keep it fairly clean if TSA does handle it. If TSA wants to handle the machine ask them (nicely) if they could use clean gloves as you will be breathing through it. Also, don't worry about carry water for the humidifier, you can always get it at your destination or in a pinch use tap water.

Homer, I'm curious. . .why shouldn't I seal the gallon-size ziplock bag? I would think that by totally sealing the ziplock bag, it will be very clean to be inspected by TSA. Also, in terms of water for my humidifier do you think bottled water will do the trick for my humidifier? I am staying in hotels constantly and they typically don't stock distilled water.


The reason I don't seal the bag all the way is stop condensation. I will close it most of the way, but still allow air to escape.More than once or twice I have seen condensation in a bag especially when traveling to and from an area with high humidity. I flew for Uncle Sam for over 20 years plus as a contractor and always used that method. The only time I would have a sealed bag was when it was vacuum sealed.

Bottled water should work when you are on the road. One of the arguments for distilled is there are less impurities in the water which can cake around the base plate of a heated humidifier. Short periods of time using bottled water (or even most hotel tap water) won't do any damage. If you do get a buildup you can either use a little bit of vinegar when you clean the tank or if your insurance provides one, replace the tank.

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I've never had so much as a peep from TSA/the airline when taking on my CPAP bag, but I only travel with one other bag.
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Hi Quip,

I don't want my machine in the overhead bin because I understand it can get jostled around and even if the risk is small, why take it if I can simply place the machine in the bag underneath the seat in front of me. As long it fits under the seat which mine definitely did, there shouldn't be a problem.
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Remember, for the CPAP bag to count as a medical bag and be exempt from any bag limit an airline has, the only thing that can be in it is medical supplies. It can be other than CPAP stuff, but it has to just be medical supplies.

You say you do not have the prescription? Well, get it. Not just for this, but for your own records. While you are at it, get a copy of your sleep study, too.

As for how often mine has be wiped down, it used to get it every time but they've gotten relaxed over the years. Now it seems to really depend on the airport. Charlotte is super paranoid and constantly looking for easter eggs. They even use a mirror under my wheelchair! And it has just inches of clearance! Portland OR just wanted the case opened as far as possible. Didn't want it out. Philadelphia, well, they're so weird. And rough on gear. The last time I flew out of there, they didn't wipe it.
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I travel weekly for biz as well. been checking my cpap machine in my bag for the last 4 years with absolutely no issue. its way easier to check it than to carry it with my laptop bag. I pack a few extra parts in case i break something but havent yet.

never needed my script but i keep a copy in dropbox and the doctor is only a call away if i need a copy faxed for some reason.

dont sweat it, check the bag and get it at your destination
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I'll second the advice to pack an extension cord in your cpap bag. I've had one in my bag but hadn't used it in numerous hotels over the last year. And then 2 weeks ago in San Diego I had a choice of either plugging in the cpap machine or the lamp. Or I guess I could have crawled under the bed just as I was about to drift off, to change the plug. I was glad to have the extension cord.
When going through TSA line I've stopped opening everything up and putting blower on top. Now I just leave it all packed up and no one has asked me to unpack. As others have said, I think TSA and airline people are very familiar with these machines.
Have a good trip.
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quip -- Another tip: On many (if not most) airlines you can pre-board with your CPAP machine because you're carrying fragile medical equipment. Pre-boarding also affords you the opportunity to find a good spot to stow your machine. I always put my machine in the overhead bin and then put my carry-on luggage right next to it to secure it in place.

Now, just don't do what I did a few trips back -- when your CPAP machine is rolling through the x-ray tunnel, be sure to be right there when it exits the tunnel -- I got too far ahead of mine on this trip, and turned around just in time to see the open flap of the ResMed bag catch on the edge of the tunnel, the machine made a sharp right and rolled right off the belt and hit the floor. By some miracle the machine was fine, the padding in the ResMed bag broke its fall and was apparently enough to protect it. Oh-jeez
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