Getting through airport security with a CPAP

CPAP is the most effective treatment for sleep apnea and must be used every night, including while on vacation, camping or travelling for business. This presents an extra challenge for many people suffering with sleep apnea.

In this blog post series, we’ll cover the top challenges of travelling with CPAP, including tips for making your travel as easy as possible.

Getting through airport security with a CPAP

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

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

The CPAP in its carrying case (see the case below that comes standard with most machines) should not count as a carry-on. You can still carry your roller bag and your laptop or purse (please check with your airline 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 labelled by the manufacturers as medical devices. For most machines, you can find this printed on the bottom of the machine.

A specific label or tag is not required, but may be helpful.  You can purchase a personalized tag here or can make your own. ResMed has created a travel compliance letter for ResMed therapy devices that clearly lists their CPAP (and other PAP devices) as FDA compliant (there’s a link to the letter and TSA regulations in the sources section at the bottom of this post).

Labeling your CPAP will also help if your device is misplaced. We were recently contact by someone who had been travelling across the US with her CPAP, as was the person sitting next to her on the plane. They both had the same model of CPAP and accidentally took each other’s off the plane. One person lived on the other side of the country! Because the CPAP she took home with her was labelled with our company information, were able to identify the owner of the CPAP using the device serial number and arrange for it’s safe return.

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

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

If, after your CPAP is x-rayed, it needs to be hand inspected by TSA, you can ask 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 (that’s the swab they use to test for explosives).

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

Are you a current patient and have questions about your therapy? Contact us today and get the help you need.

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  1. Sue Hill Reply

    I wanted to buy a medical alert tag but could not access final step to pay.

  2. Nikki Reply

    The link to the Compliance Letter on is broken.

  3. Testicle Massage Reply

    Awesome sleep blog. Keep it up!!!

  4. marta J. engdahl Reply

    I need to take the explanation of handling the C PAP machine with me to give to the staff.

  5. red ball Reply

    There are times when I can’t make the most informed decision when faced with choices. So I think I need more time to think about it!

  6. Randy Duff Reply

    It’s always best to make sure you plan ahead and have enough time in case you have delays.

  7. Eden Mobility Reply

    Arriving in Dubai Airport, no problem carriying your CPAP on check zone

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