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need prescription for air travel?
[parts of this thread were copied from our old forum]

travelersquest Wrote:Hi everyone,
I am looking into a trip for my 30th anniversary next year and since I now use a cpap machine I am concerned about airline regulations for carrying on cpaps. Will I need a perscription to travel with this machine? Have others traveled abroad and dealt with current differences? Any helpful advise is greatly appreciated. I have about a year before our trip but want to plan ahead. Thanks!
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ConnCarl Wrote:Since we don't know where you're going, or where you'll be flying into/out of, I would definitely suggest asking your doctor to write a prescription and/or a brief note explaining that your CPAP is prescription medical equipment and you are required to use it when you sleep.

This may save you some trouble moving through airport security, and possibly using it on an aircraft.

Good luck! Carl
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travelersquest,Jul 6 2007, 09:00 PM Wrote:Hi everyone,
I am looking into a trip for my 30th anniversary next year and since I now use a cpap machine I am concerned about airline regulations for carrying on cpaps. Will I need a perscription to travel with this machine? Have others traveled abroad and dealt with current differences? Any helpful advise is greatly appreciated. I have about a year before our trip but want to plan ahead. Thanks!
Although this primarily deals with travel within the U.S., for reference, here is the TSA's web page for travelers with disabilities. CPAP machines are listed in their chart on "Disability-related items permitted through the security checkpoint". You don't have to check your CPAP - you can take it with you and it does not count towards the number of carry-on bags you're allowed to have.


Also, here's the TSA's PDF document on changes in the rules for allowances for persons with disabilities:

If you have additional concerns or questions you can also contact TSA’s Call Center:
Toll-free - 1-866-289-9673
E-mail - tsa-contactcenter@dhs.gov
They may be able to direct you to information about specific foreign countries or airline info to your point of destination.

Apnea Board Administrator


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travelersquest Wrote:Thank you for the links and help!
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Davidvs Wrote:
rhayashi,Aug 27 2007, 09:34 PM Wrote:I haven't traveled overnight yet, but I read that you have to take the unit out of the travel bag much like a laptop computer.
Also gels, lotions and such for diabetics are allowed too.
I wonder if distilled water for the humidfier will be a problem?
Common sense is sometimes lacking with the highly paid, highly intelligent TSA security providers... :lol:
I just took a flight and they wanted me to take the machine out of the bag and put it in the little plastic buckets. I refused (clean machine + dirty bucket = dirty machine = not on my face!). I told them to go ahead and search the bag or whatever, which they did. The security guard was very rude, and it took longer to get through screening but so be it.

As far as distilled water...I just got it when I got to Denver.
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carlsonc Wrote:Each airport can interpret the regulations as they see fit. In Portland I was told I was holding up the line because I didn't take my CPAP out of the bag. But when I left Denver they took me aside, wanded me and swabbed my hands and the machine all over because I'd touched it. They told me I'd held up the line and I should know better than to touch something that was already on the belt. Sheesh. My son's girlfriend is a TSA and she said it's strictly local rules. So good luck, be flexible, keep your sense of humor, and buy water at your destination!
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gumbloid Wrote:I carry around a note from my sleep doctor indicating what the machine is and how it is being used. To further back up my claim, I have additional documentation from the local Ministry of Transportation indicating. When it was found out that I had sleep apnea, local laws make it necessary to register with the transportation people.

I am from Canada and have travelled up here and through the US without a problem. In fact, as soon as I say CPAP machine some customs officials have let me go through without question.
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travelersquest Wrote:We have booked a cruise that will require a international flight first. I am wondering what this will present in the way of customs and security for a machine. Also, if the cruise line has plugs available for the machine. I wonder if anyone has just skipped using their machine during a trip. I have moderate apnea from what my family doctor said the test showed. Any ideas and help are greatly appreciated.
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jdickins Wrote:As for the cruise part of your trip, I suggest calling the cruise line. I cruised with Holland America and they have a special number you can call to get your "disability" on record and discuss any special needs. They are well aware of CPAP machines and very understanding. I explained I needed to exempt the machine from luggage restrictions during a certain limited land portion of the cruise/tour. No problem. I also have friends with CPAP who do a lot of cruising. Since you really can't take the distilled water with you on the plane, you'll need to buy it from the cruise line. Ask if they can provide it. In my case, I went to the ship's front desk and simply ordered it. It was delivered to my room for a nominal charge. The special needs folks may also be able to arrange to deliver it to your room before you board. I don't remember when I asked for the distilled water, but I didn't do it soon enough so I was without the water for one night. IMPORTANT: Be sure bring a long extension cord with multiple outlets. The ship provided exactly ONE power outlet in the room. It's surprising how many electric things we need power in addition to CPAP: camera battery chargers, shaver chargers, etc. Of course, by now you should know that a long extension cord should be part of your CPAP "kit". Be certain you take ALL the CPAP parts or you will do without. One friend forgot the hose or something and didn't have her CPAP for the duration. I also preferred to carry-on my CPAP machine so I could be sure it wouldn't be lost or delayed. Generally, I believe the US airlines have to allow your CPAP machine in addition to the usual carry-on limit. However, they don't have to guarantee you space. Therefore, believe it or not, you qualify for pre-boarding to ensure there will be space in the racks for your CPAP machine. Ask the airline. I didn't test this and carried the machine in my one carry-on bag, having purchased a new, smaller machine that fit. I also travelled with my CPAP prescription as proof of my need, but I didn't need it. Still, it's a good idea to have it along. With a little advance preparation, you shouldn't have any problem.

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Brian Wrote:You should be fine. Medical devices are allowed. I just flew from JFK to Mexico & back w/ no problems. It is on the TSA website. Brian
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